India has alarmingly emerged as a source, destination and transit point for both in-country and cross-border trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation. The Ministry has identified that trafficking is an organized crime violating the basic human rights of vulnerable women and children who are exposed to trafficking just the more because of complex issues like poverty, low status of women and lack of a protective environment, etc. To tackle these pressing issues, the Ministry launched the Ujjawala scheme on December 04, 2007 in order to combat trafficking and to facilitate the rescue and rehabilitation of victims.
Ujjawala scheme was launched with the aim to prevent trafficking of vulnerable women and children for commercial sexual exploitation. It also aims to facilitate rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and repatriation of trafficked victims.
The scheme is being implemented mainly through NGOs. But the implementing agencies can also be Social Welfare/Women and Child Welfare Department of State Government, Women’s Development Corporations & Centres, Urban Local Bodies and also reputed Public/Private Trusts. All implementing agencies must have adequate experience in the field of trafficking, social defense, dealing with women and children in need of care and protection, etc.
The funding for the implementation of the scheme will be shared between the Central Government, States and Implementing Agencies in the ratio of 60:30:10 respectively. In Himalayan and North-Eastern states, the applicable sharing ratio of funding pattern will be 80:10:10 and in case of UT administrations, the sharing ratio shall be 90:10 between the Central Government and the implementing agencies. Funds will be released in two installments every year.
The scheme seeks to protect the basic human rights of vulnerable women and children by undertaking preventative measures to shield them from potential and actual sites of trafficking. It also empowers victims of trafficking by rescuing and rehabilitating them holistically, improving their health, dignity, social status and standard of living. Moreover, the scheme allows for adult victims to be provided vocational training so that they are made financially independent. Also, minor victims are provided education in shelter homes.
For prevention of trafficking, implementing agencies undertake preventative activities in vulnerable areas such as source or transit points of trafficking. The activities include formation and functioning of community vigilance groups and Balika / Balaka Sanghas (communities). Sensitization workshops and seminars are also conducted. Moreover, awareness generation campaigns (eg. Street plays) and printing of pamphlets, leaflets and posters on the issue of trafficking are distributed.
The rescue operation involves the formation of a network of police, NGOs, Women’s groups, Youth groups, Panchayat, Hotels, Drivers, Tour Operators, informers, etc. to gather information on traffickers, suspicious people and vulnerable families. Once the victims are identified, they are rescued and transported to shelter homes. The victims are then provided immediate relief on rescue such as food, shelter, and other basic amenities, including medical and counseling care.
The victims of trafficking, once rescued, are offered safe custody in shelter homes, where they are provided basic amenities, medical care, trauma counseling sessions and legal services. Victims who are children are provided formal or open school education with free textbooks and other school expenses. Adult victims are provided vocational training and activities that generate income as a source of livelihood.
After rehabilitation, the scheme encourages victims to be restored to their family and the community at large in a phased manner. This is done by setting up Half-Way Homes within the community, where a group of rehabilitated victims live and work out of a common living space. Such homes provide a smooth transition from the life at shelter homes to an independent living in the community for women victims who are already gainfully employed. After a certain time, the women victims are restored to their families and the scheme would cover travel expenses and an escort person to safely take them to their homes/villages.
Cross-border victims of trafficking are repatriated by facilitating their safe return to the country of their origin. All procedures, communications and documentation required for repatriation will be covered by the scheme including the travel/food/ incidental expenses and an escort facility for victims to be taken safely to their country of origin or border.