As a result of the lockdown arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of child and women exploitation cases has increased in Warangal, located in India’s Telangana state. Such exploitation includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, trafficking, and prostitution, where girls and young women are mainly affected. There was a need for immediate action to curb these cases and protect children and women.
Children and women are highly vulnerable to abuse due to the lockdown arising out of the Coronavirus pandemic. At this time, it is the Police who are the frontline warriors who ensure that society is protected therefore, working with them by facilitating a campaign against children and women exploitation is an immediate need with utmost importance.
Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ project partner, Fransican Missionaries of Mary Social Service Society (FMMSSS) through the Girl’s Advocacy Alliance project executed a campaign. Along with the Telangana State Police Department’s support, the campaign was directed towards vulnerable women and children.
FMMSSS shared the statistics on COVID’s effect on the rate of child marriages, child trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence against women, and economic violence against women. Taking note of the increased rate of violence against children and women, the Commissioner of Police collaborated with FMMSSS to take forward the campaign to reduce gender-based violence, economic exclusion, and protection of children and women from harm.
The action was carried out at the Warangal Urban District. Terre des Hommes’ partners supported the campaign in providing education and information materials. In addition, a mobile van used by the Police Department further spread important messages for the community.
Due to this initiative that was carried out for almost two weeks, the reporting rate of child and women exploitation has increased in the district. The campaign reached out to 20,000 people including 9000 migrants. Within a span of one and half months, 80 cases of domestic as well as gender-based violence were reported to the Police.
The concerned police departments have strengthened the effective implementation of Acts related to children and women in vulnerable situations. The Police and the Department of Women and Development and Child Welfare jointly initiated their action which resulted in 98 children (who are in need of care and protection) being supported.
Advocacy, lobby and collaboration with the concerned Police department on the status of child and women exploitation made this campaign possible, which led to the immediate action of many community members. Communication is key in advocacy!