Bengal tops UN list of missing kids, Women

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KOLKATA: More than 13,000 women and children from Bengal went untraceable in 2011. Where did they go? Were they abducted? Were they sold for money? Are they still alive? None has an answer. The year before, around 28,000 women and children went missing and 19,000 of them remained untraceable.

Missing women and children are ever increasing numbers in government files and reports by various organizations. But for their families, the hope never dies. they are lives, dearer than their own.

The Barui (name changed) family of Madhyamgram spent sleepless nights when their 16-year-old daughter did not contact them for more than six months. Last year, a neighbour took her along with him to Burdwan promising her a get her a governess’ job at a doctor’s house in Burdwan. Never could her mother and brother imagine that she would land up in a dingy hotel in Ahmedabad where she will be forced into prostitution.

The girl was lucky enough to get a chance to call her brother after six months. Her brother got in touch with the local police, who sent a team and conducted a joint raid with the Ahmedabad police. But not all are lucky like this girl.

The recent report of United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) titled ‘Anti Human Trafficking, 2013′ revealed that out of over 19,000 women and children reported missing in West Bengal in 2011, only 6,000 could be traced.

The report, currently with the Union home ministry, gives the number of women and children went missing between 2009 and 2011. Bengal, with a huge porous international border (2,217 kms with Bangladesh, 92 kms with Nepal and 175 kms with Bhutan)

tops the list. From Jalpaiguri in north to North and South 24 Parganas in south Bengal almost all districts of the state are vulnerable to trafficking.

On the northern side districts like Darjeeling, North and South Dinajpur, Cooch Behar and Malda having international borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan are identified as trafficking prone. The districts of North and South 24 Parganas are other vulnerable areas prone to trafficking on the southern side.

“The prevalence is highest in three districts in Bengal, including Murshidabad, North and South 24-Parganas. It mostly poverty-driven and can only be stopped with a large-scale livelihood programmes,” a senior IPS officer who was closely associated with an anti-trafficking drive in the state, said. “In 2001, number of missing children in West Bengal was 368 whereas in 2010 the figure was 8,599. In 2010 the number of missing women from Bengal stood at 6,514, compared to only 196 in 2001 the number of missing women was 196 whereas in,” the report said.

“Natural disasters leading to poverty and a general condition of hunger are two major reasons. Lack of awareness and declining value system are other factors,” said Manabendra Mandal, director of Socio-Legal Aid Research and Training Center. “The figures quoted by UNODC seems lower than the actual as they are based on police records. But in several cases these are not reported,” Mandal said.

Children and women from Bengal are mostly trafficked to Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, revealed the study. After this the destinations are Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. Some new destinations that have been identified are Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Haridwar, the report found after ten months of intensive consultations with various government and non-government stakeholders.

“The challenge lies in getting it reported when a victim is being trafficked. In order to reach out to people, we want to promote the reporting of cases of missing children through cellphones,” said Manabendra Nath Ray, deputy programme director, Save The Children, India. “To report a missing child or sighting of an unaccompanied child, a member of the public will call a dedicated number to report the case,” he said.

Shakti Vahini, one of the NGOs active in trafficking issues, felt that CID has been able to increase tracing of trafficked victims. The United nations office points out that despite legal provisions there has been increasing reports of women being trafficked into prostitution in the name of domestic workers or stage performers in Middle East countries. Illegal recruitment agencies are very active in the North East, North Bengal, Kerala and Maharashtra.

Our very own Malala: trafficked at 12, crusader and global Girl Hero at 18

trafficking story

PUBLISHED IN THE TELEGRAPH03metlady_184626

Anoyara Khatun was all of 13 when she led an army of children across a canal at midnight, caught a trafficker and saved a family on the verge of losing their teenage daughter to a trafficking ploy in the name of marriage.

She has since managed to save at least 50 minor girls from child marriage.

n A few months after her first act of courage, Anoyara managed to pin down a trafficking tout along with a battalion of children and taught him a lesson he would find hard to forget.

Till date, she has foiled nearly 85 trafficking attempts, helped rescue and reunite more than 200 children with their families and got 200 dropouts back into school.

n The following year, when former education minister Kanti Biswas was on his way back from a village in Sandeshkhali in the Sunderbans, Anoyara and her army of kids trooped in, blocked his path and forced him to accede to their demand to build more schools in the village.

03metanwara15_184914Today, Sandeshkhali has 84 schools.

