'6.8 mn women victims of human trafficking'

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{image-human+trafficking-new_01052008.jpg www.oneindia.com}Kolkata, May 01: In all 6.8 million women become victims of cross-border human trafficking every year, 60 per cent of whom are adolescent girls in the age group of 12 to 16 years. Speaking at the launch of an anti-trafficking information campaign here today, Chief of Consular Section, US Consul in Kolkata, Deborah Miller said, ''Every year, approximately 10,000-15,000 women from Bangladesh and 5,000-7,000 women from Nepal are brought to India and sold into servitude and slavery.'' She said in order to combat this social scourge, the Consular Section had been distributing brochures to visa applicants, containing information on the nature of the problem, including contact details for victim assistance programmes in the US and India.

Emmy Award winning journalist and filmmaker Ruchira Gupta, also the Director of an NGO 'Apne Aap Women Worldwide', said, ''Mumbai, and not Bangkok, has earned the notorious distinction of housing Asia's largest sex industry centre. There are approximately 15 million prostitutes in India. What is more alarming is that the numbers of those trafficked is going up and the ages are coming down.'' She pointed out that majority of girls and women ended being HIV+ or having AIDS as they were mostly in 'slave-like' situations and could not negotiate unprotected sex with their ''clients''.

''This in turn compounds the AIDS epidemic as men go back with the dreaded disease and pass it on to their wives which finally results in a huge health burden on the state exchequer,'' Ms Gupta added.

She also revealed that 60 per cent of those constituting the ''demand side'' of prostitution were married men in the age group of 30-45 years, who were living with their families.

Similarly, 73 per cent of the traffickers, comprising recruiters, transporters, agents and the like, were educated and from the higher strata of society, she informed.

Ms Gupta said her NGO had been working to reduce human trafficking by setting up easily accessible community centres in red-light areas that provided legal protection, education and income-generation programmes to more than 5,000 prostituted women and children directly in Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

''Apne Aap also trains police officials in trafficking policies through its nomination to the Steering Committee of the Planning Commission, Working Group of Ministry of Women and Child and the Task Force of the National Human Rights Commission,'' she added.

UNI

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