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`Trafficking of women from Assam on the rise’

Thursday 26 October 2006, by TALUKDAR*Sushanta

Problem low on the list of priorities of police due to law and order problems

Refugees, homeless are easy targets Batches of girls openly sold in Haryana, Punjab

Guwahati: Every year an average of 250 women and 200 girl children go missing in Assam who, the Assam Police fear, are being trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation to different parts of the country such as Haryana, Punjab, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Goa, Siliguri and Bihar.

This was revealed by Inspector-General of Police, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Assam Police, G. Bhuyan at the three-day national media consultation on Human Trafficking, HIV/AIDS and Drug Trafficking which began here on Tuesday.

Mr. Bhuyan said that the actual figure of trafficked women and children might be higher as many cases are not reported. He expressed apprehension that the cases of trafficking of women and children from Assam to different parts of the country would go up in the coming days due to various factors such as poverty, structural inequalities, unemployment and intricate relations between demand and supply in the sex market and skewed sex ratio in states such as Punjab and Haryana.

The two-day media consultation was organized by the National Media Coalition in collaboration with the UNIFEM, Shakti Vahini and the Shillong-based Impulse NGO Network to build positive partnership for right based sensitive media reporting on these issues.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who chaired the inaugural session admitted that the problem of trafficking of women and drugs in the state was serious and stressed on the need for concerted efforts by government, law enforcement agencies, media and NGOs to change the mindset of the people and root out this menace.

The senior police official revealed that some of the target areas for trafficking include refugee camps of internally displaced persons due to the ethnic conflict between Bodos and the Adivasis, Char or riverine areas, people affected by flood, erosion, tribal and non-tribal girls from poor families, girls from broken homes and widows.

Mr. Bhuyan said that trafficked women and children were lured into marriage by making a token payment to their parents and then sold off, enticed by "so called recruitment agents who promise jobs in the unorganized sectors" and later sold off, lured to work as models, bar girls, at call centres and pushed into prostitution.

He said that due to preoccupation with counter insurgency operations and high priority for law and order duties, the problem of trafficking had been low in the list of priorities of the Police.

About the anti-trafficking measures initiated by the Assam Police, the IGP said that all district superintendents of police have been asked to ensure that all police stations and outposts under their jurisdiction give special attention to the investigation of crime against women with utmost seriousness. Besides, the police stations have been asked to maintain utmost vigilance at railway stations and bus stops.

Underlining the need for sensitive media reporting on trafficking, executive director of Shakti Vahini, Ravi Kant said trafficking for women from Assam to Punjab and Haryana has been on the rise due to the skewed sex ratio in these two states. In some cases minor girls in batches of four or five who have been trafficked from Assam are openly put up for sale at prices ranging from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 30,000 in some panchayats of Haryana, he said. Such girls are known as Paros in Haryana, he added.

Mr. Kant stressed on the need for law enforcement agencies of the states like Haryana, Punjab and Assam to work in close coordination to combat trafficking.

See online : The Hindu

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