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Bengal: Scheme to prevent trafficking in girls

Publish Date: 24 Nov 2005

Source: The Statesman
By Amrita Roy Chowdhury in Kolkata, Nov 23 

Scheme to prevent trafficking in girls

The state government has launched a scheme to prevent trafficking of girls across the state’s borders by teaching those at risk about the dangers of trafficking.

The one-year grassroots venture is being led by the state’s women and child development and social welfare department following a memorandum of understanding signed between Save the Children, a UK-based NGO aiming to protect children from trafficking.

Officials hope that by spreading awareness about trafficker’s tactics among girls and their families they can prevent young girls from rural areas ending up in prostitution. For example, department officials have found that people known to the families of young girls often act as touts to traffic female minors. The girls are then smuggled across West Bengal’s borders to Bangladesh or to other states, without them or their families being aware of such rackets.

The programme is being implemented in six districts—Nadia, Murshidabad, North and South 24-Parganas and Midnapore(east and west). According to Ms Pratima Roy, deputy director of social welfare, these areas are most vulnerable to instances of child trafficking. “Even the Border Security Force fail to arrest the rising incidents,” she added.

Training sessions on anti-trafficking awareness, held at the directorate in Salt Lake, were recently held for child development project officers, assistant CDPOs and supervisors from the six districts. They in turn will train hundreds of anganwadi workers participating in ICDS at the block levels.

Ms Roy reported 18 blocks have been identified where anganwadi workers will act as the medium to create awareness of anti-trafficking measures among adolescent female students in schools, Mahila samities and local clubs.

She added: “The training of the district-officers is complete. Now the district officers will train the anganwadi workers.

In all, 45 training sessions will be held.” Gram panchayats in villages will be asked to keep a count of female minors so that they can be tracked through joint collaboration of the panchayat and other local bodies at grass-roots level, when they leave the village after marriage.

Copyright © 2005 The Statesman.