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Cross-Border Trafficking: Building Awareness in India, Nepal & Bangladesh

Human trafficking or trafficking in persons (TIP) is a crime that has acquired a global dimension and emerged as a major challenge for all developing countries. More than 500 trafficking flows were detected around the world between 2012 and 2014 alone, where 71% of the victims were women and children. In this perspective, India is a source, transit as well as destination for human trafficking. However, 90% of it all happens within India. Incidentally, sharing long and porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh on its northern and eastern borders, respectively, stopping cross-border trafficking (CBT) is a major challenge for the government and the society.

In 2016-2017, UNODC assigned Contact Base the task of developing prevention and advocacy material to combat cross-border trafficking and organizing two events each in Nepal, Bangladesh and India to spread awareness on the issues concerned. The main objective was to strengthen the capacity for prevention and advocacy.

The campaign was titled ‘Safe Borders’. Information, education and communication (IEC) materials developed for the purpose included animation and short films, posters, leaflets and stickers. Theatre played a key role in this project. It was a key tool for communication with the community, especially in bordering areas.

Street theatre shows were held to address a range of issues like — how people are often lured by the promise of false jobs, leading to trafficking; the need to verify the details of a recruiting agency before migrating to another city, state or country; the need to carry valid documents and visa while crossing any international border; the need to make the community aware on how to identify a trafficking victim and the typical signs shown by a trafficking victim; the need to know the emergency helpline telephone numbers to inform and alert the police and administration to prevent any case of trafficking or trafficking bid or rescue any trafficking victim; the need to develop community vigilance systems to combat traffickers; how to provide trafficking victims access to free legal aid from legal aid cells and committees; the need to know the contact phone numbers of district-level counter-trafficking agencies; and the constant need to urge all members of the community to help and support survivors to reintegrate with the society.

One-day awareness events were organized at two spots in bordering areas of each of the three countries. The main objective of the events was to mobilize youth-led action to prevent human trafficking; orient the stakeholders on the use of art, theatre, digital and print media to spread awareness; disseminate IEC material written in Hindi and English to build awareness.
The participants included representatives of various government departments of India, Nepal and Bangladesh and the states of West Bengal and Bihar — including police, labour, education and child protection — as well as helplines, transport unions, NGOs and youths.

Altogether, the outreach involved 331 stakeholders, 318 youths and 1,316 people (through street theatre shows), the campaign elicited a favorable response at all the places and was given a good coverage by the print and electronic media.


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