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Indian schoolgirl hero leads new anti-trafficking campaign

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Human TraffickingVictories

11-year-old Carolyn Malsawmtluangi, from the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram, has been applauded for her efforts to help another young girl escape from a trafficker. She recently received a National Bravery Award for her “exemplary courage”.

These highly celebrated awards are given to just 25 children in India each year who are between the ages of six and 18. Recipients receive a medal, certificate, a cash prize, and financial support to help them through their education.

In previous years, awards have been given out to children who have stopped robberies, saved lives in stampedes, and even fought off armed intruders.

But this year, young Carolyn Malsawmtluangi’s story has inspired a new anti-slavery campaign in India.

While playing volleyball with friends last year, she noticed a woman approach a younger girl. At first, she believed them to be mother and daughter.

However after hearing a police warning about a trafficking incident the following day, Malsawmtluangi became suspicious of the woman who had returned to speak to the girl again.

While the woman ran errands, she asked Malsawmtluangi to look after the girl. She agreed, and bravely took this opportunity to escape, carrying the younger girl on her shoulders as they ran away from the woman who pelted stones at them.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:

“We are stepping up our efforts [to raise awareness about trafficking] because young people are increasingly getting duped by fake agents promising jobs,” said Vanlalruata, president of the Central Young Mizo Association, a charity that works on anti-trafficking programmes.

“This young girl will now inspire others and bring attention to the problem,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“If Carolyn had not stopped them, the trafficker would have disappeared with the little girl,” said Khawlhrinj Lalhlupuii, a secretary at the Mizoram State Council for Child Welfare that recommended her for the annual award.

“She was very brave to understand the danger to the little girl and save her,” she said. “We plan to share her story in all schools and create awareness on trafficking and safety.”

Recent figures from the National Crime Records Bureau show that nearly 6,000 people become victims of human trafficking in India each year. Around half of these are children.

In 2018, over 60,000 children were kidnapped from their families; the majority of whom were trafficked for marriage, forced labor, or into domestic servitude.

As a means to escape poverty, women and children are tricked into false promises of well-paid jobs, but end up living in slavery-like conditions.

Anti-trafficking efforts have ramped up across Mizoram in recent years. Carolyn’s story will spearhead new anti-slavery campaigns across India in a bid to increase awareness, particularly among young people.

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