Over 155 citizens from corporates, colleges and NGOs participated in the Walk for Freedom to raise awareness about human trafficking at Bengaluru this morning. At the start of the Walk participants in Bengaluru and across the nation took a pledge to do everything possible within their means to help end trafficking in their lifetimes. Dignitaries at the walk included Alias M Nagaraju Yadav, Legislator from Karnataka Legislative Council, Rev Dexter S Maben from St. Andrew's Church and Philip Devaraj, Project Manager at Oasis. They then walked single file holding placards with information and statistics about human trafficking starting from and returning to St.Andrew's Church, Cubbon Road via public roads in the vicinity.
The lasting impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have heightened pre-existing vulnerability–making countless individuals more susceptible to traffickers' tactics than ever before. That's why Walk For Freedom is more important than ever -- because awareness is essential to safeguarding vulnerable populations from the schemes of traffickers. There's power in gathering together, in showing up in force and equipping communities across the world with the tools to reduce vulnerability and identify victims, and take action right where they are," said Christine Caine, founder of A21.
This was Bengaluru's second year participating in the Walk for Freedom and was made possible by the coming together of the city's colleges, corporates and civil society community members. Biju Thampy, the founder of The Movement India, said: "We believe that one day we will see an India completely free of the crime of human trafficking. When every single citizen is made aware of the crime, ways to spot it and ways to stop it, we believe that human trafficking can be eradicated."
Participating organisations include non-profits such as Oasis, Mahima Foundation, Little More Love and Rotaract Club of GEMS B-School. Eatopia, a wholesome indulgence snacking brand partnered with The Movement India as an 'Evil-Free Food Partner' providing refreshments for all Walks nationwide. According to the International Labour Organisation (2022), 49.6 million are caught in various forms of modern-day slavery globally, including exploitation for commercial sex, labour, organs, forced marriages and domestic servitude.
The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) recorded a 27.7% increase in registered cases of human trafficking in 2021 as compared to 2020, with 8 children being trafficked every day in 2021, in India. Even as recently as April 2022, with the help of a trafficking survivor, police were able to arrest 3 individuals in Bengaluru, including a repeat offender, for trafficking women aboard for the flesh trade.
Moreover, in April 2022 the police in Hassan rescued 55 individuals from bonded labour. It is in this context that the Walk for Freedom Bengaluru was conducted.