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Human trafficking has been an evil part of the society for a very long time now. Can something be done to stop it? The author explores this.
Statistics show that about 70 percent of the human trafficking victims are women and children. And three out of four victims are exploited physically, mentally and sexually too!
Though a number of men are trafficked too, social conditioning sees a woman as someone more valuable to provide ‘sexual services.’ And this puts women and children at a greater risk of being trafficked.
I work to prevent trafficking of women and children and my work requires exploration of the root causes of the issue. It isn’t particularly surprisingly that discrimination serves to exploit women and girls physically, socially and psychologically. But what is shocking is that every person around the world has the ability to exploit women and will continue to do so.
This is a harsh reality that we need to know. Gender and caste based discrimination plays a great role in putting women and girls at risk to social exploitation. This includes trafficking too!
It isn’t just the poor socio-economic background of the family that comes to play. In fact, there are harmful traditional practices like the Devadasi system- where young girls are often forced into becoming devadasis (sex slaves) to priests. This is often done by the girl’s own parents who are poor and are giving away the girls as the only source of income. It is all done in practicality. And because of the economic slavery which is already established, the devadasis becomes an easy target for the traffickers.
These economic demands and the deprivation family life and the lack social support system contributes to the push and pull factors of trafficking. Traffickers use a dynamic of control and power play that is quite often invisible. They make sure to use deception and coercion of the victim by enforcing the fear of loss of the loved ones or false promises of a better life, livelihood and even marriage some times.
Human trafficking is an organised crime. And traffickers maximise their outreach and network with the help of technology- there is a widespread outreach of buyers and sellers across the globe.
Gone are the days when the pimps would visit remote villages and recruit girls and children for this. While that still continues to happen, with the advance in technology, these operations tend to become quicker and less risky. What’s more is that there are websites and mobiles that promote sex purchase, sex tourism and they continue to thrive with thousands of ‘dedicated’ users.
So how do we deal with a problem as massive as trafficking? It is of utmost importance to not just look at the victim centric approach. However, it is just as important to take the moral responsibility to address the demand factors of the demand-supply value chain of this crime. We need to intercept the demand that drives the high volume supply.
This demand of sexual exploitation is influenced not just by the price but also due to societal contexts, attitudes and some practices too. There is the systematic inequality that exists in objectifying women and using them as a commodity. This contributes to the demand and needs an effort to be addressed by the society, law enforcement and the common people as a whole.
The vulnerability cannot just be attributed to the poverty alone. Some times, it is the culture of silence to the violation of women’s and children’s rights that also contributes to this state of the issue. We continue to overlook the sheer number of women/children that go missing every day. Or we wait for the law enforcement to take action.
Merely caring is not enough. And even though we marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Nov. 25, we need to take collection action to do our bit in raising awareness on this issue. It is about time that some action is taken.
Picture credits: Still from a short film Sold
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Kim is a curious reader and a writer by a happy chance finding inspiration from
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