More Rohingya refugee women may have been forced into flesh trade in Mumbai, say activists
Around 8 lakh Rohingyas were estimated to have fled the Rakhine state in Myanmar, where they are not recognised as citizensmumbai Updated: Dec 21, 2017 11:00 IST
After the recent rescue of three Rohingyas from a brothel in Thane two months ago, anti-trafficking activists have said that more women from refugee camps in Bangladesh and India could have been forced into sex trade in and around Mumbai.
Two women were rescued by Rescue Foundation and one was rescued by Prerna, both of which are Mumbai-based NGOs. Two of the three women are reported to be minors.
The woman rescued by Prerna has been returned to her family in Bangladesh, while the other two are currently staying at the Rescue Foudnation’s Boisar-based home shelter.
Earlier this year, about 8,00,000 Rohingyas were estimated to have fled Rakhine state in Myanmar, where they are not recognised as citizens.
While most refugees fled to Bangladesh, some have moved into India and south-east Asia.
“Members of our NGO are trained to identify women who are forced into sex trade or illegally trafficked from other countries. The Rohingyas were located during one of our operation in Thane,” said Triveni Acharya, president of Rescue Foundation.
While the victims initially claimed that they were from Bangladesh, further investigation revealed that they are Rohingyas.
“Since we couldn’t identify their place of origin through the description they offered, we invited members of a Bangladeshi NGO, which assists Rohingya refugees, to come to Mumbai and speak with the victims. The conversation revealed that the women were from unregistered refugee camps, located at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.”
Sex trade victims trafficked from neighbouring countries and rescued in India have to undergo a long process of documentation to be sent back to their home countries. The rescue operation is followed by identification of the place of origin, usually based on national documents.
“In the case of Rohingya refugees, currently treated as a stateless people, the process of relocating becomes extremely difficult,” said Priti Patkar, founder-director of Prerna.