Cross border Anti Human Trafficking along Indo-Nepal border corridor
India shares a 1700 km-long porous border with Nepal and the movement across the border is unrestricted. It's estimated that every year, a staggering 7,000 to 10,000 Nepalese, particularly girls—children between the ages of 9 and 16—are trafficked against their will across the open border to India, and sold into prostitution in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and other metropolitan cities.
MSS, in partnership with the border army, runs “Life Guard Centres” at cross-border transit routes to promote safe and informed migration and also identify victims
of trafficking during the migration process. The volunteers stationed at the centres identify victims of trafficking, rescue them and facilitate their reunification with families, or rehabilitation through local NGOs in Nepal. Further, they engage with migrants to
provide them with useful information and also link them with networks at their destinations.
The objectives of the cross-border campaign are:
1. Cross-border migrants are empowered to respond positively to the risks posed during their migration process and at their destination points, as well as exercise their rights for a better livelihood.
2. Apparent trafficked victims are identified and rescued at transit points and repatriated to Nepal and/or reintegrated within their families.
3. Viable systems are in place at the cross-border transit points to curb cross-border human trafficking.
4. Capacitate and sensitize the border army and police personnel to deal with cross-border human trafficking.
5. To strengthen the cross-border mechanism to combat trafficking, through review & consultation, as well as sharing experiences.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
The objectives were achieved by:
1. Developing an innovative cross-border transit model "Life Guard Centre" to identify and rescue trafficked victims, and provide rights-based repatriation and rehabilitation.
2. Generating awareness among cross-border migrants through information dissemination and counseling.
3. Training programs for the Border Army and police staff on the migration and human trafficking nexus, victims' rights, SOP for rescue, laws related to human trafficking and gender sensitization.
4. Building strong networks of NGOs working at the source - transit and destination - for information sharing and facilitating victim repatriation.
5. Networking with transporters, hotel owners and the local community to build community participation and intelligence gathering.
6. Strengthening coordination between cross border district administration, media and NGOs
A life guard center is a unique model of NGO-Police-Army partnership as it is the first time in the history of India that a venture of this nature has taken shape to address cross-border human trafficking. This is an embodiment of an integrated
partnership between NGO, army and Police, dedicated to the cause of public welfare and,
more than everything, for the protection and preservation of the human rights of the public at
An important impact of this approach is that often the victims realize the trap they have fallen into and request
that the volunteers in the Center assist them to return to Nepal. The volunteers extend any legal and moral help needed to prevent an innocent soul from being trafficked.
Some of the major achievements are:
1. Rescued: 8,500 women and girls while being trafficked.
2. Engaged with more than 100,000 migrants to facilitate informed migration.
3. Trained 1200 army and police personnel on human trafficking and migration,
4. Trained 80 lawyers/advocates on laws and instruments on human trafficking
5. Oriented 25 parliamentarians on the human trafficking and migration nexus.
The other significant impacts are:
1. The Army Border Outpost (BOP), along the Indo-Nepal border, is now involved in tracking human trafficking as one of the agendas in border management strategies.
2. Integration of gender and child issues into border management reform processes to enhance operational effectiveness against cross-border human trafficking
3. Civil society organisations participation in border management reforms leads to enhanced local ownership, civilian oversight and collaboration.
The biggest challenge was to expand the campaign along the entire 1,740 Km Indo-Nepal border. The other major challenge was identifying and rescuing trafficked victims during the migration process and facilitating their safe return to their families.
Building confidence among the cross-border community, police and army officials for the campaign was a huge challenge.
There are numerous unmanned routes through villages located along the Indo-Nepal border, which are also used by traffickers. The community was involved to track the traffickers movement along these routes.
Some of the lessons learned are that these elements are needed:
- There is a need for strong bilateral understanding and cooperation to curb cross-border trafficking.
- Building a network of community intelligence at source, transit and destination points.
- Strengthening the judiciary for fast-tracking trafficking cases and punishing traffickers.
- Developing a Village Safety Net Program to build a child & women protection network, with community competency at the grassroots level to protect vulnerable children and women from sexual and other forms of exploitation.