Friday, May 05, 2006

Beheading of Tripta
Accused must be booked for trafficking also
Ruchika M. Khanna
The brutal murder of 14-year-old Tripta (name changed) from Jharkhand, in a non- descript village of Jind, hit the national headlines recently. Her “owner” beheaded her when she refused to bow before his lustful desires.
Last year, the girl had been sold by her poverty-stricken mother in Ranchi, to Ajmer Singh of Dahola village in Jind for Rs 13,000. The latter had then claimed that he was ‘buying’ her as a bride for his brother. After having been kept captive in shanties in Noida and Delhi, she was brought to Dahola and kept locked in Ajmer’s farmhouse.
Braving threats and starvation, she spurned Ajmer’s advances, till one day this February, Ajmer decided it was enough and in a single stroke, beheaded the girl. He has been arrested and is presently under judicial custody.
Surprisingly, despite the national outrage and demands by various human rights groups and NGOs, he has been booked only on charges of murder and not for human trafficking.
This is not just the story of Tripta. The declining sex ratio in the states of Punjab and Haryana, has led to increased trafficking of girls from Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, Assam and West Bengal as “made-to-order-brides”, or for sexual exploitation to get a male child, before being deserted.
Sexual and economic exploitation (they are often not given enough money and food) of girls and boys being brought as domestic helps in affluent homes of Punjab and Haryana, could mean many more Triptas in the making. And not just in the two above mentioned states — trafficking of women, children and boys is an offence being committed all over the country.
In fact, after the trade in arms and drugs, human trafficking is the third largest organised crime in the world. It is estimated that over two million women and children are trafficked across the world each year. Of these, 25 per cent are children.
In 2002, the UN reported that seven lakh women and children were being trafficked in Asia each year. Of these, one lakh were in India. Human trafficking has been a part of our history. The socio-economic divide enshrined in our culture has made the deprived sections of society vulnerable to trafficking. However, over the last few years, the increased cases of human trafficking and the myriad forms it has taken, call for much attention.
Girls are being trafficked and pushed into prostitution in Delhi and Mumbai. Boys from the country are sent as camel jockeys (they are tied on the legs of the camel and the louder the child cries, the faster the camel runs) for camel races in West Asia or to serve paedophiles on prowl, at the exotic beaches of Goa and other tourist destinations.
Trafficked boys and girls are also used as drug peddlers or beggars or even as actors in the porn industry. Instances of children being used in pornographic movies, especially related to catasexuality (having sex with animals) and in gray films (sex with dead bodies), have also been reported.
“It’s a harsh reality that as a nation we have failed to protect the basic human rights of the most vulnerable sections in our society — women and children,” says Dr Sunitha Krishnan of Prajwala, an NGO involved in rescuing girls trafficked from Andhra Pradesh.
“India may be a booming economy, but failure of successive governments to secure the basic human rights of its women and children puts a big question mark on the holistic development of the country,” she said.
“India is slowly emerging as a major hub for trafficking. This organised trade operates across borders. Not just are the women and children being trafficked from the poor states to the affluent states within the country and abroad, but a large number of trafficking from neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bangladesh is being routed through India,” says Ms Archana Tamang of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
With the Central and state governments yet to formulate an action plan to deal with the problem, members of the media, NGOs, women’s groups, aided by government agencies, have now decided to act by building effective partnerships.
At a seminar organised by UNIFEM and Shakti Vahini (an NGO working against trafficking) at Goa very recently, members from these groups declared a “war” against trafficking and gender violence.
It has been decided to end the era of working in isolation, and bring about a multi-partner national coalition to monitor and highlight issues related to trafficking and violence with a gender sensitive and rights based perspective.
It remains to be seen to what extent this coalition will succeed in tackling the problem. What is important is that a beginning has finally been made to stir the consciousness of the nation against this crime, to sit up and take action.


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