UN report points to role of illegal agencies.
Guwahati, July 7: Assam has earned the dubious distinction of being one of the eight Indian states accounting for the highest number of children being trafficked for employment as forced labourers or domestics.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report that revealed this grim statistic clubbed the state with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The report titled, India Country Assessment Report: Current Status of Victim Service Providers and Criminal Justice Actors on Anti-Human Trafficking, was released in Delhi recently. It was based on a UNODC-commissioned study conducted by Shakti Vahini, a NGO working against trafficking.
“There has been an increasing trend of children being trafficked from the states of Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh for the purpose of domestic labour. The trafficking of children is being undertaken by illegal placement agencies,” the report said.
“These placement agencies are earning huge profits by bringing in children from these states. Many of these placement agencies are operating from Delhi and the NCR (National Capital Region),” it said. “Investigation has proved that these agencies have been involved in trafficking of thousands of children and are also responsible for the missing children figure in the states.”
On being asked about the report, Assam social welfare minister Akon Bora conceded that despite steps taken by the government to stop human trafficking, it was still a menace. “Superintendents of police and deputy commissioners of every district have been asked to take all necessary steps to curb human trafficking in the state,” he said.
“Despite constraints such as the manpower shortage faced by police, we are doing whatever is possible to from our end. Whenever we get any information, we act promptly. Many victims of trafficking have been rescued from places like Haryana and Andhra Pradesh and reunited with their families,” Bora added.
He said poverty was one of the reasons behind some parents sending their children to work as domestics, who sometimes end up being exploited. “We are also taking help of NGOs and trying to sensitise people living in vulnerable areas about unscrupulous elements trafficking children and women with false promises of work, better career prospects and marriage.”
On the modus operandi of the placement agencies, the UNODC report said these recruit children from far flung villages by luring them with the promise of getting jobs.
“Once these children reach the capital they are traded off to prospective employers who pay an advance of Rs 30,000 to Rs 45,000 plus Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 as placement agency charges. After the money has been paid, the custody of the children is given to the employers. The children have to work 10-14 hours daily without any salary or holidays. The advance money taken by the placement agencies never reaches the family of the child. After sometime, these children become bonded and they are forced to work,” the report said.
“Many such children have reported physical and sexual abuse, torture and violence. It is only when information reaches the police about their conditions, that the rescue takes place,” it added.