India

Context

According to data from the Human Development Index published by the UNDP approximately 54% of the population in India lives in poverty. Child trafficking and child prostitution are a billion dollar business in India. Girls who end up in prostitution are often from within India. In addition, child trafficking routes exist from Nepal and Bangladesh to India and also from India and Pakistan to the Middle East. It is estimated that 1.2 million children in India are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation.

Source: ECPAT INTERNATIONAL, The commercial sexual exploitation of children in South Asia, 2014

Causes

Certain traditions in India increase the risk of sexual exploitation for girls. Examples of traditions are the dowry system and traditions based on gender roles. These traditions can have a negative influence on the lives of the girls and women and can increase their vulnerabilities. Poverty is also a contributing factor when it comes to sexual exploitation. Due to significant inequality certain groups also have fewer opportunities on an economic, political or social level.

To protect their children and to survive, some parents take drastic measures. In some cases girls are sold or kidnapped. In some parts of India women are seen as inferior and as a liability. Parents have to pay the dowry when their daughter gets married. Parents often decide to arrange a marriage when the girl is still young. Child marriage opens the door to exploitation, and is a danger for the girls.

Soni Domal, 16 years old: “People abused me. I will do everything to protect my little sister, so no one would ever hurt her like they hurt me.

Projects

Free a Girl supports organisations that perform rescue actions to liberate girls from prostitution. These organisations investigate where underage girls are detained and then work with the police during raids. The heavily traumatised girls receive medical care, trauma counselling and are cared for in one of the shelters. In addition, our local partners encourage and support the girls to pursue a lawsuit against the people who have marketed and sold them to the brothel keepers. After a period of assistance, it is investigated whether the girls can return home. If this is not possible, the girls will be offered vocational and educational training so that they are able to provide for themselves and live independently.