I spent an evening at my local Dining for Women, a global organization of women dedicated to empowering women in the developing world. I socialized with some delightful, like-minded women and then we watched a video about the human trafficking crisis in India and the inspiring work Her Future Coalition is doing for rescued women and girls.
Prostitution is legal in India but human trafficking is not. Government statistics show that every eight minutes, a child goes missing in India. A human trafficking report in 2016 by the U.S. State Department wrote that India serves as a source, destination, and transit country for men, women and children victimized by slave labor and sex trafficking. Another study completed in 2018 wrote that the number of victims brought to India from Nepal rose by a staggering 500% between 2013 and 2017.
Why is human trafficking so prevalent in this region? There are a number of factors:
- Men come to the region to work in the commercial cities, so girls and women are kidnapped from poor families to satisfy the demand for commercial sex.
- The poorer the family, the greater the chance one of their daughters will be sold, particularly in the Northeastern region of India. Sadly, some families are so desperate they are even willing to sell their own daughters.
- Believing their children will receive education and jobs, parents are tricked into sending their children to these agents.
- Girls and women are trafficked for forced marriages because there is a shortage of available females due to female infanticide.
- An estimated 11.7 million people work for debt labor. When families are short on cash, they sell their sons and daughters to obtain money. Often these children don’t get paid for years.
Unfortunately, many times after girls are rescued, they are rejected by their families and treated as outcasts once they find out they were forced into prostitution.
The situation is bleak but there are people willing to donate time and money to help them. Organizations in India like Her Future Coalition work hard to rescue these women and girls, providing them shelter and job training so they have the tools to lead lives of independence and freedom. Her Future Coalition works with local agencies to construct shelters for rescued girls, where they are can stay for a long term and be safe and supported. The shelters provide food, clothing, medical attention, and counseling. Since the majority of those rescued have very little education, Her Future Coalition sponsors educational programs leading to job placement. The film showed examples of the most popular fields: nursing, jewelry-making, bee-keeping, and accounting. To date, over 700 survivors have benefitted from their educational programs. Human trafficking is a horrendous crime, but there are dedicated individuals working to combat it. The more the better.
Readers interested in finding out more information or donating to the Her Future can go to https://www.herfuturecoalition.org.
Women who want to find out about their local Dining for Women can go to https://diningforwomen.org.
Giri, Avinash, (2019, January 3). What’s wrong with India’s Efforts to Check Human Trafficking? [Blog post], Retrieved from https://thediplomat.com/2019/whats-wrong -with-indias-efforts-to-check-human-trafficking/