Are children being forced into sex trade
A child rights activist talking to G Plus in anonymity said that recently some sex workers were rescued from some brothels located in Silchar and it was found that a few among the many rescued, were children. This proves that children are being forced into commercial sexual exploitation. Talking about Guwahati in the backdrop of many articles G Plus has done over the years on the subject, it can well be assumed that sex trade in Guwahati may well exist undercover. If commercial sexual exploitation of children exists in Silchar which is a transit and destination point in the state for sex trade, Guwahati being a similar transit junction and gradually also becoming a destination, does commercial sexual exploitation of children actually take place here?
According to a lady officer in the police commissionerate, migrants from different states and also countries come to Guwahati in search of work. On failing to secure a job and getting fed up in the process, they foray into criminal activities by forming gangs that lure poor people from outside the state. The poor girls are brought from other states with promises of jobs and a better life and then are forced into flesh trade. The age group of the sex workers is usually 16 to 21. They get into the business and some residential premises are used as brothels. To lure customers the sex workers wait at the pickup points at night. The pickup points are mostly located at the populated junctions and markets where a huge nexus work in cohesion to lure customers who are then taken to hotels, or the houses where the act takes place. She also said that immoral activity is a major problem in Guwahati and the number of cases is increasing. On being asked about children and their commercial sexual exploitation, the lady said that in the last three years, many cases of sex trade were busted in Guwahati and in many of those cases minors were also rescued. The officer said that the exact age of the victim or the worker is difficult to identify but the girls are mostly aged between 16 and 21.
The city-based child rights activist who mostly works in slums near the railway tracks, talking to G Plus, said that even he has information of sex trade which happens in the slums near the railway station and some people even force the children into it but the children are threatened and trained in such a way that they do not disclose anything to the civil societies and the police when questioned or rescued. The activist said that child labour exists in a big way in the slums there and similarly it is suspected that commercial sexual abuse of the children also occurs. But catching the culprits red-handed and rescuing the children is a challenge as the incidents go unreported.
“Places like Silchar are already a transit and destination point for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). There should be no complacency on the part of the government and the civil societies to foresee the same in Guwahati city keeping in mind the increasing migration to the city due to floods, ethnic conflicts, general backwardness in rural Assam and also investment opportunities in the city. Therefore, measures should be taken to read the signs of CSEC and create adequate awareness around the issue and also to take adequate measures to combat CSEC,” said Miguel Das Queah, child right activist and founder of the NGO, UTSAH. There might not be a huge number of CSEC cases registered by the police but the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act cases registered says that sexual exploitation of children happens in the city.
With rise in number of criminal elements in the state, the Assam government has put in place stringent measures to curb these illegal practices. But despite these measures criminal activities are still on the rise. Four people were arrested in connection with a human trafficking ring. They were apprehended from Maligaon in Guwahati. The traffickers are allegedly from Haryana and have been identified as Sher Singh, Motilal Minnar and Lakshmi Devi. Similarly, there are many cases which show that minors are trafficked to different states from Assam. The NGO, Childline, had rescued minors from places like Kolkata, Delhi and some northern states. Similarly, children are being rescued from Assam too with the Silchar incident being a case in point. In Guwahati, the police said that in many cases the workers are between 16-21 years and the age cannot be exactly proven. So it can be suspected that children are forced into commercial sex trade in the city but the police need to be more alert, stringent and active. An activist said in anonymity that the local police mostly have a nexus with the gangs running the racket. There are some discotheques in the city where sex trade takes place and the police have the necessary information but hardly conduct raids because of the nexus. If the police are questioned, they say that they can raid discos only with the permission of excise department. Last year, there were raids and sex racket busts in some city spas where girls from different regions including Nepal and Thailand were working. The age of the workers are never verified. Before the issue gets to a level like Silchar, the authorities should take some steps starting with increasing the awareness level.
Some children rescued from brothels in SilchaR
Silchar turns into a transit and destination point for commercial sexual exploitation of children
Guwahati is a transit point in the northeast for sex trade; fast becoming a destination as well
Most workers belonging to the age group of 16-21
Suspected sex rackets where children are forced exists in slums near Guwahati railway station
Minors rescued from sexual abuse and cases registered under POCSO
2013 – 5
2014 – 3
2015 – 8
2016 – 1 (till June 16th)