Of the 2.8 million prostitutes in the country, 35.47 per cent entered the trade before the age of 18 years, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury informed the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
'The study on girls/women in prostitution in India conducted between 2002-2004 reports that there is a growing trend in the number of prostitution in the country. The study estimates that there are 2.8 million prostitutes in the country of which 35.47 per cent entered the trade before the age of 18 years,' she said in a written reply.
The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 supplemented by the Indian Penal Code prohibits trafficking in human beings including children for purpose of prostitution and lays down severe penalties for traffickers, she said.
The ITPA is being further amended providing for more stringent punishment for trafficking in persons including children, Chowdhury said, adding that her ministry conducts advocacy, awareness generation, sensitization programme for prevention of child trafficking.
To a related question whether girls of poor families from various states are being trafficked to gulf countries, she said as per information received from ministry of overseas affairs, in cases of workers being sent abroad by illegal/ unscrupulous recruiting agents, the state police is requested to take legal action against the agents.
Besides, she said a ban has also been imposed on grant of emigration clearance to women below the age of 30 years if they are seeking employment as housemaids/domestic workers in any emigration check required country.