Saswati Mondal (name changed), a Class X student from the State’s South 24 Parganas district was trafficked to Delhi early this year and rescued from a red light district. Like many others she was lured by false promises of marriage and jobs.
Speaking to The Hindu on Thursday, Saswati said that poverty and lack of support to continue with her education made her “vulnerable”.
Trafficking of minor girls from West Bengal continues to be a major concern and activists working in Delhi claim that about 80 per cent of the girls in the red light areas of Delhi and adjoining areas are from West Bengal.
The teenager told The Hindu that there is need to have girls in schools to prevent trafficking.
“I took the pre-test examination, but left my studies before appearing in the final examination. There was neither monetary support nor any incentive to continue studies,” Saswati said. After her return she has enrolled in school again and will be appearing for Class X examinations next year.
Talking about steps which can prevent such cases, the girl said that schemes such as Kanyashree of the State government, providing scholarship to school going girls, could be of immense help to minor girls in West Bengal. Saswati enrolled herself for the scheme soon after she returned. On Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee echoed some of Saswati’s sentiments while talking about the Kanyashree scheme.
“The benefit of the scheme reached 3.75 lakh girl students on Thursday. The total number of beneficiaries in the past one year has reached 16 lakh, (which included Thursdays),” the Chief Minister said. She said that ‘Kanyashree Divas’ is being celebrated all across the State and added that in future the scheme will be replicated globally. Under the scheme an annual scholarship is provided to girls from Classes to IX to XII and on completion of 18 years of age, a one-time grant of Rs 25,000, will be given to each beneficiary.