“Each time we rescue a girl it’s the same story. She has a jhola (bag) with a change of clothes and just hope that one day she can have a good life in the city,” says Rishi Kant, media coordinator of Shakti Vahini.
It is the same story for every girl who falls into the trap of human traffickers and is tricked into arriving at metros from remote villages mostly from tribal areas of the country. Recently, the plight of a 13-year-old girl bought from Jharkhand by a placement agency at Punjabi Bagh made headlines. Employed as a maid by a doctor couple, living in Dwarka, her nightmare began thereafter. The girl was locked up at the Dwarka apartment without sufficient food for about a week, while her employers were on a vacation at Bangkok in Thailand. After she was rescued, she narrated her story to members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of how she
was physically and mentally abused by her employers.
Girls like her are lured into “starting a new and better life” in the big cities. “They belong to poor backgrounds and are tricked by traffickers into coming to Delhi and Mumbai for employment as a maid. Most of them are only 13-year old who fall to the bait of earning a princely sum of Rs 4,000 to 5,000 per month. The modus operandi of the traffickers is that local middlemen lure girls from villages and sell them to traffickers. They would then bring them to the city and decide whether they should be placed into the sex-trade or be employed as a domestic maid or sold as a bride in areas with a skewed sex ratio,” says Kant.
The girls are sourced from states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. South 24 Parganas, a district in West Bengal is notorious in the trafficking of girls. Most of these girls are reported missing from their hometowns, while some arrive in cities with the consent of their parents, propelled by endemic poverty.
According to PM Nair, Additional Director General, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), “Children are most vulnerable as they know nothing about human trafficking. They can be subjected to exploitation. And the price at which they are sold depends on a certain criteria. For instance, the younger the girl, she will be more expensive to buy.”
Most NGOs working in this field of child trafficking agree that most placement agencies are illegal. They make fake maid verification forms so that the girls can be hired. In Delhi, points out Kant, such placement agencies are mainly located at Shakarpur and Punjabi Bagh. “If they did a verification of a girl, who is missing from her village, the police would learn about this and prevent her employment.”
Delhi is also a hotbed of missing children who are trafficked across the country. To tackle and curb trafficking of children the government setup Anti-Human Trafficking Units across the country. The units ensure coordination between the police forces of different states in order to relay information to curb the menace.