Child trafficking rampant in West Bengal

 A 13-year-old girl trafficked from Kakdwip area in the State’s South 24 Parganas district was allegedly raped by a 51-year-old man for over a month before she was rescued by a team of police and activists of non-government organisations earlier this week.

“She is so young and innocent that she does not know what the man did to her. She told me that the person who brought her to city had threatened to kill her family members and friends if she refused to oblige,” Pallavi Ghosh, research officer of Shakti Vahini, a NGO that helped in the rescue told The Hindu over phone from New Delhi.

Though the rescue of young girls from alleged traffickers who sell them in various areas of north India is not unusual, the fact that a 13-year-old, a student of Class VI, has been trafficked and sexually harassed is not frequent, Ms. Ghosh said.

The girl, who was rescued from a Jahangirpuri area of Delhi, believes that she was under influence of some black magic which the man had performed on her. The girl’s father, a footwear vendor, has been granted her custody.

Commenting on the trafficking of children from West Bengal, Rishi Kant, activist with Shakti Vahini, said at least 125 children from the State, most of them girls, have been rescued by the NGO in joint operations with the police since April 2012.

“About 80 per cent of the children rescued are girls being trafficked and sold in various parts of Delhi and adjoining States. We have also come across girls being trafficked for marriages in States such as Haryana and Rajasthan,” Mr. Kant said.

Representatives of NGOs admit that majority of cases of trafficking of girls occur from West Bengal — the vulnerable areas being districts such as Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Malda in the north along with North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas in the south of the State.

The latest statistics from National Crime Records Bureau (NRCB) released this year confirms this observation.

While 809 cases of ‘Procuration of Minor Girls’ charged under section 366 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were reported from the country, about 45.6 per cent cases were registered in West Bengal alone. Similarly, the State recorded the highest number of about 51.9 per cent of cases of ‘selling girls for prostitution’ under article 372 of the IPC.

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