Guwahati, Jan 11: An unprecedented number of women trafficking cases have been registered in the country during the past few years, especially North India, with a huge number of women from the Northeastern region being transported to various parts of the country.
To combat the increasing trend of women trafficking, mainly an offshoot of the adverse sex ratio in the country, the United Nations has launched a two-pronged initiative to control and reverse the trend by both short and long term measures.
According to the latest census report, presently in the entire North India, the average sex ratio is 860 girls per 1,000 males, resulting in an alarming decrease in the number of women, especially in the rural areas of the Hindi heartland.
The shocking Census report forced the UN to launch a global initiative to stop human trafficking through the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) as a short term measure.
Meanwhile, as a long term measure, the UN roped in its other arm - the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to spread awareness among North India about the virtues of having daughters at home.
UNFPA-India representatitve Nesim Tumkaya said, ''The underlying causes for the practise of sex-determination are many and often deep-rooted in our traditions. Efforts to counter them need the support of individuals, institutions, governance and civil society, all working at various levels with the common goal of achieving gender equality.
''Success in reducing and eventually eliminating the abhorrent practise of sex-selection will be a sure sign of improving gender equality as well as the social health of the country,'' he added.
Manager for the Centre for Media Studies Ashwini Sinha, working with the UNFPA, informed here that the sex ratio in Punjab was about 798 per 1,000 males.
Mr Sinha also came up with the shocking revelation that a rising trend was being noticed of three to four men marrying a single woman and forcing her to beget a son for them. ''Most of these girls are being transported from Assam where the ratio is far better and even better than the national average,'' Mr Sinha added.
These women are called "Paros" in North India and they are not even given the proper status of wife and often they are compelled to live in the fields.
He pointed out that according to the 1961 national census, 976 girls were born for every 1,000 boys in the 0-6 years age group. In 1991 the sex ratio fell to 945 and in 2001, it plummetted to 927. The reason behind the adverse sex ratio was the rampant illegal practice of sex-determination and selective elimination of the unborn girl child.
''Sex selection is not just about technology. At the heart of the matter is the low status of women in society and the deep prejudices they face throughout their lives. Evil practices, including bride-buying, trafficking, rape, abduction, sexual abuse and polyandry, are becoming prevalent in states, including Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan, which have a skewed sex ratio,'' Mr Sinha said.
In a novel approach to make people aware of the crisis, the United Nations Population Fund-India (UNFPA) has instituted the Arts for Social Change Awards: First National Painting Competition, 2008.
The message of the nationwide competition would be - ''Delighting in Daughters.'' The aim of the UNFPA Art for Social Change Awards, being organised by the CMS, a research and advocacy group with national presence, is to garner public opinion on the positive portrayal of daughters and women and to raise awareness, stimulate discussions and influence a positive attitude among upcoming artists that would culminate in fruitful action.
''Taking the message from students to art galleries and from there to individual homes is a challenge we are looking forward to,'' CMS Director P N Vasanti said.