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Quake survivors vulnerable to human trafficking and child labour

Crisis of a different kind could grip the quake affected areas, trying to grapple with the devastation caused by the 6.9 magnitude quake that had hit on September 18. North Sikkim was the worst effected with nearly a hundred dead and many still missing. Amitava Banerjee reports.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2011 19:57 IST
Amitava Banerjee

Crisis of a different kind could grip the quake affected areas, trying to grapple with the devastation caused by the 6.9 magnitude quake that had hit on September 18. North Sikkim was the worst effected with nearly a hundred dead and many still missing.

The survivors of the quake (mainly from remote areas who have lost their families and support system) along with suffering from malnutrition, disease are also vulnerable to human trafficking.

Studies conducted by numerous worldwide and Indian agencies clearly indicate that women and children are highly vulnerable to trafficking in such conditions.

United Nation’s Division for the Advancement of Women states that following Tsunami, women were vulnerable to traffickers who were taking advantage of those who had lost their family and support networks both social and financial and who are desperate to find a route out of their situation.

UNICEF even expresses similar views stating that child survivors face major risks from human traffickers. Disaster effects lead to child labour, child trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“At present we have not received any such report. Most of the Sikkim roads are closed owing to the landslides triggered by the quake. However as soon as things starts to normalize, the vulnerability factor will grow. We are definitely keeping a close tab” stated PK Pradhan, Additional Superintendent of Police in charge of the anti-trafficking Cell, Sikkim.

The Kosi floods in Bihar in 2008 had affected 35 lakh people including over a lakh children. Child trafficking had become rampant sometimes with the consent of parents. Post Tsunami super cyclone in Orissa, many children were trafficked off as cheap labour.

According to a UNICEF report 2500 children were trafficked in North Biharfollowing damages cause by heavy rains in 2007. The relief camps of Bhuj,Gujarat following the 26 January 2001 quake had become highly vulnerable to human trafficking, drug trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“Our society is not matured enough to handle such problems. There are traffickers always on the look out for such situations whereby they take full advantage promising the survivors jobs and a way out from their misery” stated Nirnay John Chettri, of MARG an NGO.

“Youth of Darjeeling and Sikkim are highly gullible. Often they are lured with promises of good jobs and then many end up being exploited. While the ones from the urban areas are promised call center jobs, the most vulnerable are girls from the rural areas and tea gardens who are lured with promises of jobs in shopping malls and beauty parlours and finally land up in brothels in Pune, Bangalore and other metros” stated Chettri.

Initially jobs are given to such girls but they are often taken to parties, befriend men. Soon they get used to glamorous life style, money and finally land up as Flying Sex workers (FSW.) Reports are that with the opening up of discos and casinos in Sikkim the number of FSW has also shot up.