Children under Occupation: Trafficking in North India, Sustainable Rehabilitation or Re-Commodification?

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Kanthie Athukorala


In India, even after 60 years of Independence, millions of children live under occupation, as they are physically, mentally, emotionally controlled and trapped in exploitative conditions and are forced to labour through the process of trafficking. Social structures (economic, political, education, caste and gender systems) through various sources of hegemony oppress marginalized groups making them vulnerable to trafficking. Many non-governmental organizations partake in rescue and rehabilitation efforts through their programs. Although such programs are well intentioned the question of sustainability of rehabilitation is at the forefront of this study. The primary research question that this study shall address is: what sustainable rehabilitation is required for children who have been trafficked for forced labour to prevent re-trafficking?

The study has tried to understand the root causes that perpetuate trafficking; in turn, it has also attempted to assess the status of rehabilitation and what needs to be done to prevent re-trafficking. To obtain this data, interviews of those working in non-governmental organizations on the issue of trafficking in India, were interviewed. Through the inquiry it was discerned that in spite of the positive elements of rehabilitation seen in the children, its sustainability is difficult to achieve because of the socio-economic problems rooted in social structures that continue to persist in the children’s environment at home. As such, these factors make it difficult for rehabilitation to be sustainable, and in some cases also lead to re-trafficking of children into labour. Thus, larger level issues embedded in the hegemonic social structures need to be challenged to reduce oppression and set these children free.


Criminology and Criminal Justice | Labor Economics | Social Welfare | Work, Economy and Organizations

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