//'India is transit hub for human trafficking'

'India is transit hub for human trafficking'

New Delhi, June 22, 2006, (IANS)

 India has become a key destination and transit hub for human trafficking from East Europe and other places, says a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sponsored study released here Thursday.

Delhi and Mumbai are the favourite destinations for human trafficking from various regions, says the study conducted by NGO Shakti Vahini as part of its project on prevention of Trafficking, HIV and AIDS (TAHA) in women and girls. The NGO works under UNDP India.

'Trafficking occurs from Egypt, Brazil, Azerbaijan, Russia and several other Eastern European countries,' said the TAHA study. Lots of women are brought from these places to India from where they are trafficked to other places, it said.

Shakti Vahini director Ravi Kant painted a gloomy picture of human trafficking in the country.

The study said 72 percent of human trafficking is for commercial sex, 80.26 percent of trafficking of women takes place in Bihar – most of it happening during migration for labour – and 12.36 percent of the total trafficking is due to family traditions.

'Madhya Pradesh is prominent among the states where women get into sex work and thus get trafficked because of family traditions. Ninety five percent of the women in Madhya Pradesh in commercial sex are due to family traditions. So are 51.79 percent in Bihar,' said the study.

'Although Mumbai and Goa are the favourite destinations for paedophilic activity, where children are trafficked, tourist destinations in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Orissa are also not far behind,' Kant said.

Out of the 593 districts in India, 378 or 62.5 percent are affected by human trafficking. The study found that domestic violence, illiteracy, unemployment, poverty, unsafe migration and child marriage are the major reasons for the increasing rate of illegal human trafficking.

While 43 percent of the total women trafficked are minors, 44 percent of the women are into flesh trade due to poverty.

Interestingly, in Kerala, which claims the highest rate of literacy and has a matriarchal tradition, violence is often used to push women into flesh trade.

Of the total women who are into sex work in the country, 60 percent are from the lower and backward class, which indicates the pathetic living condition of the communities. In Madhya Pradesh, 96.7 percent of the women sex workers are from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

Although the rate of increase in human trafficking is alarming, Kant said only 7.7 percent of police officials in the country consider it an issue of high priority. 'More than half (54.8 percent) of police officials think that it is not an issue at all,' he said.

While Kant pointed out that the country did not have any effective legislation in place on human trafficking, Manjula Krishnan, economic advisor to the women and child development ministry, said the government would focus on prevention, rescue, rehabilitation and sensitisation to fight the menace.

Sensing the seriousness of the issue, Femina Miss India World Natasha Suri and Femina Miss India Earth Amruta Patki, who attended the function, said they would make efforts to create awareness about the issue.

'I can represent the youth,' Suri said.

TAHA has initiated efforts with local communities in 300 districts across 11 states to create awareness among the people that trafficking is closely linked to the spread of HIV and AIDS.

© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service