Deccan Chronicle

Rise in women traffickin­g, officials apathy criticised

Domestic workers’ union demands action against trafficker­s

- GEETA VALABOJU I DC HYDERABAD, AUG. 1

On the one side is an alarming rise in the number of women who are being lured into traffickin­g, under various pretexts. On the more disgusting side is the apathy of authoritie­s, who, oblivious of the fear-psychosis that haunts women, are yet to take action.

In fact, in some cases, law-enforcing authoritie­s do not even entertain or respond to SOS from women in distress.

Narrating her harrowing experience, Kalpana (name changed), a homemaker from East Godavari, said “I approached an NGO official seeking help to trace and rescue my daughter, who has been missing for some months. Upon undertakin­g the request, when we approached the police, they were bafflingly dismissive. ‘She might have gone with her boyfriend. She will be back. You go home and relax’, was the official’s response,” she said.

In another incident, a woman, who had previously been rescued and placed in a rescue home, said on the condition of anonymity, “Drawn to acting, I was obsessed with making a career in films, which brought me to the city. I was encouraged to approach an agency that promised accommodat­ion and further my career prospects. Upon arriving in the city, I found myself trapped in a nightmaris­h situation. I was coerced into a sexual racket. After enduring a long struggle, I was eventually reunited with my family. During those horrifying days, I came across many women who, like me, were also trapped by agencies in the name of providing employment.”

To our shock, we discovered that eight more

women, including were missing.

According to Pothumidi Sesha Ratnam, a woman activist, there are around 22,500 women who are missing in Andhra Pradesh and 35,000 in Telangana as per a 2021 survey. The figure may have gone up in the last couple of years.

She said that common baits are career opportunit­ies, quality education or a better lifestyle.

“On their part, when approached for help, the police simply say that the young girls may have eloped with their boyfriends. This is so heartwrenc­hing for the parents”, Sesha Ratnam said.

girls,

There is an agency that is into traffickin­g women and children. They trap such vulnerable victims in villages and send them to Hyderabad or Chennai and push them into flesh trade, she said.

Sesha Ratna added that these nefarious elements enjoy the patronage of some influentia­l people, which is why the cases are hushed up and complaints are not acted upon.

Sister Lessy Joseph, from the Telangana Domestic Workers Union, said that girls and women from West and East Godavari districts are particular­ly vulnerable to traffickin­g and forced into exploitati­ve activities. They are subject

to brutal sexual assaults. The lack of police support leaves these innocent individual­s in misery. This traffickin­g is rampant in rural areas, as it is easy to lure those from impoverish­ed families, she said.

“Protecting vulnerable children and women from traffickin­g is also the state’s responsibi­lity. The authoritie­s should identify those involved in this heinous crime and give them stringent punishment. An effective preventive measure is that police must target agencies that are into traffickin­g. Law enforcing agencies should develop a resolute will to put an end to this menace,” she said.

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