The first thing that strikes you about Anoyara, 18, is that her eyes speak. They are large, luminous and transfix you at once.

She is seated on a stool outside the Dhagagia Social Welfare Society’s office in Sandeshkhali, her face radiant in the afternoon sun as she contemplates the world around her.

“Don’t you think this place is beautiful?” she asks, her eyes scanning the expanse of green on one side and the water bodies on the other.

She is clearly in love with the hinterland to which she belongs and has taken upon herself to protect.

Her world wasn’t always so beautiful. It couldn’t have been after being trafficked at 12.

But this powerhouse of a girl from Chhoto Askara, a tiny village that is part of Bengal’s most trafficking-prone belt, isn’t the type to dwell in the past. Anoyara has not only left her private hell behind but also rebuilt her life as an activist leading an army of children who battle trafficking and child marriage in quirky little ways.

Her courage and commitment to protecting the girl child has been widely recognised, the biggest honour coming from the foundation led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

03metleadAnoyara is one of the “Girl Heroes” from across the world that the Malala Fund is currently celebrating for 30 days — from October 11 to November 9 — as a beacon of “exemplary courage and leadership”.

The Malala Fund, which focuses on helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education, has tagged Anoyara as “#StrongerThan Social Ills like Child Trafficking and Early Marriage” and anointed her a “true Girl Hero”.

But long before Anoyara emerged as a force against exploitation, she had to grapple with a dark and traumatic phase in her life.

Born in 1996 as the youngest among four siblings — three sisters and a brother — Anoyara lost her father when she was five. Her mother began working as a cook in a local school to feed the family but life was hard.

“I was going to school but had to drop out when I was in Class VI,” recalls Anoyara, who doesn’t like to revisit her past. “I don’t like to talk about what I have left behind. I like to talk about how I am moving forward in life,” she says with a conviction nobody can defy.

Anoyara was barely 12 when she was trafficked to Delhi and forced into domestic labour, a hellhole she managed to run away from after a year. The transition from victim to victor was quick, a trait that has since defined her work as an activist.

Anoyara reels off a list of activities she and her children’s groups in the area have been involved in to spread awareness among villagers about child marriage and trafficking.

We also learn that she is now the leader of as many as 80 children’s groups across 40 villages in Sandeshkhali.

These groups are all affiliated to Save the Children and the Dhagagia Social Welfare Society-run multi-activity centre, which Anoyara had joined when she was 13.

“There were only 10 groups when I joined and then I got more girls like me to join in. Now there are more than 1,600 children and I keep track of all of them!” she smiles, holding up the Nokia C1 phone that she uses to keep in touch with her groups.

“I got this (the phone) three years ago as a prize in Ranchi. It helps me in my work because I can connect with people and children’s groups can call me any time.”

For a fleeting moment, the child in the 18-year-old surfaces. “We don’t have a television at home but I can listen to songs on this phone. Nachiketa and Shreya Ghoshal are my favourites,” Anoyara says, breaking into a smile.

She quickly goes back to describing how her groups operate around Sandeshkhali I and II and Minakhan, quizzing families on the whereabouts of children they have married off or sent out with strangers to work. “You know, my sisters were all married off at 13 or 14. None of us knew anything about child marriage at the time. For us, it was a custom,” she recounts.

Her sharp eyes soften as the conversation delves deeper into the subject. “When you endure a lot of pain, trouble and misery, you take it as a challenge to overcome that. Adversity was my driving force. I realised that if I didn’t bounce back from my ordeal, many more girls from Sandeshkhali would go missing. It became a mission and a challenge to myself to put a stop to exploitation of children and keep them from falling into the dangerous trap of trafficking or child marriage.”

But turning pain into power was far from easy for Anoyara, who had just stepped into her teens when her mission began.

“Before reaching out to people in the villages, I had to convince my own family to allow me to step out of the house. I reminded them of the pain they had gone through when I was away and how important it was to get other families to realise the dangers too,” she says.

Breaking the ice with villagers indifferent to “worldly advice” from a bunch of “precocious children” was the next challenge. “They would say, ‘What do you kids know? Who are you to tell us?’ It was difficult to get the elders to pay attention to us but we never gave up. We would keep visiting them endlessly till they were convinced and clear about what we as children were trying to tell them.”

Anoyara’s courage came to the fore when she saved a girl from the clutches of touts and captured the men with help of a group of children her age. “In our village, people go to sleep by eight and children aren’t allowed outside. I managed to get out of the house, take some friends along, chased the traffickers across the village, jumped canals and caught them. It was a huge risk but it changed the way elders looked at us.”

She went on to become a role model in her village and the adjoining areas, employing out-of-the-box strategies for her children’s army to stalk, spot, seize and hand over traffickers to the authorities.

“Our first rule is to follow any outsider we see in the village and pass the message to each other at the multi-activity centre. If we find them going into a house, two or three of us will playfully saunter in, hang around, eavesdrop on the conversation and then come back and report to the group,” she reveals.

“If we realise that the person has wrong intentions and could be a potential trafficker, we immediately meet the child in question and explain why they should not go away with the stranger. Then we go and meet the family as a group to help them understand too. And if we find them running away with a child, we will drag them to the centre of the village and tie them up.”

While some traffickers mend their ways and even join the child protection committees in the villages, others don’t dare enter Anoyara’s territory again.

She takes you to a multi-activity centre to meet one of the children’s groups with a spring in her step, smiling at the children who squeal: “Didi! Didi!”

“How are you? Have you eaten? Why are you looking glum? Smile!” Anoyara tells the children, later joining them in a game of Chinese Whispers.

Keya Parvin, a 15-year-old member of one of the children’s groups, has something to tell us. “Do you know that once we children raided a wedding and stopped a family from marrying off a child? We have learnt so much from Didi. All of us want to be like her.”

The advantages of being a child activist are many, according to Anoyara. “Children will always be the first ones to know. And a child will always listen to someone her age and treat her like a friend. An adult would most likely try to instruct,” she says.

“Everyone from Maulvis and Brahmins to village heads and the police listen to us now. But that doesn’t mean we are rebels. We respect elders.”

Anoyara had been nominated for The International Children’s Peace Prize in 2012, an award that went to Malala the next year. Last June, she travelled to Brussels to represent Save The Children in a Global Partnership for Education conference.

Aamar passport hobey, bideshey jabo…bhabtei parini (I couldn’t have imagined that I would have a passport and go abroad). I loved the glass buildings and ate a lot of chocolates. I also met Malala’s father,” recalls Anoyara, who idolises Malala.

“I want to be like her someday. I was so happy the day she won the Nobel. I keep news clippings of her whenever I find one.”

While Anoyara aspires to be like Malala, nothing gives her more satisfaction than bringing a missing girl back home or stopping a child marriage.

She has made it a ritual to organise a big children’s party whenever a trafficked child returns to Sandeshkhali. “We collect money and organise a feast of dal, bhaja and egg curry at the multi-activity centre. We sing, dance and play from morning till evening. And then, like a friend, we get the rescued child to talk to us, share her misery and join our group.”

For Anoyara, the joy comes from providing the love and protection that she had once yearned for. “What I didn’t get I try to give to others,” she says.

Alongside her busy schedule, Anoyara is studying for her graduation in a local college. She is the first from her village to go this far.

An average day in her life means waking up at 6am, reading namaz and tutoring 25 children before leaving for college. Back home by 4pm, she goes around her village checking on the children.

Like most teenage girls, Anoyara loves her trinkets, kajal and the colour pink. The one thing that irks her is the idea of keeping pets. “I love cats and dogs but I don’t like the idea of caging anyone, be it animals or humans. They should all be set free.”

Her refuge from the nightmare of being caged is a little diary full of songs and poems. They are all about human trafficking and tell you a bit about her suffering as a child. “Mon kharap holei aami likhi (I write when I am sad),” she says.

Her ambition is to learn English, computers and cycling. “I think these will make me braver,” she says, not bothering to elaborate.

Once again her eyes do the talking.

What message do you have for Anoyara Khatun? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com

Girl’s rescue in Delhi exposes trafficking racket in Bengal

1013140_10151874027915798_2119845624_nPUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

The rescue of the 16-year-old girl, haling from Haroa in North 24 Parganas, from a red light area in Delhi last week, seems to have busted a trafficking racket.

North 24 Parganas police have arrested Sk Sabir alias Rohit, the main accused, who kidnapped and trafficked the girl.

“The investigation has revealed that the accused is a habitual offender and we are probing whether he has trafficked other girls out of the State,” Bhaskar Mukherjee, Additional Superintendent of Police, North 24 Parganas, told The Hindu on Monday.

Mr. Mukherjee said that another woman Tanjina Khatum, an accomplice of the main accused, who used to befriend young girls, has also been detained.

