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

India’s 12.66 million child labourers under the age of 14, comprise of 11.18% of India’s workforce in the sectors of spinning, textile and garments, construction, domestic work and mining. Basic factors that contribute to child labour include poverty, lack of basic quality education, demographic pressure and social exclusion. Cultural norms also play a critical role. In India many of these child labourers are hidden. They work as household help, in brick kilns, construction site, farming and fishing industries, and also in small scale and home based industries. There are often cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse of these child labourers.

Terre des Hommes’ child labour programme in India focuses on child domestic work, mining and textile and garments. 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. Our geographical areas are the states of Jharkhand, and Tamil Nadu.

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. This programme covers the touristic locations of Goa, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha.

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.

In India, Terre des Hommes supports 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 work 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. We work in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Odisha.


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