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Assam hotbed of child trafficking

- 300km march starts today from Guwahati to sensitise people

Guwahati, Dec. 7: Bachpan Bachao Andolan — the largest grassroots movement in the country against child trafficking — today named Assam as one of the biggest source for trafficking of children in modern times.

“Assam has emerged as one of the biggest source areas, transit route and destination for trafficking of children. It is the choicest place for the child traffickers to thrive on account of frequent natural calamities, insurgency, acute poverty, illiteracy and ignorance of the masses, extremely weak law enforcement,” said the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan and the chairman of Global March Against Child Labour, Kailash Satyarthi, at a news conference here today.

He said around 4,000 children were missing — most of them were trafficked in the last two years from Assam and interestingly there have been only 15 convictions.

He said girls from Assam were trafficked as forced labour in metros. Many of them end up as domestic help and are physically abused and sexually exploited, he added.

“They are sold at brothels in cities for child prostitution. A procurer gets anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh for each girl supplied depending on her age,” he said.

There are many illegal placement agencies in Delhi who are running this racket and a large number of them deal exclusively with the Northeast.

He said Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Global March Against Child Labour were organising a 300-km march to sensitise the masses and strengthen concerted and collaborative efforts to fight child labour and trafficking.

The march will be flagged off by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and senior most judge of Supreme Court and National Legal Services Authority executive chairman, Justice D.K. Jain, from Guwahati tomorrow. The march after passing through Nalbari, Barpeta, Sorbhog, Bongaigaon, Chapar, Bilasipara will culminate in Dhubri at on Tuesday.

“This is the first time that the judiciary and that also the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is present along with civil society activists,” he said.

The principal objective of launching this campaign and marching across Assam is mass sensitisation and awareness at the source of the problem, in this case the remote villages in Assam; engaging administration and judiciary on this neglected issue of trafficking of children for forced labour; strengthening the civil society actions; building partnerships with village defence parties (VDPs), community groups and all other stakeholders; advancing the cause of quality education and demanding concrete, convergent and time bound action by the government to counter child labour and trafficking.

Two girls from Assam who were rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan were present at the news conference. Both the girls narrated their predicament and how they were lured into the trade.

“I was 13 years old when a person approached my family and assured my parents that if they send me to Delhi with him, I would lead a good life and get regular meals. That person took me to Anand placement agency in New Delhi and thereafter found me a job as a domestic help in a family in Punjabi Bagh in New Delhi. I worked there for 14 months but was not paid a single rupee. Some people from Bachpan Bachao Andolan rescued me in 2010 and I was united with my family,” one of the girls said.