Cry of ‘missing daughters of Chhattisgarh’
By Matters India Reporter
Jashpur: The official data say that as many as 330 women and 230 children go missing and are feared trafficked every day! About 65,000 women and children have been trafficked out of Chhattisgarh from 2001 – 2013 of which 40% still remain untraced.
Chhattisgarh- predominantly a tribal (Adivasi) state, carved from the then Bihar and Madhya Pradesh states came into existence in 2000. It is also notorious as one of the top five states of India with a covert but well spread and thriving human and child trafficking racket which has been targeting women, young girls, and children for several years.
Trafficking is reported from various districts of the state including Raipur, Korba, and Sarguja. Jashpur District accounts for nearly 70% of the trafficking cases being reported in Chhattisgarh.
Although rich in minerals and forest produce, the backwardness due to illiteracy, the prevalence of Naxalism, apathy from Government departments and lack of employment opportunities induces massive migration.
Factors like abject poverty, widespread substance abuse, the absence of basic facilities and lack of educational and employment opportunities are major contributors to the rise in child trafficking incidents in Jashpur district. This makes Jashpur the child trafficking capital of not only Chhattisgarh but also of India.
Most of the children and girls are lured and trafficked from the state for employment in city households, industrial and manufacturing units, hotels, fishing trawlers, mines/quarries, and construction sites. Many girls are trafficked from Jashpur and Chhattisgarh to Punjab and Haryana for marriage purposes and a large chunk of them may eventually end up in the flesh trade.
The Sisters of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) have been present in the land for more than 60 years undertaking educational-health-socio-pastoral activities for the integral development of indigenous people.
Under the leadership of Sr. Anne Jesus Mary, the Directress of Jeevan Jharna Vikas Sansthan (JJVS), a registered NGO in 2006, the team has been spearheading to curb the menace of trafficking. For the last seven years, more than 100 women and young girls have been rescued and rehabilitated in the Adivasi society.
A number of programs and activities are geared to address the thrust areas such as protecting Tribal land, Tribal migration, livelihood options, women empowerment, community health activities, village development and youth empowerment. The society has adhered to its Vision (To create an Egalitarian Society by Organizing, Educating and Empowering indigenous communities to transform their own lives so that they could carve a niche for themselves) in all programs and activities.
With the support and partnership of UNICEF Raipur, particularly its Child Protection Officer Ms. Gargi Saha, JJVS was able to pioneer in the anti-trafficking activities from the year 2011.
Through awareness programs for villagers, Panchayat leaders, school children, school teachers, police personnel, and Government Departments the team has been making a viable impact on the aspect of anti-human trafficking. For the last five years, the team has covered 71 panchayats, 180 villages, 63 schools, 5 districts and state level training and workshops have been conducted. The mass awareness programs have created a huge response leading to visible results.
The focus has been on the three main components of protection i.e. rescue, reintegration, and rehabilitation. It was learned that children especially girls in Jashpur get easily lured by agents and other touts due to lack of education, awareness and livelihood options.
Hence in 2014, it was decided to focus on creating an enabling environment for all children with added factors of linkages to education, livelihood options for the families and young girls so that children can get a protective environment as to make them self-empowered. All this would further help in preventing trafficking of children from the district to a large extent.
In order to engage the communities and other stakeholders more intensively there is a clear need for implementing relevant capacity building programmes for the target groups and other stakeholders and livelihood measures for the families of the women and young girls at risk in the interior villages of Jashpur District. Therefore, JJVS is continuously engaging in generating awareness, creating community protection mechanisms, building the capacities of the Village Vigilance Committee and Community Based Organizations and implementing reintegration activities.
Recently on March 13, 2018, the permanent observer mission of the Holy See to the United Nations hosted the side event during the 62nd session of the commission on the status of women (CSW 62) at New York, U.S.A. The conference was entitled “Preventing human trafficking among rural women and girls: integrating inherent dignity into a human rights model”. Through the invitation and sponsorship of Mr. Luke, Director of Arise Foundation U.S.A, Sr. Annie Jesus was able to participate in the conference and highlight the issue related to Prevention of human trafficking in Chattisgarh state.
JJVS seeks valuable and fruit-bearing prayers for its work toward enhancing human dignity, justice, and equality for poor Adivasi sisters and brothers in this part of the world. More community collaboration and network toward this cause are needed.