TISS leadership summit: ‘Must focus on trafficking of children born with non-confirmed gender identity’

Chennai-based transwoman and activist Olga Aaron speaks at TISS leadership summit.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai | Published: February 29, 2016 3:21 am

With the government in the process of coming up with a Bill to address human trafficking, Chennai-based transwoman Olga Aaron has been advocating for focus towards the ignored group of Gender Non-Confirmed Children (GNCC), who are being trafficked into begging and other such activities. Aaron, who was in the city to attend a Leadership Programme to Combat Human Trafficking at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), said that such children who are given away to transgender communities by their families due to societal pressure are also victims of trafficking.

“Many children who are born with non-confirmed gender identity are either given away by families, who are not sensitised or are taken away by transgender communities. The children are then made to enter into the world of begging and other such activities as they grow older. This is another form of trafficking but is not taken as seriously since there is considerable social sanction to it as a cultural practice,” Aaron says.

She adds that she was fortunate to have her mother to support her as she grew up but many continue to remain vulnerable. “Within the Juvenile Justice Act, in the category of children in need of care and protection, though it includes all children under the age of 18, there are some categories mentioned for specified focus. It should also include the GNCC population so the various stakeholders, including the family, school and larger society can be made aware,” she said.

Aaron in 1997 founded an organisation called Bringing Adequate Values of Humanity (BRAVOH) to advocate such children and has been advocating for policy changes. “The Supreme Court has recognised the identity of this group as citizens but that needs to be backed up with other policies including skill training for livelihood options apart from begging for the transgender community,” Aaron said. The Leadership Programme, organised by TISS in collaboration with ARZ, a Goa-based organisation that works on combatting trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation, also saw participants working in the field of trafficking of women for domestic work in cities and child labour. “The idea was to discuss the challenges of various groups who are working against trafficking and to have a better network,” said Vijay Raghavan, professor, Centre for Criminology and Justice, TISS.

Civil society organisations estimate that the problem of human trafficking affects 20 to 65 million Indians. “The network of human trafficking itself works as a network. To address it we need a network of all those working in the field to come together and though many mid-level practitioners have ground-level experience there is a lack of formal training with a theoretical perspective which we wanted to address,” said Arun Pandey, director of ARZ. The programme saw participation from 11 states including Manipur, Nagaland from where many women are brought to cities to work as domestic workers as well as Nepal which has cases of both women and children being trafficked into India.

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