With human trafficking on the rise in India, some radio hosts are using their programs to raise awareness and help listeners spot traffickers.
In the Indian capital, New Delhi, radio host Ginnie Mahajan will talk trafficking on her award-winning show “Suno Na Dilli” (Listen Delhi) this weekend.
“We want Delhi to know that many of these girls working in their houses are reported missing by their parents,” she said.
“We need Delhi to know that girls are being forced into this trade.”
Human trafficking in India rose by almost 20 percent in 2016 against the previous year, Indian government data shows. More than 60 percent of the 23,117 victims rescued were children
Forty-five percent of victims were trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and 33 percent for sexual exploitation, according to the data.
“If we only checked details of the women around whom our lives and kitchens revolve we could actually stop the crime,” Mahajan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Delhi.
Radio has become an important tool in spreading awareness, campaigners say.
“It lets people know what is out there, the sheer horror of such a crime and how close to home it is,” said Adrian Phillips of anti-trafficking charity Justice and Care, which collaborates with radio stations.
While Mahajan’s show reaches urban Indians in the capital, a community radio station in the southern state of Karnataka recently went on air with a special program devoted to human trafficking.
Keerti S. Chougala, a host on Nammura Banuli (Our Village Radio), said she was aiming to educate her nearly 400,000 listeners on the impact of the crime, as well as how to spot traffickers and report cases.
“We wanted to tell women and girls in the region about this in a simple way and raise awareness,” Chougala said.
Run by charity Women’s Welfare Society, the show is broadcast across more than 400 villages in Belgavi district.
In November, a young trafficking survivor shared her story on Akaashwani radio in the eastern city of Kolkata.
An aspiring singer from Bangladesh, she told listeners how traffickers had promised her “starlit dreams” of becoming a singing sensation in India, and then trafficked her to a brothel.
Phillips said radio is ideal for sharing trafficking stories, because survivors can speak about their experiences anonymously, “without fearing repercussions from criminal networks.”
Radio also allows listeners to connect intimately with survivors, he added.
“It’s a real person speaking up and more importantly speaking out,” Phillips said.