NE girls exploited in spas, says NGO

Guwahati, Dec. 2: Many minor girls from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are trafficked to south Indian towns and sexually exploited in spas there, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, led by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, has found during the course of its rescue operations.

Kailash Satyarthi | Image source: TelegraphIndia
Kailash Satyarthi |Image source: TelegraphIndia

The NGO, which has rescued thousands of child labourers and victims of trafficking from different parts of the country, said many minor girls have fallen victim to traffickers because of a spurt in spa business.

“We have come across minor girls from Sivasagar and Sonitpur districts of Assam and from Arunachal Pradesh in spas in Tamil Nadu. Tourism is growing and so is the number of spas in Tamil Nadu towns such as Chennai and Coimbatore as well as Thrissur in neighbouring Kerala. This has led to a spurt in the demand for staff for massage service. The traffickers eye poor families in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh and lure minor girls with promises of jobs in spas. The parents send their daughters as they are promised Rs 10,000 to 15,000 per month,” the NGO’s project director (campaign and victims assistance) Rakesh Senger told The Telegraph.

“According to our information, many of these girls working in spas are sexually exploited by clients who come for massage. But since spas are legal and registered by the government, it is difficult to crack down on them until the victims or their families lodge complaints with us and police,” he added.

The NGO recently rescued four boys and three girls, aged between 16 and 17 years and hailing from Sonitpur, from Chennai following complaints by their parents. The rescued girls complained of sexual exploitation by clients at the spas. “Now a new trend has been observed – young boys are also sought by women clients visiting such spas for massage and other services,” Senger said.

Yesterday, the NGO rescued two boys and four girls working as domestic help at Shivaji Enclave in West Delhi, it said in a statement issued today. The children, also aged between 16 and 17 years and hailing from Udalguri district of Assam, were rescued following a complaint lodged by the sister of one of the girls. The complainant had been trafficked too but managed to escape last year, the NGO said.

The six children were missing for the past three years. They had been engaged as domestic help by Munna Choudhury, who runs an illegal placement agency in West Delhi. He was arrested by Delhi police, who carried out the raid jointly with the NGO.

Senger said the Delhi government has asked all the placement agencies in the city to register with it to check such illegal activities but only 600 of over 5,000 placement agencies have registered so far. “The illegal placement agencies use traffickers to get the girls,” he added.

The NGO recently moved the crime branch of Delhi police to nab 38-year-old Sophiya from Baksa district in lower Assam. She had allegedly trafficked over 150 girls, mostly from tea gardens, and engaged them in “objectionable activities”. “We lodged the complaint after parents of not less than 50 children, who had gone missing, sought our help,” the NGO’s assistant project officer (victim assistance) Surajit Bordoloi said.

Satyarthi, during his visit to Assam in July, had said the state had emerged as a major hub for trafficking of children. “The problems confronting the state, poverty, illiteracy, insurgency and natural calamities like floods, act as push factors for child trafficking. The traffickers target such children as it is the most lucrative illicit form of earning with less investment,” he had said.

The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation has joined hands with the Assam government to set up a fund dedicated to tackle child trafficking and its prevention in the state.



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