An Indian activist was on Friday presented with the ‘Trafficking in Person Hero’ award by the US for his work in the fight against human trafficking. Bhanuja Sharan Lal, director of the Manav Sansadhan Evam Mahila Vikas Sansthan (MSEMVS) was awarded “Trafficking in Person Hero” at an event along with other recipients of this prize.
Those awarded included Tek Narayan Kunwar from Nepal and Charmain Gandhi-Andrews from Trinidad and Tobago.
Each year, the US Department of State honours individuals around the world who have contributed to the fight against human trafficking. Lal was felicitated by the Secretary of State John Kerry.
As director of MSEMVS, Lal leads more than 75 frontline anti-trafficking workers in northern India.
MSEMVS has enabled communities to progressively dismantle entrenched systems of modern slavery at brick kilns, farms and quarries, the State Department said.
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MSEMVS has transformed hundreds of communities into no-go zones for traffickers, making modern slavery virtually non-existent in more than 130 villages, it said.
Led by Lal, MSEMVS helps trafficking victims establish Community Vigilance Committees, a process through which groups of survivors achieve freedom by exercising collective power through district-level networks and pressuring police to enforce anti-trafficking laws, the State Department noted.
“MSEMVS assists in freeing approximately 65 men, women and children every month, and provides survivors with follow-up reintegration support. MSEMVS has also launched and manages a shelter that provides rights-based assistance and recovery to sex trafficking survivors,” it said.
Additionally, Lal has focused intensely on eradicating child labour.
Currently, 14 village-based schools enable more than 500 child trafficking survivors to catch up on their education, so they can successfully enter public schools within three years.
These schools, which open and close as necessary, enable large numbers of children to come out of slavery and receive an education, the State Department said.