State labour minister KN Tripathy (centre) at the seminar in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Hardeep Singh)
Needy women who migrate to metros to work as full-time housemaids can suffer physical, mental and sexual torture in the homes of their employers, something that Jharkhand knows well.
Work in Freedom (WiF), a partnership programme of International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Department of International Development in UK, to prevent trafficking of women and girls in South Asia and Middle East, was launched in Jharkhand at a Ranchi hotel on Wednesday.
The programme will pilot in four blocks — Ranchi, Mandar, Khunti and Gumla — in three districts of Ranchi, Khunti and Gumla.
“In India, our focus is on the domestic work sector,” said Tine Taermose, director, ILO decent work team for South Asia. “There is widespread internal migration. Women and girls leave homes to go to other states and metros in search of a living,” she added.
“A report suggests that the number of migrating domestic workers was up by about 68 per cent in India during the past decade,” she further said. “Some succeed, many others are subjected to forced labour and exploitation.”
“Since they are also workers, they must get the dignity and freedom of workers,” Taermose stressed. “In this, ILO will lend technical support to the state government.”
“Jharkhand is equally concerned and trying its best to curb child labour and trafficking of women,” said the state labour minister K.N. Tripathy. “There is need for concerted effort supported by strong policy and proper rehab. The WiF will be a catalyst.”
Additional director-general of police S.N. Pradhan stressed that curbing trafficking was not the job of the police alone. “We all need to work together,” he said.
State labour commissioner Manish Ranjan said migrating in search of jobs was within one’s rights, so the state and stakeholders concerned must ensure it is safe. “In this context, the launch of WiF in Jharkhand is historical,” he said.
Ranjan also spoke on a state taskforce comprising representatives of important departments to curb trafficking. “The roles of everyone are defined. Rs 50 lakh has been sanctioned for it and a 24/7 call centre in Ranchi and a rescue home in Delhi are also being set up.”
Labour department special secretary K.K. Sinha stressed on awareness campaigns in vulnerable areas. State Commission For Protection Of Child Rights head Rooplaxmi Munda and state women’s commission boss Mahua Maji stressed on creating job opportunities in the state to nip trafficking in the bud.