SOS Call on Girls and Women Trafficking

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    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.

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