After quarrelling with his siblings who were troubling him, 12 year old Pavan* ran away from his village. His parents did not know how he disappeared and didn’t know how to start looking for him. They didn’t know that Pavan* felt that his home was no longer a safe place and had found his way to Mumbai on a train. His parents searched everywhere but could not find him and did not file an FIR report at the police station.
After hearing their story, a community member who had attended one of our Safe Village Program in West Bengal reached out to us on the RED ALERT NATIONAL HELPLINE and reported the case to us. Although we’ve intended the helpline to deal with sex trafficking cases in India, we are glad that it has become a ‘household’ number that helps all members of the community in times of difficulties. We see these calls as opportunity to build trust among the communities our Helpline has reached.
Operation Red Alert team took quick action and got in touch with our partners (Murshidabad Blessing For Women and Children) in a district in West Bengal. MBWCWS immediately took up the case and began the search for Pavan* through their contact in Mumbai. Since the FIR was not filed, it made the process more difficult.
After 19 days passed, Mumbai Railway Police called the family and told them that they found the boy who was now in a NGO safe home.
Pavan’s parents were able to verify themselves and establish contact through this NGO and have started the process of bringing him back home! This will take some time as there are a lot of well defined legal formalities to follow.
Kids like Pavan can easily end up trafficked and are vulnerable to being picked up by gangs and live a life that is poorly guided as they grow into young men. These men are most often the ones who are heavily involved in eve teasing, street harassment and turn into “Johns”(purchasers of sex in brothels).
The biggest challenge in India is awareness. A vast majority of people are unaware of the fact that millions of their children are being stolen and sold into human trafficking. Many who know about it turn a blind eye out of fear of shame. We take responsibility in educating and equipping communities against the schemes of sex traffickers. One of the ways we do that is through a Safe Village Program. A Safe Village is a 2-day innovative program designed to help people of all literacy levels to learn about trafficking. We do specific sessions for fathers, mothers, young girls and young boys.
In our Cool Boy (Hatke Ladka) workshop, we teach young boys on being a Hatke Ladka by taking a cool boy pledge and it states that a Hatke Ladka makes his village a safer place and will remember his identity and values as a strong young man when he moves to the city. A Cool Boy will do what is honourable and good and is on Red Alert by watching out for signs of trafficking, and he shares his knowledge about it and speaks up when he thinks there might be a problem.
*Name changed and identifying information excluded for protection of the minor client.