Human trafficking is a global problem and countries should come together to combat this organised crime, US Consul General in Kolkata Patti Hoffman said Wednesday, setting the tone for a three-day conclave on the social menace at American Center here.
"Trafficking in persons (TIP) remains a pressing issue across the world and the US is committed to work with its international partners to end the menace," Hoffman said.
The conclave, which is being attended by youth leaders from the US, Nepal and Bangladesh, will discuss the challenges that come in the way of tackling the social evil and its possible solutions, she added.
Ravi Kant, the founder of NGO Shakti Vahini, noted that the three-day meet is aimed at finding "synergies" between stakeholders to initiate "concrete action" against the traffickers.
"Shakti Vahini, along with US consulate, has been organizing this conclave for the past few years to highlight the factors that have led to the rise in number of trafficking cases everywhere and the plight of the victims, some as young as eight," Kant added.
At the inaugural session of the conclave, Arati Kujur, the chairperson of Commission for Protection of Child Rights in Jharkhand, one of the worst-affected states, said tracking the victims often becomes a problem when their names are changed as they move from one place to another.
Citing an example, Kujur said, "Say a 21-year old woman, who is also known by the name Anju at her native village, went missing. The authorities, who have been looking for her, do not know that she goes by the name of Sabina in Delhi. It becomes difficult to follow the trail when identities are changed."
"Children, especially girls, are often trafficked to other states and neighbouring countries, where they are made to work as domestic help or sex slaves. Some are married off to older men," she said, adding that trafficking and child labour are related and cannot be seen in isolation.
Durga Khaitan, the member secretary of state Legal Services Authority, said Bengal has been witnessing a surge in trafficking cases of late, but the authorities are trying their best to address the situation, with help from stakeholders.
"The government is making efforts to rescue and rehabilitate the victims by finding them sources of income. The children are usually reunited with their families or sent to an asylum for pursuing education," she added.
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