Trafficking continues to be a curse on womanhood.
And, people from all over the world continue to exploit girls’ innocence for money.
Figures and studies say it all.
Uttar Pradesh stands second in the country after West Bengal when it comes to selling of girls for prostitution, reveals the 2012 data of the National Crime Records Bureau.
Another study highlights that the state has a well-established market for ‘purchased’ wives.
“There has been an increase in trafficking over the years. What is even worse is that the average age of trafficked girls is also going down, bringing more and more minors into the trade,” says Sehba Hussain, executive director, BETI Foundation.
Some are trapped by fake promises for marriage and lucrative job offers in big cities while the others are forced into the racket by parents and touts.
Having carried out studies on trafficking, Sehba feels that apart from the border cities, trafficking is prevalent in many parts of UP.
Her research has shown that parents have sold girls for petty things, and not for luxuries.
She recounts, “A couple of years we came across a case wherein a girl in Bahraich was sold by her father against a buffalo. Yet another girl was sold by her parents in Balrampur for just an okhli (grinder).”
Data by the International Labour Organisation says that the annual funds generated by trafficking human beings are as high as 32 billion US dollars.
A little less than 50% of the total victims are women, trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, it reveals.
Yet another study shows that trafficking accounts for the third largest source of funding for drugs and arms.
Those who work against the practice say Bundelkhand, Lalitpur, Mahoba, Jhansi, Ballia, Ghazipur, Varanasi and even Lucknow are the ‘grey areas’ in UP where where the practice is rampant.
“It not only the porous Indo-Nepal borders. Quite a few girls are trafficked and re-trafficked each day, especially in rural areas for petty amounts,” says Vineeta, who works for the rehabilitation of victims in Lucknow and Varanasi.
In such cases, it’s hard for the victims to recover from the physical and mental trauma, feel experts.
“Many of the victims even have children out of these relationships and they have no other option but to rear the child and face the social stigma,” she says.
Ajeet Singh, founder of ‘Gudiya’ -- an organisation that works for the rehabilitation of victims -- says, “FIRs are not registered when a girl or her family reports the crime.
Even if it is reported, there is biased investigation in most cases.” The organisation alone is fighting cases against 650 human traffickers in various courts.
But, is there a solution? “It is high time that the country resorts to strict implementation of poverty alleviation programmes.
Increasing opportunities for enhancing income is a must, if we want to curb such practices that are primarily driven by poverty,” says academician Rakesh Chandra.
Sehba Husain says, “The state needs an anti-human trafficking policy, the idea for which is pending for long now.”