A large number of children come in contact with Indian Railways as abandoned, trafficked, homeless and run-away from their homes. In 1994, UNICEF estimated that 11 million street children live in India, and most of these children are living at and around Railway Stations. They travel to different parts of the country through trains and use railway premises for shelter and livelihood. The moment they arrive on the platform they are vulnerable to all forms of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation. Without much support, their vulnerability puts them at risk from various forms of abuses, health issue and deprivation of a childhood.
The Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Women & Child Welfare Development decided to come together combat the problem. Railway developed “Standard Operating Procedue (SOP) for Railways to ensure Care and Protection of Children” in coordination with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). NCPCR, during the year 2015, focused on the security and well-being of run-away, unaccompanied and trafficked children, who use railway premises for shelter and livelihood. On 05.03.2015 on the occasion of its Foundation Day, Hon’ble Minister, WCD graced the occasion and released the revised ‘Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)’, prepared and issued by the Ministry of Railways.
The SOP contains guidelines and instructions for railway officials to ensure care and protection of children coming in contact with railways. The SOP has been implemented at 20 Railways stations across the country in first phase.