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Kamala Sarup: Trafficking Of Women

Trafficking Of Women


By Kamala Sarup

Many institutions and researchers have conducted studies on the prevention of trafficking but we lack here is a coherent program of rescue and reintegration which has been usually dealt as a subsidiary part. Everyone needs to contribute to this effort.

The act of selling women to the sex market of India from the villages of Nepal, and making them sex slaves is considered as the most serious, complex and major violence against women. Along with the problem of girl trafficking Nepal also has to face the problem of rehalibilitating the girls who were sold to Indian brothels.

Trafficking of women is a major problem in Nepal. Thousands of girls are trafficked to urban areas of Nepal where they are sold to brothels and find themselves in exploitative situations, including forced prostitution. The majority of Nepali women working in the sex industry in India are thought to be there voluntarily often in a form of debt-bondage until the costs of arranging their work and travel are repaid.

Trafficking in women beings is an abhorrent and increasingly worrying phenomenon. It has extensive implications on the social, economic and organisational fabric of our societies. The underlying root causes of trafficking include poverty, unemployment and lack of education and access to resources. Clearly, if on the one side, people are ready to take the risk of falling into the hands of traffickers in order to improve their living opportunities, on the other side, there is a worrying trend as well as exploiting women and children in prostitution and pornography. In particular women are in a position of vulnerability to become victims of trafficking due to the feminisation of poverty, gender discrimination, lack of educational and professional opportunities in their countries of origin.

Despite the continuing difficulties in collecting statistical data in this area, most actors involved in combating trafficking in human beings agree that it is a growing phenomenon. Law enforcement experience shows that, although there is small scale traffic involving few individuals, there are, more importantly, large enterprises and international networks creating a sophisticated and well organised "industry" with political support and economic resources in countries of origin, transit and destination. Cases of corruption of officials have also been reported. There seems also to be links with other forms of criminality. Trafficking in women is becoming a major source of income for some organised crime groups.

Traffickers of women and children use a variety of methods to move their victims. They sometimes operate through nominally reputable employment agencies, travel agencies, entertainment companies or marriage agencies. Traffickers, however, also use fraudulent documents to obtain genuine travel documents or use altered or counterfeit papers. Looking more specifically at trafficking in women, the recruitment of the victims takes various forms. Frequently the trafficked women are threatened with violence, beaten up and raped.

In some cases women are physically restrained to prevent them from leaving. Traffickers also threaten to inform the family of the women that they are working abroad as prostitutes. These women also feel trapped because of their situation as illegal immigrants. Finally, the influence over the victims is even stronger when the criminal organisations control the whole chain from recruitment, through transportation to the concrete sexual exploitation. Trafficking of young girls, primarily for prostitution, is flourishing in Nepal due to lack of enforcement mechanism of the existing anti-trafficking laws. Those who are affected by this situation often can not seek protection from the law simply because they do not know that the laws exist. In rare cases when they do know about the laws they prefer not to seek legal help because the procedures are often expensive and complicated. Sometimes protection is provided to the traffickers by politicians and powerful people. Open borders and poverty are the main reasons for trafficking.

Women trafficking have not become a national issue in Nepal. The exact number of Nepali sex workers operating in India is not known, both Indian and Nepali governments fail to determine the number and are reluctant to discuss the issue. It is also a known fact that some of the communication does not feel negatively as far as women trafficking are concerned. In addition to this some people are faced with such financial difficulties that selling of a daughter is considered normal. The check posts along the open border between India and Nepal seem to have very little information about girl trafficking.

It is extremely important to fight this abominable practice. But while trying to stop this we should also work to rehabilitate trafficked women and provide them with proper employment opportunities. Everyone who is concerned with the issue of trafficking feels that the most urgent task is to change the attitude of people. It is very sad that while on the one hand families play a very active role in sending their daughters to the brothels they do not accept the girls back when they return home.

This hypocritical attitude should change. Another important work which needs to be done is to conduct awareness raising programs for young vulnerable girls who are likely to be trafficked. They should be given a realistic picture of what awaits them when they move to the city or cross the border in search of a better future. It is at this juncture that returnees can be a big help.

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(Kamala Sarup is editor of http://peacejournalism.com/ )

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