The police said they have rescued another minor from the custody of Khatum. Meanwhile, the police have learnt that Sabir was in touch with two more young girls and was trying to lay a trap for them. It has also been learnt that the main accused is a resident of Purba Medinipur and operated in North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts. Sabir was arrested on August 9.

During a joint raid by representatives of a non-government organisation Shakti Vahini, West Bengal police, and the Delhi police, a 16-year-old student of class X was rescued earlier this month. The girl was abducted in June and her brother and other relatives went to Delhi to rescue her. A trafficker identified as Roshni, and hailing from the State was arrested in Delhi and brought to the State.

Rishi Kant, an activist with Shakti Vahini, said the development points to a trafficking racket operating out of the State. “Since the source trafficker has been arrested he believed that he is involved in other cases of trafficking and it requires attention of a special agency,” he said, adding that the organisation will be writing to the State Criminal Investigation Department to take over the case. The activist added that there is a need to expand the ambit of investigation and bring those operating in Delhi in the purview of investigation.

Faridabad maid’s death: One held, second autopsy likely

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NEW DELHI: Six days after a tribal girl from Uttar Dinajpur in West Bengal was found dead in mysterious circumstances at the residence of her employers in sector 49, the Faridabad police arrested the owner of a Delhi-based placement agency, Rafiq, on Saturday. He had been booked on the basis of an FIR on a complaint of the deceased domestic worker’s mother. With a second postmortem to establish the cause of death expected only by Monday, the girl’s decomposing body, for now protected by ice bars, lies in an ill-equipped and mice-infested “dead house” in Faridabad.

The police personnel of Dabua Chowki, under Saran police station, arrested Rafiq, who owns Laxmi Placement Agency in Tughlaqabad. He had allegedly brought the girl from her village after taking the consent of a relative, according to the mother, who was unaware of her daughter’s presence in the city.

The police will also be investigating the role of the affluent family that hired the girl for house work in March allegedly for a meagre Rs 3500 despite the fact that she appeared to be a minor. The police have registered a case against both the placement agency owner and her employers under sections related to kidnapping, trafficking, child labour, abetment to suicide and Juvenile Justice Act applicable to minors. The mother also wants a case to be registered under the SC/ST Atrocities Act.

The mother, herself a domestic worker employed in Janakpuri, has alleged that her daughter was only 13 and a very strong person who could not have committed suicide. She has claimed that the child, who was going to school in her village, was brought to Delhi without informing her husband who was taking care of the children while she worked in the capital.

The mother has, meanwhile, expressed shock to learn that a postmortem had already been conducted without her permission and the report declared it to be an ordinary death due to hanging, making it a case of suicide. She has now sought a fresh post-mortem.

Compounding the tragedy is the growing concern over the decomposing body and desperate search for space for burial. Social workers from NGO Shakti Vahini were seen frantically reaching out to different Christian institutions as they tried to seek space in a cemetery. “We were shocked when confronted by the demand for a certificate to show that she was a Catholic Christian before she could get burial space. When we told them that we did not have any such document and explained the situation, we were turned away,” said Rishikant of the NGO.

Similar resistance to burying a minor domestic worker from Jharkhand was witnessed last year and had led the NCPCR to issue directions wherein a list of churches and pastors in Delhi was drawn up for such cases. On Saturday too former NCPCR member Vinod Tikoo reached out to YMCA to intervene in the matter and resolve the crisis.

Girl trafficked from Bengal rescued

UTTAR PRADESH TRAFFICKING CASEPUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

A 15-year-old girl trafficked from Murshidabad district of West Bengal was rescued from a village in Shahjahanpur district in Uttar Pradesh on Friday.

The rescue operation was jointly conducted by the police forces of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh along with NGO Shakti Vahini. According to the police, the minor girl was trafficked by one Murjina (40) who sold her as a “bride” to a resident of the Uttar Pradesh village.

“The alleged trafficker, a resident of Sardarpara of Murshidabad district, approached the girl and asked if she wanted to learn shakha pola , traditional bangles worn by married Bengali women. Both became friends and nearly a week later, Murjina convinced her to visit her house, where she offered her food that made her unconscious. On the same day she was taken to Delhi by train,” the police said.

In the Capital, Murjina, a factory worker in Delhi, used to take the victim with her to the workplace so that she could not escape.

