West Bengal shares porous, international borders with Bangladesh and Nepal, and is well-connected with the rest of the domestic states. The state also shares a very vulnerable waterbody across it. This entire gamut of understanding is aimed to highlight the biggest problem that women face across this region — human trafficking. Considering the geopolitical scenario of the state, I have always felt that health, education, social security and empowerment are the needs of the hour for every woman in this state.
If you take a closer look at the social evil of human trafficking in West Bengal, the people trafficked are mostly women. These women are later either sold off or loaned to several sex rackets that encompass the highest to lowest strata of the society, and this industry is evolving every day. Taking a look at the human trafficking victims, we have found out that trafficking is not always forceful and unwilling in nature. Several villages across West Bengal have broker rackets who offer financial aid to extremely financially backward families and purchase kids and sell them off to the sex market.
Diverge a little from the sex trade and we can see a trafficked person is like a non-registered content that can be used as a social weapon, to create any kind of disaster. When I say or point out something like that, think of the very small insurgency units that operate as sleeper cells, drug peddlers, arms carriers, and contract killers who will obviously be much helped if they can purchase these ‘no-name’ people and utilise them to fulfil any wrong aspirations and later disown them, even if these people get caught. Since sex racket is the most visible format of this barbaric industry, we often feel very disturbed with its ongoing volume.
In this context, my proposal is we should aim to build a specialized squad to counter human trafficking. The squads will not be restricted to operate within a stipulated territorial space. They shall work not just to bust and nullify the sex trafficking, but also, will keep a close monitoring on any and every new development related to this crime. Let us not confine our understanding simply to girl child, but must realise that a boy child can also be transformed into a sex worker or be made a part of this vicious cycle.
As I have earlier spoken about the few features of subsidiary industries of human trafficking, I have intentionally skipped out upon the industry of organised theft and traffic begging system. It is an open secret that the begging community is a well trained and organised group which uses trafficked children to not just beg, but also steal and snatch valuables, especially in and around the metropolitan belt. It is very emotional to see a woman in torn, shabby clothes carrying kids sleeping in her arms asking around for alms to feed her children. However, if we dig out the facts and investigate or even discuss with a few of our friends serving in the police, we would come to know that in most cases these children do not belong to the women begging. These children are either trafficked or have been loaned by the families through various trafficking rackets. The kids are injected with low-cost sedatives or drugs in the form of cough syrup and are made to sleep for hours on end, so that they can be used as a prop for begging, without any ruckus. These kids are also given on rent or are hired for a longer period of time, till this small begging kid grows up to become a thief or a drug peddler or a politically hired contract killer as a teenager.
My battle is against the system of human trafficking in West Bengal. These human trafficking rackets must be strongly countered by the system and should be made to bow down on its knees, in front of law. Only then will these subsidiary industries receive a major blow. But unfortunately, since many of the existing mafias of West Bengal are directly or indirectly related to this system, no effective step has been taken to restrain them. Also, I propose to include counterstriking the human trafficking system as one of the major pointers in the election manifesto of Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal.
Whichever woman is forcefully made to earn through these industries shall be provided with the opportunity of alternative empowerment and a respectable life, which is because of the fact that they are the victims of a highly organised crime. But those criminals who are promoting human trafficking, forced sex trade or any such heinous crime that can cause harm to the nation and its people, will be legally annihilated.
As a woman politician with the Bharatiya Janata Party combating the organised crime of trafficking, I will not stop until every woman in my state has the right to education, social security and health.
The author is President of BJP Mahila Morcha, West Bengal.