AN estimated 70,000 child labourers including those trafficked from Bangladesh and Nepal are toiling as bonded labourers in inhuman conditions in the coal mines of Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya.
Impulse Network, a Northeast- based NGO working in the filed of human trafficking, made this revelation.
Team leader of the NGO, Hasina Kharbhin while delivering her lecture on ‘Human trafficking for child labour & prostitution’ in Guwahati, further said, “Children are easier to smuggle through borders, cheaper and easier to control, which makes them more vulnerable. Further, the unmanned borders along the North-East make it even easier for the traffickers.”
The seminar is part of two-day discussion on ‘Asscess to Justice and Socio-Economic development programme for the NE States’ at Pragjyoti ITA complex.’
“The North-East is a source, destination and transit region for human trafficking. The highway networks in the region connect many national and international destinations. The destinations are usually New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Kolkata and extend as far as Singapore and Thailand,” She said.
“Child trafficking, be it for forced labour or prostitution, is very much rampant in the North-East along with the rest of the country. Within India, there are an estimated 2.3 million women in prostitution, of which nearly six lakh are children,” Hasina claimed, adding that northeastern states are at high risk of trafficking due to displacement from armed conflicts, referring to the report of International Displacement Monitoring Centre. The report states that over 20,000 persons are displaced in Assam, 70,000 in Manipur, 60,000 in Tripura and 3,000 in Arunachal Pradesh.
According to UNIFEM, the criminal business of human trafficking generates over $10 billion a year making it the third largest criminal activity after drugs and armaments.
Earlier, Dr Amod Kanth, chairperson of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, called for the amendment in Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act as it has failed to encompass the broader implications of human trafficking. Mina Kabir, child rights activist, also spoke on the occasion.
(The Assam Tribune, 19-4-2010)