Picked up from Simdega district in Jharkhand, Meena was first taken to Patna and then to Delhi by train. She stayed in the national Capital for a week after which she was put on a bus for Ahmedabad.
In a story traversing four states, the 13-year-old found herself changing hands four times after which she was finally rescued by the police from a house where she was working as a domestic maid.
Meena's story indicates how the challenge of trafficking needs coordinated efforts by different states. The growing menace of child trafficking can only be curbed if state agencies formulate laws and work together.
"Political will is very important. It will not help if Delhi alone follows all guidelines. We need a strong coordinated effort by the state governments and police force of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Delhi. The Juvenile Justice Act needs to be followed in letter and spirit in all states and the Child Welfare Committees need to be made functional," said Raajmangal Prasad, child rights activist.While child trafficking is an organised crime, the investigation and prosecution of traffickers is lackadaisical.
"Inter-state investigation in such cases is very weak. They are not linked from the source states to the destination area," said Rishi Kant, member, Shakti Vahini, an NGO working in the field of child rights.
While the union home ministry (MHA) has started Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) in 225 districts in the country, training and sensitisation of the police is yet to be completed.
"While the AHTUs have been instrumental in rescuing a large number of children, the network needs to be expanded. We have already held a number of training sessions for police personnel to sensitise them. We need to get the message out that the trafficked women are not the culprits. They are, rather, the victims of circumstances," said Praveen Kumari Singh, director (SR), MHA.
The non-implementation of the provisions of the Integrated Child Protection System (ICPS), which talks about identifying vulnerable families and supporting them, is also adding to the woes.
"ICPS can ensure that a lot of poor families and their children don't have to migrate but its non-implementation remains a big drawback," Prasad added.