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Type of document: News
Topic: Trafficking patterns
Geographic descriptors: India
Language: English
Source: cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=202454
Date of publication: 22 September 2006
Long Abstract: In Garvi Gujarat, growth rate’s rising but so’s child-trafficking

Children from Rajasthan and Nepal engaged in restaurants, those from Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar employed in diamond-cutting and zari works: NGO Dhurjoti Bhattacharya

Ahmedabad, September 23: AS Gujarat flaunts its 12 per cent annual growth rate, the graph of immoral trafficking of women and children across the State is also showing an upward movement. According to an ongoing survey by city-based NGO Sneh Prayas, more than 1,500 children have been trafficked to Ahmedabad alone in the past one year.

“Children are brought to the State to work in industrial units,” says Rajib Biswal, project co-ordinator, Sneh Prayas. They are also employed in houses as domestic helps, he adds.

The NGO has taken up the survey under the National Child Labour Project.

Dwelling on the source and nature of such trafficking, Biswal says, ‘‘The survey is throwing up interesting patterns relating the source and destination of child-trafficking in the State. We have observed that children from Rajasthan and Nepal are mostly engaged in small restaurants and hotels whereas children from poorer states like Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar are employed in diamond-cutting and zari works.” He adds, ‘‘Children are procured from the most impoverished districts of these states. The procurer promises decent living conditions and remuneration for children. In reality, they are forced to live in sub-human conditions and are seldom paid.’’

Many of these children are also sexually exploited. “Most of the small-scale units in Bapunagar, Sanand and Kalupur employ children, who have been brought in from other states. Owners of these units are trying to hinder the survey,” says Biswal.

‘‘It’s very difficult to get to talk to these children,’’ says Biswal, who claims that owners of the units have abused and threatened their surveyors on number of occasions. Even if we get in touch with the children, the owners introduce them as relatives which prevents us from doing anything, he says. Not only Ahmedabad, children are also being trafficked to other parts of the State as well. With more and more industrial units being set up in Kutch, incidents of child-trafficking are on the rise here, says Siddhi Dholakia, program co-ordinator at Sneh Prayas. ‘‘Surat is a well-known destination for child-trafficking as a lot of children are absorbed in its diamond-cutting industries,” she says. Now, the NGO suspects that children from Pakistan are also being brought in to work at small-scale units in Bhuj.

The United Nation’s Development Programme’s recently launched ‘Prevention of Trafficking, HIV/AIDS in Women and Children’ programme has listed Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat districts as destination points for child-trafficking.

According to a status report on the programme, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat are also the districts with high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

Additional Project Director of Gujarat AIDS Control Society Dr D M Saxena refuses to agree with the report. ‘‘The rate of HIV/AIDS infection has come down from 5 to 2 per cent per year over the past couple of years,’’ he says, adding, ‘‘The veracity of claims regarding trafficking of women and children need to be ascertained properly as no such conclusive survey has been taken up in the State so far.’’

However, an activist working with commercial sex workers says: ‘‘Not only are children from across the country being trafficked in Gujarat to work as labourers, women from all over the country as well as from Nepal and Bangladesh are regularly brought here. There exists a strong network of procurers, pimps and sex workers. But we are yet to come across an organized syndicate in this area.’’

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