On track to target traffickers

  • Date: 03 February 2023
  • In: India

India is one of the world’s largest and most populous countries and having worked there since 1996, we know it is home to many thousands of vulnerable children and families. 

Our experience, and extensive research, means we also know where the greatest dangers lie for these young people so we have been able to directly focus our life-changing interventions to where they are needed most - The Delhi-Howrah Mainline.

This 1,900km section of the country’s extensive and chaotic rail network connects Delhi and Kolkata, crossing northern and eastern India and linking 402 stations.

It is a key part of the infrastructure but also a key route for migration and child trafficking for the purposes of forced labour, child marriage, and commercial sexual exploitation. There is government support for these vulnerable children in just 13 of the stations on this line.

Systems not offering enough protection

Systems not offering enough protection

Our research with local stakeholders working in and around the stations estimates that 20,000 children in need of protection pass through this railway line every year.

Only 10% of them are likely to be protected by existing child protection systems.

This is why we’re focusing on this route and working with children, families, railway workers and child protection stakeholders to make it a child friendly network.

We’re collaborating with these people to reach and protect children found alone on this line and settle them back with their families or in foster homes when that is not possible. But even with the whole rail community joining forces we can’t achieve this alone. So we’re working hard to convince India’s decision-makers and authorities to drive this process forward, encouraging the district magistrates, statutory bodies and civil society organisations to play their part in creating a safer network for everyone.

Joining forces for safety

Joining forces for safety

We have established a united response so that when a child is identified on a train the systems are in place to collect them at the next station and ensure there is a safe place for them to go. Then reunite them with their family whenever possible or a foster placement if not. Children will be offered ongoing support with re-enrolment in school, counselling, vocational training, nutrition, healthcare, social welfare schemes and improving livelihoods so that they do not leave the family again.

We are now committed to establishing and monitoring this transformed response system in each of the 34 districts that The Delhi-Howrah Mainline runs through.

Together we will make sure everyone involved has the right training and support and we will make this route part of a positive journey for children and a dead end for those trying to exploit and abuse them.