Girl trafficking cases up in assam

GUWAHATI, Sept 5 – Trafficking of young girls from Assam has gone up in recent months, with essential interventions from the State Government still not in place. As there has been little effort to implement the Supreme Court directive to constitute committees involving all stakeholders to curb trafficking, criminals are still able to target vulnerable girls in a number of areas.

In the last three months alone, there have been a number of rescues of young girls from Assam in different cities of the country; one organisation in Assam working with partner groups could rescue and repatriate 13 girls during this period. The number of missing girls from Guwahati has also gone up. Tragically, most of the girls trafficked are not adults as traffickers prefer them in the age group of 14 to 16 years, a fact established by the age of those who have been rescued.

Speaking to The Assam Tribune, Digambar Narzary, director of Nedan Foundation, a Kokrajhar-based NGO, underlined the urgent need to abide by the Supreme Court directive. “Forming committees with stakeholders from various levels is crucial to check the menace of trafficking in Assam, where many cases happen because there were no one to notice or report the activities,” Narzary remarked.

Narzary, whose organisation has been responsible for rescue and repatriation of young women from various parts of the country, said trafficking has connections with the process of migration and therefore an effective monitoring mechanism should be in place. The nodal officers in the districts should be fed with more information by local communities, information which should include names of destinations to which young women are migrating for work.

Data generated by Nedan Foundation indicate that eleven districts of Lower Assam have emerged as particularly vulnerable with more women being trafficked than before. Some of them have been located in areas such as Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore and New Delhi. Significantly, the eleven districts have witnessed conflict situations and poverty, reasons which have been found responsible for rise in trafficking. Recurring floods in the state have lead to displacement of a large population, and those involved in trafficking have also targeted girls from such groups.

Narzary and others well acquainted with the issue of trafficking of girls in Assam believe that monitoring should be strengthened in the trains moving out from the State, because in recent times those have been the preferred mode of transport for traffickers.

They further favour State-specific Anti-Trafficking Laws in Assam, which recognise the problems endemic to the region. However, despite repeated efforts, such legislation has still not been formed.

The need to have a rethink on the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act is another issue highlighted by groups studying trafficking of girls. Anurita Pathak Hazarika of North East Network (NEN) said, “The Act stigmatises woman and even the word immorality is debatable.” She added that in Assam post-conflict situations in some areas were also responsible for making young women more vulnerable to trafficking.