“After 10/12 days the girl was handed over to a man who married her forcefully. She was then confined in his house in a remote Uttar Pradesh village, from where she was rescued,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini.

The police were tipped-off about her whereabouts in the Mundka area of Delhi. The West Bengal police team reached Delhi and coordinated with the Shakti Vahini team. A raid was conducted in Mundka on Friday and a person Santosh was detained. He, a cousin of the alleged trafficker, confessed that the girl was confined in the U.P. village.

The police and the NGO team rushed to Shahjahanpur district and contacted the local police. With their assistance the girl was rescued. She was then brought to Delhi by the police team, which was accompanied by her father. “The girl will be produced before the Child Welfare Committee, Murshidabad. As per the direction of the Child Welfare Committee she will be given care and protection,” the police said.

Shakti Vahini- Spearheading Indias Fight Against Human Trafficking

EI SAMAY CAMPAIGNEI SAMAY – KOLKATTA 16 JANUARY 2014

Hasi and Khushi

EI SAMAY 7

EI SAMAY WEST BENGAL

This is a story of two sisters Hasi and Khushi, who lived at Rajshahi, in Bangladesh. Their father had passed away, and mother was working in Muscat. So their grandparents were the only family that they had. Hasi had studied till class X, though Khushi’s education was cut off due to financial problems, when she was in class VII. Although life was difficult, the four of them were somehow able to keep their body and soul together.

One day, Hasi and Khushi were invited to their elder sister’s place, which was at quite a distance from their village. On their way, they met a man who introduced himself as Raju. He was quite friendly, and did not seem unnatural. Although a stranger, there began to grow a bond of friendship especially between Hasi and Raju. Within a few hours, the friendship began to change into love. They exchanged phone numbers and departed for the time being. On their way back from sister’s place, once again they ran into Raju, and once again they walked the rest of the way together, laughing and chatting.

Quite a few months have passed after that. One day Raju proposes marriage to Hasi, and asks her to meet him at a relative’s house. He tells her his decision of completing the legal procedures for marriage that day itself. Hasi agrees, and decides to leave her house without letting anyone know. However, Khushi comes to know of it and insists that she Hasi should take her with her. Finally, they reach the place, but due to some ‘unusual problem’ the registry does not take place. So the two sisters return home, fruitlessly.

A few days later, Raju informs Hasi that he has got a job in India, and that both of them will have to stay in India after marriage. Hasi does not refuse the offer, because her love cannot be limited by geographical boundaries. With the dream of a new family in her eyes, she leaves her motherland and comes to India, along with her younger sister.

They have food together, following which they are served with a rose-scented drink; it intoxicates them and they fall asleep. On waking up, they find that they have been brought to the Indian side of the border, to a place which they later come to know as Budhwar Peth: a place in Pune, equivalent to the G. B. Road in Delhi.

Pune is one of those prominent places in Western India, where human trafficking ismost active. There are more than 5ooo sex workers in Budhwar Peth. Most of these residents had, at some point of time, been trafficked to this place, and many of them have accepted their job at the brothels as their fate. Unlike G. B. Road, in Budhwar Peth bodily transactions take place even in broad ay light. If one moves through this busy locality, one can almost always find women standing in rich make-ups and attractive dresses. Many of them had been brought here from the same place that Hasi and Khushi belonged to.

The police, however, are not at all surprised. “We have often raided the brothels at Budhwar Peth”, notes officer Bhanupratap Bargey. He also reports that almost 70% of the girls are trafficked from Bangladesh and returning them to their homeland after being rescued, becomes problematic for the police. This is because, it then becomes an inter-national affair, added to which are many legal hurdles, overcoming which is quite difficult for these girls. The rest of the girls are brought from the different district of West Bengal.

There is also the barrier of language that the girls have to face. They can scarcely speak in Marathi, English or Hindi. Their language is born out of their native soil in Bangladesh. As a result they are unable to communicate their stories of torture to the police. Sometimes however, things are made easy through the involvement of an interpreter.

But Hasi and Khushi could speak in rough Hindi, so they did not have to face too much problem in communicating themselves. Nevertheless, Hasi and khushi were not kept together. They were rescued from two different brothels. The police found Khushi from the brothel where they expected to find Hasi. Along with her, were about 5 more Bangladeshi girls. Hasi was rescued from another brothel 2 days after her sister was found.

Initially they were residing at a Government-run home in Pune, but then they went back to their family. The case is under trial; Raju has been arrested.

