Kalyan Barooah IN THE ASSAM TRIBUNE
NEW DELHI, Sept 30 – Sensational reports of ‘40,000 girls’ being ‘hired’ from North Eastern Region by escort agencies for the Commonwealth Games has sent NGOs and Central agencies into a tizzy. While the media including international agencies like BBC have gone to town with reports of 40,000 girls being trafficked to Delhi for escort services by organised cartels, the real story seems quite different.“Thousands of women from India’s North-east have been hired by escort agencies for the Commonwealth Games. Nearly 40,000 women from seven North Eastern States had been hired with promises of ‘lucrative pay’, said a BBC report from Kolkata, quoting Impulse NGO Network.
Says Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, an NGO working on human trafficking, volunteers drawn from NGOs have been deployed in various train stations in Delhi round-the-clock since last two months, monitoring trains particularly originating from North-east. A similar watch is being kept at Delhi airport by government agencies. In the last two months, 54 human trafficking cases were detected, out of which only one case was from Assam and that too turned out to be a case of forced marriage, said Rishi Kant.
Most of the trafficking cases detected during the run up to the Games were from Jharkhand, West and North Bengal, Rishi Kant, whose organisation was among the first to expose the human trafficking racket involving girls lured from Assam to Haryana, said. Divulging that the government agencies and NGOs, working in the field have stepped up vigil after reports of the possibility of escort agencies entering the scene to take advantage of the demand during the Commonwealth Games, Rishi Kant said they have been monitoring advertisements in newspapers and internet to keep track.
A series of meetings were held between officials of Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, Home Ministry and NGOs to work out a coordination mechanism. “It was after this that the NGOs were engaged to monitor the train stations. Since the last two months, we are watching the various train stations 24X7,” he said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, as added measures keeping in mind the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, on the recommendation of Ministry of Women and Child Development, issued an advisory to the Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries of all the States to take proper action to combat trafficking. Most of the advertisements by the escort agencies are for foreign girls, mostly Russians, and those belonging to erstwhile Soviet block countries, but there were no specific advertisements for girls from North-east India, the Shakti Vahini worker said.
Taken aback by reports of 40,000 girls being hired by escort agencies, Rishi Kant argued that had this been the case, the various NGOs and government agencies working in the field should have detected at least one case. Nevertheless, Shakti Vahini has written a letter to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to probe the allegations reported by media. Describing chairperson of Impulse NGO Network, a rights group that also rescues trafficked women, Hasina Kharbih’s reported statement, as highly irresponsible, Rishi Kant said that if she has any information, she should share the information with the concerned State Governments.
The revised statement issued by the Home Ministry also makes it necessary to inform authorities about such incidents, he added.
- Sex trafficking fears over Games (bbc.co.uk)
- Researchers Document Forced, Child Labor in Commonwealth Games Construction (humantrafficking.change.org)
- COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Delhi Hides Workers and Beggars as Games Near (nytimes.com)
- Commonwealth Games 2010: volunteers fail to report for duty in Delhi (telegraph.co.uk)