NGOs working in eastern part of India that is hit by floods worry that women and children who have been left homeless because of the natural disaster face the threat of human trafficking. Those displaced from their homes and natural environments are liable to be sold as slaves to middle class houses, small-time restaurants and brothels, reports Hindustan Times.
More than two lakh people from the states of Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand have been moved to relief camps as heavy monsoons caused rivers like the Ganges and its tributaries to overflow over their banks, causing widespread destruction, and death of at least 300 people. Several thousand houses and buildings have been submerged in water and farmlands have been destroyed as well.
“Children are always the most vulnerable during emergencies – especially during floods, when families are forced to move to higher ground, leaving their homes for an extended period of time,” said Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children India to Hindustan Times.
“While a child’s parents may not always remain in their close proximity, and with the presence of strangers, the threat of sexual abuse and child trafficking is high. There are organised groups of offenders who are quick to seize opportunities to exploit the plight of children.”
India has a large population of slaves-45.8 million, which makes up about 40% of the entire world’s slavery population according to the 2016 global slavery index released by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation. South Asia has become the second largest place for human trafficking after East Asia. And post-disaster trafficking is on a rise which makes the already poor population even more vulnerable to such issues.
Even social organisations are not enough to make women and children feel safe with adequate supplies, which bring them closer to sexual assault, slavery and kidnapping.
Save The Children, ActionAid and the UN children’s agency UNICEF are working with the government in Bihar to minimize the risk but it is still not enough.
Before the current floods, we had held meetings early this month on the issue of human trafficking,” said Imamudin Ahmad, director of Bihar’s social welfare department.
“We are sensitising people and are involving everyone, including the police department, labour department and social welfare departments.”
The rehabilitation centres and aid workers are trying their best to save children from any kind of misbehaviour. They are scanning children friendly spaces and checking trains which become the mode of transport to kidnap kids and women, to check any such illegal practices.
Rescue, relief and rehabilitation adequately done, is the only answer to this growing menace.
Feature Image Credit: Indian Express