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Activists calls for multi-pronged effort to fight trafficking

Written by: Staff
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Panaji, Apr 25 (UNI) With India emerging as a prominent transit point for trafficking of women and children, there is an urgent need to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to combat the crime, which has assumed ''astounding proportions.'' Voicing this concern, activists, students, government officials, policemen and mediapersons who gathered here for UNIFEM - funded workshop also called for setting up of a forum to coordinate various activities that seek to battle trafficking.

There is an urgent need for co-ordination between the investigating authority, NGO's, counselors, psychologists, medico-legal experts, prosecutors and media to ensure that cases end in conviction against the perpetrators of the crime, they felt.

''Exploitation and abuse suffered by trafficked women constitute a severe violation of human rights and puts a question mark on the accountability of states as primary duty bearers, governments and global community. Despite increases in responses to trafficking over the past several years, this problem has not been tackled, due to lack of resources, weak protection mechanisms, limited understanding about vulnerable children and women at risk, ''Women's Human Rights and Human Security unit of UNIFEM chief Archana Tamang said.

Outlining various forms of trafficking, Dr Sunita Krishnan, of a Hyderabad-based NGO, stressed that trafficking did not mean that women and children were only sold abroad or were exploited by foreign ourists. ''It happens intra-country too. Pilgrim centres can be quite notorious in this regard.'' She said there are several rituals like yogini, matamma, tayama and others that dedicate young girls to commercial sexual exploitation.

Over two million women and children are trafficked every year in India, she said.

''Almost one-fourth of them are children. More and more male children are being trafficked and castrated. Plus, there has been a progressive decline on the age of the victims, even four-year-olds are available in the circuit,'' she said.

Rishikant of Shakti Vahini, an NGO, said trafficking primarily results from uneven development leading to large-scale migration and a widening gap between the rich and poor. ''Hunger deaths, suicide by farmers, large number of people living below the poverty line are the realities of life,'' he said.

He added that women from Nepal, Bangladesh, and the eastern state of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand are brought into the comparatively richer states of Punjab and Haryana and forced into marriage. ''On one hand we have to make the institutional machinery stronger and on the other hand urge the government to tackle uneven development and economic disparities,'' he said.

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