Darjeeling, 11 November
The National Commission for Women (NCW) today arrived in Darjeeling and met representatives from several welfare organisations operating in the Hills as well as police, to review the situation in view of the growing vulnerability of women and children with the menace of trafficking turning ominous in the Hills
“Darjeeling Hills are vulnerable in terms of women trafficking. We are sad to note that the government machinery that was set off to stave off the menace is not functioning properly here,” said Ms Charu Walikhanna, a NCW member and a chairperson of the enquiry committee on incidents of trafficking for West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.
She pointed out several lacunas, hamstringing the effectiveness of the anti-trafficking machinery of the government. “To start with, there is no recovery centre for the trafficked women. Neither is there any arrangement to keep the children rescued from the traffickers. Besides, there is no full-fledged anti-women trafficking unit to effectively take on the menace. Police alone are left to tackle it on its own resources. The situation is worrisome. We would take it up with the Centre,” Ms Walikhanna added.
She further said, the committee is tasked with preventing, helping with
post-trafficking assistance and overseeing the network. “Every woman has a right to migrate for work, but the preventive measures ensuring safe migration for women is not being properly carried out in the district,” she said.
The National Commission for Women is a statutory body for women established in 1992 by the Government of India under the provisions of
the Indian Constitution as defined in the 1990 National Commission for Women&’s Act. Mr Nirnay John Chhetri, another member of the enquiry committee, said: “The preventive system seems to be functioning only in papers, but technically and in terms of effectiveness on the ground, there is no protective mechanism working to provide a protective shield to the vulnerable women and children in Darjeeling Hills.”
“True, as compared to the previous years, the figure of such cases is declining. This decline corresponds to the awareness being roused among the vulnerable sections of the society. Such cases are now being reported and this is a positive development. Yet, the menace is alive and the women and the children remain at the receiving end of the flesh trade and trafficking,” he stated. He added that in 2011-2012, 30 traffickers were tracked and five of the accused were convicted.