Kolkata, Dec 18: Rise in sexual exploitation is a mark of male dominance and female insecurity, says renowned American social activist Gloria Steinem.
While speaking at an open discussion on "How Women Confront the Demand for Human Trafficking: Insights into Slavery and Emancipation" at the Amercian Center here yesterday, Ms Steinem said it is the defective mindset of the people, both men and women.
''Women have come to know that they belong to their husbands and men have come to understand that the sign of masculinity is dominance over women,''she said. Citing examples of differnt cultures all over the world, she said how men are brought to be violent and aggressive to show their masculinity.
Meanwhile, Ruchira Gupta, Founder and President of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, said it is the social inequality of classes, castes and gender that has created this evil in the society.
''Men are introduced to eroticisation of sexual dominance from their childhood, how would they ever learn to respect women?'' Ms Steinem demanded and urged all other social activists and law enforcement personnel present on the occasion to help the women recover from their "labour" and punish and rehabilitate those who crave for sexual dominance and exploitation.
Ms Steinem also said that the government has a major role to play in decriminalising the victims and stressed on the need to penalise the perpetrators of hte crime.
''The government needs to look into the details of the various Acts and policies in human trafficking and women and child rights and ensure that the victims can be rescued and prevented from being harrassed or further abused,'' said Ms Steinem.
Citing the specific law on human trafficking Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, 1986, specifically states that any one who facilitates prostitution will be punished. Article 23 of the Constitution of India also states that prohibits traffic of human beings (in any form and for any exploitation) and forced labour.
However, specific action that can be taken against those who exploit women through ways such as prostitution or pornography have nort been defined, she said.
Ms Steinem gave special emphasis to the situation in India, since here prostitution is still legally accepted in certain areas. Ms Steinem, who is also the founder of many feminist and women's rights NGOs, said a complete change is needed in the attitude of the people and the government bodies towards the victims of sex-trafficking.
Ms Gupta spoke on the need to deter the growing demand in the world's third largest illegal trade - Human Trafficking. ''In countries like Sweden, this demand has been criminalised and we need to do the same in countries like Germany and India, where prostitution and other forms of women abuse is legally accepted in certain areas, so that the demand can be killed, yet the industry prevented from going underground.'' The world's largest illegal trade are Drugs and Arms Trafficking.
flesh trade comes third, according to a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) report.
''Women from different parts of Asia and Europe are brought into the US unsder false pretext, their passports taken and forced into prostitution,'' Ms Steinem said and added that this is "white slavery", a form of slavery far worse than what we have known slavery to be, since it violates absolutely everything that is humane.
Ms Gupta said this demand is increasing day by day, because the middlemen and the "customers" keep increasing. ''Unless we can find a way to deter these elements, human trafficking will remain a fast growing trade,'' she said.
Citing an NHRC report, Ms Gupta said it had been found that those men who visit brothels at night were the ones who abused their wives or children by day.
While speaking on legal steps taken to curb the demand, West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department Additional Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh said his department had taken a three-tier set of measures to contain the situation by sensitising police personnel, local and government bodies and NGOs to the problem, finding ways to rescue and rehabilitate the victims and conduct raids and special operations to nab the perpetrators.
Speaking on sexual freedom of women, Ms Steinem said women have long been man's possession, htrough her mind and body. ''The money she earns belongs to her husband, even her own body belongs to her husband. She is her husband's possession.''