Achievements

This Supreme Court lawyer rescues more than 500 children from human trafficking every year

Ravi Kant, father of Anoushkha Kant, a class 10 student of Apeejay Faridabad and winner of the Dr Stya Paul Award for Human Values 2021, says helping the victims of child trafficking is immensely satisfying.

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Ravi, who has been practicing in Supreme Court for the last 14 years, is the co-founder and President of Shakti Vahini, an NGO working on the Ground for Rescue, Protection, Repatriation, Reintegration of women and child victims of human trafficking and sexual assault. He set up Shakti Vahini in 2001 along with his brothers Rishi, and Nishi Kant. The NGO rescues more than 500 children every year from human trafficking and exploitation. The trio received the prestigious Vital Voices Global leadership award from the then US Vice President Joe Biden in 2013. The award recognised their efforts to end violence against women. In an interview, he highlights the importance of value-based education and suggests ways to combat child trafficking.

Anoushkha was one of the winners of the Dr Stya Paul Award for Human Values 2021, given to students who exhibit human values in their day-to-day lifeAccording to you, why are values important?

First of all, I would like to inform you that a lot of children from my family have studied in Apeejay schools. I believe studies without human values are incomplete. It’s important to nurture empathy in kids. They should understand the pain of others. This is what I like about Apeejay, apart from academics the school gives emphasis to integrity and moral values, thereby preparing students for life after school.

Some people may say values don’t make you rich, so why bother about them?

See, we all have to go one day. What matters is how many people we reach out to in our lives and make a difference. I agree that money is important, but not beyond a limit. I could have been a corporate lawyer and earned a lot of money, but I chose to represent the poor. No amount of money can replace the kind of happiness and satisfaction I derive out of rescuing kids. I always tell my daughter that the secret to happiness is helping others.

Ravi, Rishi, and Nishi Kant have received the prestigious Vital Voices Global leadership award from Vice President Joe Biden in 2013 

Please share with us the common causes of human trafficking.

Trafficking is a complex phenomenon that is often influenced by social, economic, cultural and other factors. Though poverty is one of the largest contributors to human trafficking. When people are economically vulnerable, they are susceptible to fraud, deception, coercion, kidnapping or abduction. This pandemic has hit the poor hardest and made them even more vulnerable. In view of the vulnerabilities caused by Covid/natural disasters, West Bengal’s districts of North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas have become the hub of human trafficking. Remember, human trafficking is an organised crime and it can affect anyone, not just the poor. There are many college-goers who are getting trafficked.

What can be done to combat it?

Sinceit’s an organised crime, the primary work has to be done by the law enforcement agencies. We need to properly register and investigate cases related to human trafficking and bring criminals to justice. What is happening today is that the perpetrators are getting away scot-free due to poor investigation. There’s no fear of law. I welcome the latest amendments to the NIA (National Investigation Agency) Act that allows the agency to probe the cases of human trafficking. It was a much-needed amendment as trafficking victims can be trafficked within their home country or internationally. Also, there has to be a massive awareness campaign against this menace and the schools should take the lead.

What are you doing at your level?

We have a staff of over 60. At our level, we are partnering with the government and working to strengthen law enforcement, state agencies, child protection and civil society responses to combatting human trafficking and violence against women and children. We also work with panchayats and community groups to ensure prevention of human trafficking and violence against women and children. We work in close coordination with state/ statutory authorities on new legislation and support the state in implementation of policies, programmes and schemes for the benefit of women and children. In fact, I was one of the members who drafted the anti-trafficking bill called Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021. It is slated to be tabled in the upcoming session of Parliament. The bill proposes that any offence of trafficking “shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees”. The bill will also make rehabilitation as a matter of right not charity. Our effort is also to effectively rehabilitate the victims of human trafficking. We ensure that they are admitted to schools and complete their studies. We also hold workshops in Police Training academies and Judicial Academies to ensure implementation of laws related to women and child rights.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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