Human Trafficking in South Asia… Fight Back!

Posted on January 17, 2010 in GlobeScope, Society

Sivapathan Silojah:

Human trafficking is a modern phenomenon propelled in the 1990s. People who are seeking for opportunities to improve the quality of their lives, poor people and war victims have been affected by trafficking- a booming business involving coercion, abduction, fraud, deception and abuse of power. Taking advantage of transparent borders, political and economic upheaval, and mass migrations of people; traffickers have preyed on vulnerable people.

South Asian countries are developing nations which have been affected by over population, unemployment issues and poverty. When people are left behind in the economic race that their counterparts are scoring in, the unbearable pool of poverty forces them to look to promises of bright future shown by traffickers, to lure them to different states or countries. After landing in totally new places, these people are sold as slaves or prostitutes. Some are married to people much older than their own age.

In South Asia, sex trafficking is a tragedy that affects young women and children who are cheated or sold into a life of sexual slavery. The victims of human trafficking from impoverished areas have been smuggled or lured to wealthy, industrialized countries where they are exploited for high profits. It is only the traffickers who gain in this business.

Women from South Asia migrate to Middle East countries to earn money and support their families. With a belief of saving money to ease their families’ situation, women accept the work offers that are given by soft-spoken traffickers and leave their places. After crossing the border, they are refused their passports; what follows ranges from rapes to forced marriages to prostitution.

These tragic incidences are occurring in south Asian countries on a disturbing scale. Young girls from villages are trafficked and sold into brothels in towns. From neighboring countries, human beings are sold as commodities.

Following is the bitter story of a young girl from Nepal.

Seema had left the poverty of her home village to work in Kathmandu. She was barely twelve when a smooth-talking flesh trader lured her to Bombay with false promises of a better job. She hoped to become a film star. Instead, she was sold into a brothel.

At first she resisted; screaming, crying and fighting off prospective customers, but the mistress who ran the brothel would have none of it. She was gang raped and the pain was so intense that Seema lost consciousness and had to be hospitalized for a week. After that it was back to the brothel where the other child prostitutes told her she could not win this battle.

But Seema’s spirit was not broken. Nine months later she escaped from the brothel and boarded a train, hoping to eventually get back home. A soft-spoken lady promised help. She lured the young girl to Calcutta and sold her. Seema had only escaped from one brothel to get trapped into another.

Now Seema appears resigned to her fate. She hits the streets of central Calcutta as soon as it gets dark and stands near a lamp-post soliciting customers. Her parents in Nepal have no idea where their daughter is. She does not have the courage to tell them, and anyway, they probably think she is dead.

Social and cultural traditions including early or forced marriage, discriminatory legal practices, and lack of access to educational opportunities contribute to the conditions of vulnerability for women and children. Globalization has also ushered in an increase in the trafficking of human flesh through trade businesses and world travel.

Governments, NGOs and international organizations must consider this issue as a terrifying illegal activity against human rights. They should work hard to eliminate trafficking in persons and rehabilitate the victims by giving them requisite medical treatments and mental support to live a new life.

Sivapathan Silojah is a Bangladesh based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz.