Let’s prevent sex trafficking now

Let’s prevent sex trafficking now

  
Anisha Murarka Anisha Murarka
Community Contributor

It’s time to talk about how we can help women in slums be less at risk of being trafficked into the sex trade.

In 2014, when I was leading the Rotaract club in my district, I had the opportunity to work with some young women who had been sex trafficked. Along with an expert in self-defense training, and a few volunteers, we conducted a self-defense workshop for the women.

This workshop was very successful and we got an amazing response from the girls. They were beaming with the newfound confidence needed to tackle the wrongs done to them.

It’s not easy to start over, when the past has been so traumatic. An encounter with these girls and their stories will leave you gutted and in tears. No one should have to go through what they did, and it will be a shame if we cannot protect India’s youth.

Many organisations and the Government have taken measures to rehabilitate the rescued women from sex trade and exploitation. Lives have been changed for the better. Some of the women I know are now well-settled and working in managerial positions. One is a cabin crew member at a reputable airline.

See how much potential these young lives hold? Let’s figure out how we can nip it in the bud. They say “prevention is better than cure,” and it is definitely a better idea than to keep waiting to rescue women and then rehabilitating them. What about the ones who don’t get rescued?

“Trafficking does not happen only for the flesh trade. The objectives behind the crime are also organ donation and cheap labour. While the government has applied curative measures by rescuing women from brothels, work in the preventive sense is needed,” says Nandini Thakkar, a lawyer and an activist with Save the Children.

India’s National Crime Records Bureau data indicate there were almost 5,500 cases involving human trafficking in 2014. As the law does not differentiate between human trafficking and sex work, and there are no formal guidelines on identification in rescue and raid situations, it is impossible to know if every one of these cases involved force or children, or whether some were simply cases of economic survival.

Women and girls face significant discrimination and high rates of sexual violence across India. This is particularly true for women and girls from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, despite a raft of legislative and criminal justice reforms.

Current stats:

1,311,051,000 Population

1.40% Estimate percentage of population living in Modern Slavery

18,354,700 Estimate number living in Modern Slavery

51.35/100 Vulnerability to Modern Slavery

Do you know that in India, only Mumbai has a special court for cases related to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act? The state government has constituted special cells in 12 vulnerable districts and set up special courts for speedy trial of trafficking cases. The conviction rate in such cases is 50 per cent (in Maharashtra), which is very good compared to the other states of the country.

This cause is certainly not getting the attention and help it needs. Most of these cases go unnoticed, and we don’t know if the person charged has been convicted. To convict an offender is not an easy task. The victim might not be able to fend for herself and an offender who gets acquitted has a high chance of re-offending.

How can you help?

Let’s discuss how we can best deal with the issue, what the best practices are, and if we need more stringent laws and better convictions.

If you know someone who is working in this field, please connect them to me, so we can join hands to work together. Every drop makes an ocean. Your help is needed now more than ever.

*Data has been taken from Walk Free Foundation and International Labour Organization, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration.

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Anisha Murarka Anisha Murarka
Community Contributor