By Keisam Pradipkumar
Miss Boinu Haokip 15 years (name changed) from Churachandpur district, never dreamed that she would be sexually abused many times, when she reached Mizoram. She left home with a high hope of getting some training cum job in a beauty parlour, however she was forced to enter in the flesh trade. They did not give food, harassed and kept her inside a locked room and threatened that she would be killed. When she was rescued after many weeks from Mizoram, she was so traumatized that she even could not narrate the ordeal she went through, before the Child Welfare Committee, in Imphal.
In recent times, Manipur has become a fertile source for Child Trafficking, with many children including young girls, have been trafficked to other Indian states and foreign countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. In October 2008 five girls from Tamenglong district narrated their nightmarish experience suffered in Malaysia and Singapore breaking the deafening silence of all concerned stake holders. Around 350 trafficked children from the state have been rescued and repatriated to Manipur under the supervision of Child Welfare Committees and Department of Social Welfare, Govt. of Manipur during the last three years.
However, a number of cases of child trafficking still remained unresolved, either unreported or untraceable. The absence of a comprehensive legislation for combating child trafficking results in lack of speedy investigation, charging, prosecution and sentencing of traffickers. Besides, providing adequate support services for the rescue, counseling, care, repatriation, rehabilitation and healing of children who have been trafficked are the need of the hour.
International Campaign against Child Trafficking (ICACT) report reveals that children are trafficked into forced labour, illegal adoptions, forced marriages, for begging and criminal activities, to transport and sell narcotics, into gangs, conflict and armies, for their organs and body parts or cult rituals; and for sexual exploitation, this includes child prostitution and child pornography.
As more vulnerable they are, women and children bear the brunt of human trafficking at the most. The ever spiraling down economy, widening gaps between haves and have-nots, degrading social values, conflict and hostile environment are impacting largely upon gender equity; resulting in growing number of violence against women in our society, irrespective of domestic and outside, marked with series of torture, rape, murder, fake suicide etc. Misusing of mobile phones, opening of restaurants with dark and secluded rooms, easy accessibility to pornographic films have also encouraged pre marital sex and sexual violence against women.
Another perceptible social index showing an enduring gender violence agonizing our mothers, sisters and daughters would be, the sharp declining sex ratio among the children. Manipur state’s alarmingly declining trend in sex ratio i.e. falling down to 934 in the year 2011 from 957 in the year 2001 ( in the age group 0-6) is a matter of great concern. It is evident that existing legislations failed the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception thereby killing many girls before getting birth in this land, where people are proud of Sharmila, Mary Kom, Kunjarani and many lady luminaries.
We are lamenting that number of conflict widows and PLHA widows are increasing day by day as Manipur, being a armed conflict zone and a state gravely afflicted by HIV/AIDS menace. Obviously, females ought to be outnumbered the male population. However, in contrast to the aforesaid backdrop, population of women ever remains low comparatively to males. The latest sex ratio of Manipur state as per 2011 census stands as 987, means there is 987 female for every 1000 male.
Here, a relatable question is where have gone those women? Leaving aside the female feticides issue, the unreported and clandestine trafficking of women and girls would be another prime reason for diminishing of women population in our society.
It is reported that state like Punjab, is presently facing a sheer decline of female population due to varied reasons. It is opined that certain repressive measures used for countering insurgency movement in Punjab during emergency period had badly affected the fertility rate in Punjab. Punjab has total population sex ratio of 893, and 846 in the age group of 0-6 yrs as per 2011census. Further, Punjab is said to be having certain villages recorded “ Almost without female population” . In order to fill up such a shocking low declining sex ratio and large human void, trafficking of women from other states is highly needed. Because, such trafficked women are forced to marry as common wife for many brothers, and would be treated as sex slave. Keeping a common wife for many husbands or brothers saves monitory expenses.
Ms Ranjana MM, State Programme officer, ICDS Manipur, also an imminent social thinker opined “ The drastic sex ratio is testimony of various social dynamics implicating the women and womanhood, it should be timely resolved.” Emphasizing the need of further research and study on the linkages of trafficking vis-à-vis declining sex ratio, she said “ We must be vigilant about the emerging trafficking trends, otherwise many girls would be fallen in the tricky hands of traffickers and chances of being trafficked for common wife or sex slaves are very high”.
Considering aforesaid and other similar thriving pull factors, the most recent reason for Trafficking of North Eastern women, among others, is arguably for forced marriage and common wife.
Therefore, in a society like Manipur, having various overriding diverse push factors, such as unemployment, conflict, displacement, globalization, HIV/AIDS epidemic, hostile environment; the frequent reports of missing of young married women, girls, huge migration of young girls to outside states in search of jobs must be observed from a redefined perpective .
It is high time that civil societies and states of north eastern region, and particularly the Manipur state to be alert and well equipped in order to shield their children, daughters and sisters from the clandestine ways of Children and Women trafficking.