No humanity towards trafficking victims
I read this story about kidnapped young girls being kept in a Gujarat village:
When Kishan reached Bavla with the Mumbai Police to rescue his daughter in June he found her in a house at Meni village. But a village mob stopped the vehicle. “A huge mob surrounded us and snatched the girl away from us,” said Mumbai Police Inspector P R Wagh.
“Pachason aisee ladkiyan hamarey gaon mein hain, lekin hum unhe nahin denge (numerous such girls are there in our village and we will not return them) the villagers told the police.
I was shocked that villagers were not cooperating with the police. I know that this sort of thing must be happening elsewhere too, but these kind of stories need to be highlighted. More than just a heinous crime has taken place here…there has been public apathy and collusion. This story and similar stories should appear on news channels day after day until all of us feel ashamed. How else will trafficking ever decline? If people perpetuate these inhuman crimes just because those girls are from “outside” their region and community (which they invariably are) what is the future for humanity?
These two maps will illustrate where the girls are brought from and where they go (watch the arrows). For a bigger picture, click on the image.
Delhi and Mumbai are hubs, and that’s because they are “the main transit zones for international movement” but it’s not as if victims are not picked up from these cities. They are, from the poorer areas. At times even middle class girls become victims (more on that below).
Victims are moved from poorer areas to richer areas (for sale) and moved from poorer countries to the richer countries.
There was a recent report about as many as 100 children disappearing from camps for displaced Reang tribes in India’s north-eastern state of Tripura. Such camps are regularly targeted by trafficking networks. In fact thousands of women and children have gone missing from camps for displaced people in western Assam since the late 1990s. Another report [June 08] report stated that trafficking in Assam has reached dangerous proportions. But statistics are just the tip of the iceberg. Real figures are hidden as no one wants to admit that a family member has been trafficked. It’s a matter of great shame in India as the girls themselves are blamed.
Sex tourism fueling demand
This is another lucrative market for traffickers. Laws in developed countries are far too strict for pedophiles to operate in their own countries with the kind of impunity they enjoy here. Both boys and girls are at risk. Unfortunately our investigating agencies cannot successfully prosecute even if plenty of evidence is available! Just today there was the case of two Britishers (Duncan Grant, a charity worker, and Allan Waters) who were acquitted because prosecutors could not make the testimony of the victims stick. I won’t be surprised if some sort of money has exchanged hands here.
The information below is from an NHRC report.
How victims are subdued and silenced
Plain and simple violence does the trick. The victims are starved, locked up in a dark rooms, beaten, burnt with cigarette butts, bound, forced to drink, drugged, strangled, stabbed or killed (if all else fails). Attempts are made to create dependency on drugs and alcohol.
Children break within 7 to 10 days.
How they are targeted
Place: Recruited from public places like cinema halls, bus stops, railway stations, airports, cafes, restaurants, beauty contests and beauty parlours, state and national highways, quarry and construction work sites, and areas where people are displaced without proper homes. Impoverished areas or those which have suffered climatic, economic or political disasters are targeted.
Methods: Tactics used are drugging, kidnapping, as well as persuasion, material inducements, befriending and deception. Offers of fake jobs or false marriages are common. As offers of marriage without dowries are welcomed, parents are tempted. Marriage bureaus, job placement and tutorial agencies are often a front for luring people. Middle class girls are often approached at home with promises of job offers, at times in foreign countries. Needless to say once the girls are taken, their families don’t get any money and the girls don’t either. They are simply given food and shelter.
Who approaches the victims? They can be neighbours, family friends, relatives of friends, acquaintances returned from abroad, women who have been trafficked themselves, husbands, fathers, boyfriends or lovers. Just about anyone! At times gay men are used because they are trusted by women because of their sexual orientation.
Profile of the traffickers: Young men and middle-aged women who are former prostitutes or victims of forced prostitution are most likely offenders. Many of them are drug addicts or gamblers and often are fluent in several languages. Traffickers may operate alone, or in small gangs.
From the police, visa/passport officials, railway/bus authorities and employees, taxi/autorickshaw drivers or rickshaw pullers, corrupt public officials, brothel operators, guides or even the local people…all are in cahoots!!
We have the laws, but most often it’s the victims who get the short end of the stick, not the traffickers. A law was enacted recently which targets clients and pimps instead of the girls but I wonder if it’s working. Without sensitisation of the police these laws are of no use.
Difficult for victims to get back to a normal life
India also does not have adequate infrastructure for rescue and rehabilitation. Families rarely take them back and therefore even if victims are rescued, they see no other choice but to go back to their old life. These people cannot be considered “willing” prostitutes. If a girl who has been trafficked at the age of 12 or 14 is rescued a few years later, and her family refuses to accept her back, what will she do? Is she even in the right mental state to start a new life on her own after the horrors of her existence? And will any man marry her?
Update, July 25th: The two Britishers may have walked free due to shoddy investiagation/poor legal system/bribes taken in India but back home they are going to be investigated, according to this report:
A leading British agency working for children’s rights, End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children (ECPAT), has written to the Home Office asking that the British government specifically ask for Grant and Waters’ deportation to ensure that the two men do not leave India for any other country. Once there, they should be restricted from leaving Britain till Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre which is led by the British Police investigates Grant and Waters and gives them a clean chit, says ECPAT in its letter to Parliamentary under-secretary of the state.
Related Reading: Bar girls evicted from their homes!
A new law to prevent prostitutes from becoming victims of the police and the courts
Sex Tourism growing in India
India doesn’t want to admit that its children go missing!
About 45000 kids go missing in India every year
What is the root cause of child labour?
No long-term rehabilitation for street kids
The abuse of domestics, particularly children