Why is Pune witnessing such an increase in this business?

Officer Bargey says, “Many IT companies and other organisations are budding here. As a result, young people often stay here, alone, for the sake of their jobs”. They are the target customers of this trade. Apart from this, there is the hunger for easy money and glamour. So there are many such people, who accept it when they get a taste of the flesh trade. “But the greatest problem is a lack of co-ordination at the national level”, says Bargey. So, this organised crime is proliferating. He also reported that 27 organisations of flesh trade have been closed down, their licence have been cancelled for being involved in trafficking. This is probably the first state to have acted with such measures.

Surrounded by the Sahyadris, Pune is dotted with several small, big, and medium-sized hotels. There are also massage parlours with people moving in and out constantly. The amount that they charge for 20minutes of massage is Rs. 5000. Hotel rooms are booked for the customers, where girls in miniskirts and strapless tops wait. The rule is that one has to take off his shirt before entering the room for it takes some time to do that, and there is no time to be wasted inside the room. The watch and phone should also be kept outside, for they may act as sources of distraction. On agreement of this rule, one can have his partner to satisfy him for 20minutes.

This high-profile flesh trade is rampant in Mumbai and Pune. Vibha was one such girl who worked at a massage parlour, and was able to come out of the hell by the help of her client. She was studying in class XI, when a relative of her introduced her to a person offering a good ‘job’. At that time her family was in need of money. So she accepted the job, and was taken to the parlour. Everyday clients came into the room and she had to satisfy them. 5000 rupees for 20minutes, 70% of which had to be given to the parlour owner. “there was a man who used to come almost everyday”, says Vibha. One day she told him everything. “I don’t know what he was thinking, but within two days, the police came with the NGO workers and brought me away.” Vibha has taken a paramedical course after that, and is presently working as a nurse.

Police raids are not uncommon in these hotels and parlours. They come and go empty-handed because the parlour authorities are informed beforehand. Hence, all the new girls are taken out of sight before the police reach the place. So naturally, the police are very worried about this issue. But side-by-side, they are also happy because the people of Pune are aware of the trafficking activities. They cooperate with the police and often inform them if they find anything unnatural going on, or if they see unknown faces in the locality. The police have been able to save quite a few girls because of public help. The anti-trafficking unit of Maharashtra and the police organise awareness programmes on a regular basis.

The scenario with respect to rehabilitation is also far better in Pune than it is in the rest of the country. Some of the organisations like the Rescue Foundation and the Vanchit Vikas run rehabilitation homes, where they keep the girls after rescuing them. The girls are taught to sew, make papads, soft toys, jewelleries and such other works here. The government homes are not far behind either. Many of the residents of these homes are happy, and through learning of different works, they become self-dependent.

The other side of the story…

I was waiting to cross the Ferguson College Road; packs of bikes continued to run on and obstruct my path as well as vision. Suddenly, my eyes fell upon one of the bikers: a young boy of about 19, clad in perfectly clean garments. He was wearing a white band around his wrist, and was fidgeting with it in such a manner that is bound to attract one’s attention. I felt that this might be a new way to impress girls.

My suspiscion was not entirely wrong. He was trying to impress girls, but not in the common way that men do. He was a male escort, or gigolo. This is also an active trade in Pune. The police claim that this is also associated with trafficking. Boys of 17-18years of age are trafficked and trained in the job, after which they are made to work. Statistics reports indicate that the demand for male escorts is also quite high, nor is Rs.1000-1500 for half-an-hour a bad payment.

I came to know one such story from the police. It is about a boy of 19 years, with a well-built physique. But he was poor. Through acquaintance, he came to know that he was eligible to get an offer in the film industry. He would be trained accordingly, and might even get a chance to work with Aamir and Shah Rukh. The offer was lucrative enough for him to set his foot into the trap. But he came to realise what his job was after some days: he was a male escort. However, in the end, he was able to come out of the trap and return to his previous life.

This is not a singular incident; such instances are common in the country. According to the police, the awareness that people have regarding the trafficking and trading of women is absent in the case of men. So rescuing them is much more difficult than rescuing the girls. I came to know that those men on bikes, wearing white bands are mostly gigolos. They prepare themselves in such a way that they become noticeable. The bands are a feature from which others can recognise them. The only diffrence with their female counterparts is that they work in the afternoon, when the man of the house is absent. There are women who also call for male escorts ‘only to enjoy’.