In­dian traf­fick­ers find new ways to smug­gle girls

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Young girls from In­dia’s re­mote north­east are lured with prom­ises of good jobs and traf­ficked to South­east Asia and the Mid­dle East on Nepalese pass­ports, cam­paign­ers say, amid fears traf­fick­ers are find­ing new ways to es­cape checks. “Over a 100 girls from the north­east and north­ern part of West Ben­gal state were traf­ficked in the last two years, nearly 50 to 60 per­cent of them on pass­ports is­sued by Nepal,” said Hasina Kharb­hih, founder of anti-traf­fick­ing char­ity Im­pulse NGO Net­work.

“Ob­tain­ing visas for Mid­dle East coun­tries is dif­fi­cult on In­dian pass­ports, so re­cruit­ment agents are get­ting them from Nepal. They are do­ing the pa­per­work for both pass­ports and visas in Kath­mandu,” Kharb­hih told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion by phone from Shil­long, cap­i­tal of north­east­ern state of Megha­laya. Traf­fick­ers have been try­ing new ways, in­clud­ing trans­port­ing women on tourist visas to Gulf na­tions to get round In­dian em­i­gra­tion checks. They are also try­ing routes through neigh­bor­ing coun­tries in­clud­ing Nepal where col­lu­sion of of­fi­cials with traf­fick­ers is sus­pected.

Cam­paign­ers said traf­fick­ers are fly­ing the girls from Kath­mandu air­port and in some cases criss­cross­ing through In­dian air­ports with them be­fore fly­ing to a Gulf na­tion such as Kuwait or Oman. For des­ti­na­tions in South­east Asia, such as Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia, the girls are traf­ficked through Myan­mar. In­dia’s un­der­de­vel­oped north­east, a re­gion marred by eth­nic vi­o­lence and armed con­flicts, is bor­dered by China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myan­mar and Bhutan and is a hub for sex traf­fick­ers to source girls for broth­els in Mum­bai and Delhi. But cases of traf­fick­ing for la­bor to other coun­tries are be­ing in­creas­ingly re­ported.

Alerts and checks

Re­cruit­ment agents ped­dle dreams to col­lege grad­u­ates of well-paid jobs in ho­tels and spas in Gulf na­tions or the frozen fish pack­ag­ing in­dus­try of Malaysia. They tar­get il­lit­er­ate girls for jobs as do­mes­tic helps. “The agen­cies are fo­cus­ing on th­ese ar­eas be­cause they find many girls are happy to go to Mid­dle East coun­tries as they find they can earn more there,” Kharb­hih said. But when they ar­rive they of­ten find them­selves trapped in bonded labour, hav­ing to pay off debts to traf­fick­ers. “Their pass­ports are taken by the em­ploy­ers. They are not paid, as promised,” she said. The po­lice in Sikkim - con­sid­ered pros­per­ous among north­east­ern states - is cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case of a 25-year-old who flew to Kuwait to work as a house­maid in 2010 and went miss­ing af­ter that. Her fam­ily lodged a com­plaint with po­lice last year. “She had flown on a pass­port is­sued by Nepal. This is our first such case,” an of­fi­cial with the Sikkim anti-hu­man traf­fick­ing unit said.

A sim­i­lar case three years ago put cam­paign­ers on the Nepal pass­port trail when a woman traf­ficked to Le­banon com­mit­ted sui­cide. “We found dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion that she was among a bunch of oth­ers who was taken there on Nepalese pass­ports for house­maid jobs. That one case was our en­try point into the is­sue,” Kharb­hih said. Cases have been trick­ling in since then - a re­cent one of a girl taken through Chen­nai on her In­dian pass­port to Malaysia to work in a beauty par­lor. Her pass­port was seized by her em­ployer and she couldn’t re­new her visa when it ex­pired.

“It was a com­plex case as she was legally de­tained for over­stay­ing in Malaysia. It was very dif­fi­cult to get her back,” Kharb­hih said. Im­pulse NGO has po­lice from In­dia’s north­east­ern states and cam­paign­ers logged on to its traf­fick­ing alert soft­ware. It is now train­ing bor­der forces on how to send alerts on the sys­tem in an ef­fort to curb the num­bers of traf­ficked girls and women. “Th­ese girls want a good job, and some mort­gage as­sets and take loans with the hope of re­turn­ing home with money. In some cases, they do send money back home, but th­ese happy sto­ries are short­lived,” Kharb­hih said. — Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.