Assam wakes up to human trafficking alarm bells

Assam wakes up to human trafficking alarm bells
Samudra Gupta Kashyap
Posted online: Thursday, May 25, 2006 at 0000 hrs Guwahati,

May 24:The Assam Police have finally woken up to the problem of trafficking in girls and young women. The past few years have seen quite a substantial rise in the incidents of young women gone missing. The force has taken up a series of programmes to sensitise and update its officers to tackle this emerging menace in the region.

Leading the initiative is Assam Police director-general D N Dutta. He called upon NGOs and the media today to provide more support to the police and also assured reciprocal response from the force. ‘‘NGOs active in the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking are seeking more cooperation from the law-enforcing agencies, including the police towards a more proactive role in assisting them in conducting raids based on specific information,’’ Dutta said at a day-long interactive workshop intended at sensitising police officers of various ranks to the problem.

G Bhuyan, IGP (CID), said over 100 girls, mostly Adivasis, had gone missing from 25 relief camps in Kokrajhar in two years. More than 300 girls and young women from Assam alone had been rescued in the recent past from brothels, red-light areas and traffickers.

Hasina Kharbih, president of the Shillong-based Impulse NGO Network, said this was just the tip of the iceberg. Kharbih, whose NGO has been playing a leading role in rescue of girls from the Northeast, said that unlike in other areas where poverty and conflict had been some of the basic reasons pushing women into the hands of traffickers, a section of call centre recruiters could actually be part of rackets run by syndicates involved in human trafficking in the region.’’

She also questioned why the ‘Look East’ policy of the Government did not consider looking at human trafficking as a major problem area of the future. ‘‘Why don’t tourism policies of different state governments of the Northeast integrate prevention of trafficking so that the region does not end up becoming another Thailand?’’ she asked, calling for a debate on the non-inclusion of this issue in the policy. She said educated girls from Assam and the Northeast who go out to take up jobs in call centres or join modelling were vulnerable to traps laid by human traffickers.

‘‘There is an urgent need to monitor and check recruitment agencies who come from outside the region to recruit girl candidates for different kinds of jobs in the services industry,’’ Kharbih said.

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