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Finding trafficked children in rural India: one woman’s life’s work

  • Published on
    February 25, 2024
  • Category:
    Human Trafficking
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Rural India is filled with stories of missing children grabbed and forced into various forms of modern slavery including forced labor, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, and organ trafficking. As told in the Indian Express, these stories inspired Pallabi Ghosh to start an organization that works with local law enforcement to investigate, rescue, and rehabilitate trafficking survivors across India. The organization also conducts awareness-raising about the risks of modern slavery with families living in the rural communities they work in.

Children falsely declared positive for COVID then harvested for organs

20 years ago, Ghosh visited a village in West Bengal where she met a man whose daughter had gone missing. This prompted her to start researching missing children across India. She uncovered multiple instances of missing girls who had been forced into marriage in distant states to men twice their age. She also learned the term ‘human trafficking’ and what it meant. Then, during the pandemic, Ghosh heard about children who had been falsely declared positive for COVID-19, killed, and their organs harvested and sold. This injustice prompted Ghosh to establish the Impact and Dialogue Foundation.

Ghosh said:

“Convincing police officials to lodge and book a case is a daunting task…I have come across people who have normalized trafficking and believe that fighting it yields no dividends.”

Today, Ghosh has dedicated her life to being an anti-trafficking advocate for children across India. This involves going on arduous journeys to participate in raids with law enforcement, rescue children, and bring traffickers to justice. To date, Ghosh has helped rescue over 10,000 survivors and counting.

The 4Ps – prevention, protection, partnership, and prosecution

In 2017, one case of a trafficked girl resonated with Ghosh and hit home with the challenges she faces in educating families in India on trafficking risks. The girl’s father had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, so her mother entrusted her daughter’s care to a respectable person. After a tip-off from the police, Ghosh found the girl and discovered she had been sex trafficked and physically abused. To Ghosh’s astonishment, the girl had become so immune to the pain that she didn’t even realize that her treatment was wrong.

Ghosh said:

“It is important to bring community awareness and normalize talks around human trafficking. Hate it or love it, but don’t ignore it.”

Fighting trafficking effectively requires collaboration and partnerships with local law enforcement, grassroots activists, local NGOs, and survivors. That’s why Ghosh practices the 4Ps – prevention, protection, partnership, and prosecution. The primary goal of the Impact and Dialogue Foundation is to support survivors in becoming financially independent through skills training. The second goal is justice through successful prosecution. Unfortunately, in India right now it is an uphill battle with only 1 out of 100 cases ending in conviction.

Ghosh hopes that her awareness-raising work, along with Project Sahay, which provides survivors and ‘at-risk’ populations with livelihood opportunities, will help keep some of those children from being re-trafficked or from ever being trafficked in the first place.


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2 months ago

Was this always here and we’re just noticing now? In any case it has to STOP. Another thing I don’t understand is men, especially in India. Do they not believe in reincarnation? If they have no sympathy for these children, are they not affraid to be born to be one of these girls in the next life?…

A K. Gupta
A K. Gupta
2 months ago

India requires many more like this great lady with a heart of gold.

Judy Durrant
Judy Durrant
2 months ago

The world is full of bad people exploiting children and other vulnerable people and ruining their lives. What a wonderful lady who has dedicated her life to rescuing exploited children in India.

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