Rourkela : The return of two married women, aged 24 and 36, from Saudi Arabia has brought women’s trafficking in the district to the fore again.
“Our study suggests that the situation is not encouraging,” said Rajendra Behera, chief co-ordinator of Pragati, which works for the rescue of trafficked women.
“We did an exhaustive study in 11 blocks out of 17 in the district and concluded that more than 13,000 women from different age groups are missing,” he said. Between 43,000 and 44,000 women across age groups have been trafficked between 2002-14 from the district, the study showed.
The women returned home on Sunday and narrated their ordeal. The Tarkera residents claimed that a neighbour and his family members had sold them off in Saudi Arabia for a hefty sum. Their employers kept them in confinement and physically and mentally abused them, the duo alleged.
Abul Kalam Azad of Childline at Bisra had rescued a 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl two years ago and returned her to her parents. He said: “These women are sexually abused both by the middleman and the employer.”
He said there was also an increase in the number of unwed mothers. Citing statistics, he said: “In the past six months, I have received 63 unwanted children either at my doorstep or from different places.” Most of them were found in remote jungle or far-off areas, said Azad. He found that most of these children belonged to those women who had been trafficked.
“The maximum trafficking takes place between the 14-18 and 19-25 age groups at 41 and 38 per cent respectively,” said Behera. His study also revealed that apart from poverty and the search for greener pastures, the glamour of bigger cities also lured many women into the traffickers’ traps.
Sundargarh district superintendent of police Pinaki Mishra agreed with Behera.
Most of the traffickers are also known to the women. They are either relatives or neighbours. “And when the girl does not return for a long time, the relative goes missing,” said Behera.
Mishra admitted that despite human trafficking being a major problem in the district, inadequate manpower forced police actions to go for preventive drive than going on the offensive. “We have written to the government for help with more manpower,” he said.
He also plans awareness drives, and creating a data bank of the blocks affected