BHUBANESWAR: The state government has decided to extend Integrated Anti-Human Trafficking Units (IAHTUs) to 25 more district police headquarters to effectively combat trafficking, kidnapping, forcible marriage, sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children in the state.
While the IAHTUs currently function from 12 police headquarters, including the Crime Branch, the finance department two days ago sanctioned to open such units in 25 other districts. The state government’s decision to set up IAHTUs across the state came close on the heels of a Supreme Court directive, asking all states to open at least one IAHTU in each district.
“The finance department has sanctioned extension of the units to 25 other districts. Each unit would be headed by an inspector and assisted by seven constables. The units will take preventive steps to check women and child trafficking and investigate such cases,” ADG (Crime Branch) B K Sharma told TOI.
Crime Branch is the nodal agency of Odisha police to supervise the functioning of the IAHTUs in the state. Sources said nearly 2,000 cases relating to women and child trafficking were registered at 12 IAHTUs in Odisha last year.
The home department has asked the units to identify vulnerable areas from where women are being trafficked and train young women from weak financial background, prone to trafficking, to make themselves economically sound. “The units will have regular interface with women and child development department and NGOs to find out the high-incidence districts to track the source, route and destination places of illegal trafficking of girls and women. Preventive measures will be taken to curb the menace,” Sharma said.
Alarmed at the growing incidence of trafficking in women and children in Odisha, the state government in December 2009 formulated a policy to address the issue. “The policy provides adequate steps for psychological support, economic empowerment and reintegration to ensure that the rescued victims of trafficking do not get drawn into the trade again due to non-availability of other options for livelihood,” said a police officer.
“Though the government established the units, child and women trafficking continues unabated. The government should appoint police officers to exclusively investigate such cases,” said Rutuparna Mohanty, a social activist. “Most women and children are trafficked to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Chhatisgarh and in some cases to Andhra Pradesh, where they are sexually exploited,” Mohanty said.