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Women – Not for Sale

Empowerment of women, creating job opportunities in rural areas and strict implementation of laws against trafficking are some of the ways in which trafficking of humans can be contained

Women – Not for Sale

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  16 Jan 2023 7:17 AM GMT

Women trafficking is deeply embedded in India. Even though it is difficult to calculate the magnitude of the issue due to its hidden and unlawful nature, thousands of girls and women are trafficked throughout the country every year, as per government statistics.

Trafficking means illegitimate trade and human trafficking means trading of humans. Trafficking can take place within a particular nation or may involve activities across borders. Prostitution is said to be the earliest form of trafficking committed against human beings and is prevalent throughout the world.

Women and girls are mostly trafficked for the purpose of economic as well as sexual exploitation, distinctly forced labour and prostitution, inclusive of work in commercial agriculture and domestic work, arranged marriages, or to be 'sold' as brides. Human trafficking is a worldwide human rights issue that is denoted by exploitation through fraud and coercion methods. Even though boys and men are sufferers as well, the majority of trafficked persons pinpointed are girls and women.

It's an essential human right to live with dignity and have rights safeguarded. However, the predicament of women hasn't been modified. They have always continued tobe traumatized by violence, exploitation, aggression, discrimination, etc. Women are glorified as 'Devi or Goddesses' in ancient history and our holy texts but sadly this honour is a travesty. Indian women have been suppressed and dominated by patriarchal society for a very long time. They have been imposed to follow rigid and offensive customs. Numerous kinds of crimes have been committed against a woman in the name of customs and traditions. Female foetuses are viewed as a curse and aborted.

Factors for vulnerability to trafficking

Factors contributing to an individual's vulnerability to trafficking include prior exploitation and trauma; being a part of a marginalised group; immigrant or refugee status; disabilities; and family interference. Sometimes these elements are magnified by poverty, globalisation, political instability, and war.

The scars trafficking leaves on women

Trafficked girls and women witness extravagant physical and sexual violence, including torture and assassination, psychological abuse, dreadful living conditions, and more. Consequential mental health issues arise from trafficking like anxiety, depression, self-destructive behavior, suicidal tendencies, drugs and alcohol compulsion, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), neurological issues, chronic pain, sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV), traumatic brain injuries, etc. Women trafficking is deeply embedded in India. Even though it is difficult to calculate the magnitude of the issue due to its hidden and unlawful nature, thousands of girls and women are trafficked throughout the country every year, as per government statistics.

In an unfortunate irony, usually, the victims of women trafficking are the ones seeking to break free of India's patriarchal restrictions. Girls with aspirations endeavoring to break the cycle of poverty, do a job, earn money, choose their own life partner and make decisions independently. Sometimes gender inequality, social customs suppressing women's voices, and cultural norms imposing behaviors that are expected from them are among the elements contributing to trafficking in India.

It is undeniable that poverty exposes women and girls to several kinds of exploitation and escalates the risk of them being trafficked. Patriarchal norms also undermining their right to freedom of choice and freedom of expression and is also to be blamed. In India's rural communities, women are often confined to the domestic domain and have a very minor say in matters of getting an education or choosing their partner. With these norms being rigidly practiced, it is extremely challenging for them to find a way out of this distress.

Raising awareness is important, but soft measures are not adequate to cease trafficking and protect survivors. When working with survivors, it is crucial to support them throughout the reintegration process and monitor whether they are being treated fairly and without prejudice after returning home.

North Indian states like Haryana are renowned for the huge numbers of women forcefully brought there to get married to men struggling to find wives due to gender imbalance in the locality.

In January 2022, a man allegedly drugged a minor girl of 14 years old and forced her into prostitution. Police arrested the accused person from the Goroimari area which falls under the Kamrup district of Assam. In the month of November 2021, five persons were arrested from the Lakhimpur district of Assam in relation to women trafficking. The accused were about to perform the wedding ceremony of the two girls with two persons from Rajasthan.

In August 2020, a 16-year-old girl hailing from Barpeta was rescued by Howly police from women traders in Haryana. The girl was 'allured' and taken to Haryana for the purpose of selling her.

Another incident in March 2015, the recovery of the beheaded body of a missing minor village girl in the Darrang district in a lonely and abandoned area near Deepor Beel in Guwahati not only created a sensation but also revealed the ongoing evil practice of woman trafficking at the behest of an organised gang of anti-social elements.

A report issued by the Assam Police department in August 2020 stated that among the crimes against women, 1,952 rape cases were registered, 49 were those of trafficking, 165 of dowry deaths, 6,326 of kidnapping, and 4,359 cases were reported under the head of molestation' in 2019. According to a report accessed from the Assam Police in September 2018, the year-wise number of cases registered against the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 was, 18 in 2013, 29 in 2014, 47 in 2015, 65 in 2016, 79 in 2017 while there were 15 cases (till April) in 2018.

In November 2017, speaking on the sidelines of the event on Recommendations of the Study on Social, Economic and Political Empowerment of Women in North-east, Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma said false dreams spun by traffickers, the internet, financial weakness of the family and no means to sustain their livelihood, were some of the reasons for trafficking of women of the North-eastern region. She highlighted that there is a need to create enough employment opportunities in rural areas of the region so that unscrupulous people would not be able to lure unsuspecting victims in search of better opportunities. outside the confinement of their homes.

Focusing on empowering women eliminates their exposure to trafficking but also in creating a better and open-minded society. In order to efficaciously combat trafficking, psychologists and policymakers must collaborate to better understand the deleterious risks of trafficking and exploitation, and formulate prevention and intervention strategies for vulnerable populations. The more stringent the implementation of laws made by India's legislature, the higher the number of girls and women will be saved.

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