Concerns Over Trafficking of Women Following Nepal Earthquake

New Delhi: To curb the menace of human trafficking and prostitution, the Delhi Commission for Women has now decided to launch a Trafficking Committee that would work in close coordination with the Centre, the Delhi government and NGOs to achieve its objectives.

Disclosing this, the new DCW chairperson, Swati Maliwal said on Tuesday that prostitution and human trafficking are a blot on society and need to be eradicated. Calling for a strong response from the state, she said she was committed to changing the lives of women who are trafficked and pushed into prostitution.

She said there was a need to improve the living conditions of women in rescue homes and launch a drive against placement agencies involved in pushing women into the sex trade.

Even when her appointment as Delhi Commission for Women chairperson had not been formalised by the Lieutenant-Governor, Maliwal, in one of her first major public appearances, had visited the red-light area of G.B. Road to learn about the condition of the women there.

Maliwal went to the area without giving prior notice to NGOs working in the field. Some of them then rushed there and provided her with a detailed order of the Delhi High Court, which in a November 2013 case between NGO Shakti Vahini and the Delhi government, had directed the latter to abide by its submission of following the “Minimum Standard of Care” guidelines issued by the State of Andhra Pradesh within eight weeks.

The Delhi government had then in fact submitted before the court that it wants to add some additional features to the same. It had also assured the High Court that membership of  State Advisory Committee would be pruned or restricted within a period of four weeks and its meetings would be regularly convened every month to address the issue at hand. But the implementation of plans on the ground has remained far from satisfactory over a year and a half since then.

Maliwal made her observations at the National Consultation on Human Trafficking on the Indo-Nepal Border, organised by PAIRVI, in which about 50 NGOs working on human trafficking in India and Nepal participated and expressed keen concern over the rising trend of human trafficking along the border, particularly after the devastating earthquake that rocked Nepal earlier this year.

The NGOs urged the governments of India and Nepal to enact stronger laws to curb human trafficking and to implement the existing laws effectively to tackle the growing problem.

Ajay Jha from PAIRVI cautioned that trafficking has risen sharply after the earthquake in Nepal with girls and women being lured into the sex trade by gangs on the false promise of providing jobs or through the enticement of marriage. The girls are being sold in India and are also being sent abroad to Pakistan, West Asia and China, he said.

Alluding to the increase in trafficking on the Indo-Nepal border, Ashok Singh, Deputy Inspector General of the Seema Suraksha Bal, which guards the frontier, said over 100 victims of trafficking have been rescued in 2015 so far, which points to a marked increase in trafficking at the border in comparison to the previous three years. He attributed the rise to the devastation caused by the Nepal quake, which rendered thousands homeless and jobless.

Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini said despite the Ministry of Home Affairs taking strong measures in the wake of the earthquake, India needs to strengthen its institutional response mechanism to curb human trafficking. Earlier, talking to this writer, he had pointed out how following all major natural calamities, human trafficking witnesses a spike.

Kant is now worried that the floods in West Bengal and the North East might also trigger a similar spurt in trafficking, as was witnessed following the 2013 floods in the region.

Featured image credit: Benzene Aseel, CC 2.o