In the past one year, a large number of children working as domestic helps have been rescued by government agencies as well as NGOs. Most of these children are reunited with their families and some are sent to child welfare homes in the city.
But what happens to these children after they are rescued and sent home?
"Rehabilitation remains a huge challenge for the government. There is no follow-up after a child is sent home to find out how she is doing, thereby increasing the chances of re-trafficking. Even the child labour laws are inadequate and toothless. Without rehabilitation, rescue is meaningless," says Raajmangal Prasad, former chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Lajpat Nagar.
While in Delhi there are government homes in each districts where girls can be housed till the time their parents are tracked, districts in Jharkhand have no such provision."Many times I have had to keep the rescued girls in my house. In some cases, especially where sexual abuse in involved, the parents don't want to accept the girl at all. What do we do in such case? These things have not been covered under the duties of a Child Welfare Committee," said Tribhuvan Sharma, member, CWC.
And while many experts believe that the Juvenile Justice Act is well thought out and a step in the right direction, both its implementation and awareness about it remains low.
"While many police officers in Delhi are unaware about the juvenile justice Act, the situation in other states is worse. The rescued girls should be treated as bonded labourers, who are entitled to a job, pension and other benefits but hardly anybody knows about it," said Rakesh Sengar, of Bachpan Bachao Andolan.