I am not a commodity for God’s sake!

The agony of not being treated as human

Maria, age 10, had just returned from school when her parents told her that she was being sent to the city to work as a maid in a big house. That meant an end to her life of struggle and a life of luxury here after. She was very happy and excited to live in the city, earn her own living, support her family and make them proud. But that happiness was very short lived, until she realized that she was actually taken away to a dark house and forced to become a sex slave. There are many such Marias leading this dark life, having lost their identity and any hope of getting it back. It is time to wake up for those who think that slavery has vanished from our society or is prevalent only in the remotest parts of Africa. According to a research carried out by Free the Slaves, an organization which works towards banishing this evil from our society, the number of slave today are the highest as compared to any point in history, 80% of which are women and girls and 50% being minors. It is disheartening to see that those who should be playing with dolls are clearing becoming prostrate dolls caged in a life of despair.

Prevalence in modern society

Human trafficking, rightly called as the modern day slavery has taken an ugly form today, with the United Nations estimating it to be a $32 billion revenue generating business per year, making it the top company in the Fortune 500 list! Countries like Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, China and Nepal rank high on the supply side while Belgium, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Thailand and the US rank high on the demand side. Considering the fact that even with such a strict federal policing US has not been able to curb this evil, it raises apprehensions over the people responsible in some or the other way for human trafficking nurture in the society today. Right from passport offices to airport officials, there is corruption and dubious operation at many levels which has helped this evil to prevail. It is disappointing to see that humans are part of such a demeaning crime which doesn’t treat humans as humans but some commodity for trade.

The toll over tenderness

Human trafficking has had victims of a tender age of 6 years! An age where children struggle to learn A B C D and mathematical tables, are as innocent as a lamb, averse from this selfish world, are forced into the cruelty of life. Most of the victims contract STDs, HIV/AIDS, develop suicidal tendencies, post-traumatic stress syndrome and completely lose hope of living. An estimated 30,000 victims die of abuse, disease and torture each year. Forget about the world, even in India nearly 7000 Nepali girls are sold every year into the red light district and they are as young as just 9 years! Sadly we have not been able to do anything to prevent it.

Prevention – A perspective

There has been a long standing debate on whether to legalize prostitution in India or not. Though many argue that our society is not yet ready for it but people fail to understand is that whether we are ready or not, the fact remains that it is very much existing in our society today. By legalizing it we can bring in reforms that will prevent forced prostitution which will hinder human trafficking and save many innocent lives. Also, through legalization we can prevent the spread of diseases by issuing license to only the fit people. And needless to say, they will get a position of respect in the society and will be able to live their lives with dignity.

Swati Nidiganti