India is home to the largest number of children in the world, nearly every fifth child in the world lives in India, in total this means about 430 million children. Among them, about 40% live in difficult circumstances. They live alone, are, forced into labour, are abused or trafficked children, live on the streets, are affected by substance abuse, involved in armed conflict, civil unrest or affected by natural disasters.

Child labour in India

An estimated 20,000 children work in the mica mines in Jharkhand and Bihar states of India. Indian law prohibits children under 14 from working in mines, but this is not monitored in the illegal mining industry. These regions produce approximately one-quarter of the world’s total mica production. Terre des Hommes Netherlands started a campaign raising awareness of children being labourer in mica mine industry. We work on prevention of child labour through awareness raising and keeping children in school, we provide education to child labourers, rescue children where possible and work on better implementation of laws and policies. Read more about stopping child labour in Mica mine.

Sexual exploitation of children in India

Growth in tourism has both a positive as well as an adverse impact on local communities. Development of (religious) tourism without responsibility, accountability and protective measures increases child labour and leads to sexual exploitation of children in the form trafficking, prostitution, child abuse imagery and child-sex tourism. All these in turn increase the vulnerability of children to drugs, crimes, HIV/AIDS, and alienation from their communities and families. In addition these forms of sexual exploitation lead to physical and mental health damage.

Terre des Hommes’ programme against sexual exploitation of children in India focuses on sexual exploitation of children in tourism and online sexual exploitation of children, as well as exploitation of children in the name of religion. We raise awareness on these issues, rescue children from exploitation as well as work closely together with police and judiciary to arrest and convict perpetrators.

Child trafficking and migration in India

In India, trafficked children are used for prostitution, domestic servants, forced into marriage, and used as cheap or unpaid labour. Some children are recruited into armed groups. Trafficking exposes children to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. The invisible and clandestine nature of trafficking makes it one of hardest crimes to track and investigate.

Terre des Hommes supported the ‘Destination Unknown’ (DU) campaign in 4 states of India. Odisha is a source area where trafficking and migration persists and Tamil Nadu is a destination area for the textile, garment and construction industries. Chhattisgarh, a source area of civil strife which forced a large number of tribals to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States, are destination areas for these displaced people in search of a safe haven.

We worked on sensitisation of the target communities on safe migration, mitigating migration through creating income generating opportunities and skill building for better job perspectives, mainstreaming drop outs in source and destination areas to prevent further exploitation, and advocating for safety, security and social entitlements with a dynamic database.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights in India

Gender inequality is one of the largest sexual and reproductive health and right issue in India. Women are regarded as inferior to men. Sexual abuse and rape are common in India, 50% of children report to have been sexually abused, while the majority of these cases are never filed. Safe abortion is legally available to girls and young women, but is often not accessed due to social stigma. Early marriage is extremely prevalent in India. Every year approximately four million girls in India give birth to a child before the age of 18.

Terre des Hommes programme in India focuses on three issues in relation to sexual and reproductive health and rights. We empower girls who were child brides, we work on prevention of sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment, and we address gender based violence.


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