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US consulate joins NGO to fight human trafficking
May 13, 2008 13:57 IST
A woman from Kolkata was forced to be a domestic help by an Indian in the US. She was provided a meal a day and no wages. Another woman from Kolkata was beaten up and kept in confinement. A Kolkata resident forced his wife to watch pornography in the US. The woman resisted, but the incident left her traumatised.
To prevent crimes against woman outside Kolkata and stop human trafficking Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a Kolkata-based NGO, has tied-up with the US Consulate General, Kolkata.
Apne Aap was set up in 2002 in a red light area of Mumbai. The organisation has now spread to Maharashtra, Delhi, Bihar and West Bengal, reaching out to almost 4,800 women, girls and children. It has set up five anti-trafficking units in red light areas and slums.
The NGO will launch an information campaign promoting awareness about this social scourge. The US Consulate will partner Apne Aap and will help in supply of funds and in mobilising the required infrastructure.
According to Deborah Miller, chief of consular services at the consulate, human trafficking is a serious problem worldwide. Those who migrate to the US might end up being abused and the campaign would inform women about whom to contact for assistance in or outside Kolkata.
"If there is any complaint against a women's companion for sexual abuse, domestic violence or slavery, the accused will not be issued visa to the US for the rest of his life," Miller said.
The US consular section will distribute brochures to visa applicants including contact numbers of assistance programmes in India and the US. Several posters depicting the social scourge will be displayed in the consulate's visa waiting room, as part of the campaign.
According to International Human Rights Watch, about 15 million women and children in India are the victims of trafficking. Over 50 per cent of them are minors.
In West Bengal, places like Murshidabad, Sunderbans, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and city areas such as Topsia and Kidderpore report the highest incidence of human trafficking. In 2007, the US contributed approximately $79 million (about Rs 316 crore) abroad to fund 180 international anti-trafficking projects in 90 countries. India received nearly $8 million (about 32 crore) from the US to fight trafficking of women and children.
The NGOs in West Bengal received more than $400,000 to conduct their programmes.
Apne Aap is funded by United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, United Nations Fund for Women, Geneva Global, the Oak Foundation, West Bengal State Aids Prevention and Control Society, the Daywalka Foundation, Coalition against Trafficking in Women, Global Trafficking in Persons Office and the US government.