In India, out of an estimated 20 million commercial sex workers, about 16 million women and girls are victims of sex trafficking according to non-government organisations working in the country, survey says. Most of the poor girls pushed into sex trade by family members, from the remote villages, to counter poverty. The father literally bargains for high prices while handling over his daughter to an agent. Once the girls come out, families rarely found whereabouts of them and rarely gets into communication with her. Researchers found that about 78 per cent of girls sold for commercial sexual exploitation were from West Bengal. Official data in 2014 showed that West Bengal accounted for about a fifth of India’s 5,466 cases of human trafficking with the state both a source and a transit location for women and children trafficked into the sex trade. Reports of human trafficking in India rose 25 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year, with more than 40 per cent of cases involving children being bought, sold and exploited as slaves, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
Recently, a study led by the My Choices Foundation in partnership with major anti-trafficking groups across India, found the average age of girls being trafficked had fallen to age 10-14 from 14-16 in the past. Fathers in rural India are the targets of a new campaign to stop traffickers trapping young girls into the sex trade as research showed the average age of girls forced into prostitution had dropped with some as young as eight. However, a key finding was the role of fathers with researchers discovering that traffickers were convincing fathers to give away their daughters by promising to arrange a marriage without the need to pay a dowry to the boy’s family or a job in a metro city. Apart from selling or bartering daughters, the large number of missing girls are mostly found in flesh trade, especially from rural area. Researchers also found during work in the field that parents were also unwilling to report a missing girl complaint to the police station fearing stigma.
Few months ago, there were two minor tribal girls of same family, aged 12 and 14, who went missing from Lemru village of Korba district in Chhattisgarh were rescued from traffickers. 11 people, including 3 women, were arrested.
The girls were raped by six ‘customers’ and were kept confined at a farmhouse. One of them was almost sold and she was supposed to be sent to another city for flesh trade. Girl trafficking is strengthening its roots in tribal dominated regions or in the rural villages, where jobs and economy is big crises.
Last year, a 17-year-old girl was sold and pushed into flesh trade in Thane. She was hailing from Bangladesh and was repeatedly raped by her friend’s acquaintance, while promising marriage at her native place. In the same month, he sold her to agents (involved in trafficking) in Bangladesh who in-turn sold her to their counterparts in India.
The girl was subsequently brought to Thane district, she was taken to customers at various places in Thane, Vashi in Navi Mumbai, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Nowadays, even social media is used on high scale for exploiting these girls. The agents take advantage of such situations. They create their FB profiles and even websites; they display their pictures inviting customers. These girls are exploited to the core and if they dare to oppose they are being assaulted brutally. Trafficking of women from the state to metros has increased, though the government has chosen a mystifying silence. More than 60,000 girls between 12 and 15 years of age work as domestic workers in Delhi and Mumbai.
One girl in every ten families is pushed into prostitution by middlemen, who take them to the cities with the promise of a job. The government should take steps to curb such violation of human rights. In a male-dominated society, women are not allowed to claim their rights.
There is another example, the ‘Rajnats’ community of Rajasthan is struggling to give up prostitution, a profession it has practised for generations. However, with no jobs on offer, even for educated members of the community, the girls have been forced to join dance bars in Mumbai. At least, it ensures a decent income and a better future for their children. The ‘rajnats’ or ‘nats’ were dancer and singers in the royal courts but were reduced to utter penury and took to prostitution with the decline of the feudal order. While most girls in the community were pushed into commercial sex, the men functioned as pimps and the tradition has continued. Though in most parts of the State, commercial sex workers have been given up, there are pockets where some girls still follow the profession because even the educated men have no jobs and the situation has become even more difficult for them.
Even if the community want their daughters to be educated and live a respectable life then also they are not getting good grooms for marrying as men are also jobless in the community. And, no one wants to have a matrimonial alliance with this particular community.
Each state is going through worst for girls; we need some drastic step towards the prevention of such practices.
Just by saying ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ is not enough.
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