The crime of human trafficking has assumed a form of global epidemic, characterized by exploitation of humans beyond borders for financial and personal gain. Though women are the prime targets, children and men also fall victims. Streechetana, a women’s organization in Kozhikode, Kerala (affiliated Bharatiya Stree Shakti) jointly with NCW held a one-day National Seminar on “Human Trafficking: Impact on Women and Children” On 30th October 2017. The objective of the seminar were- To facilitate creation of a platform to bring together members from varied forums to deliberate on this growing crime of human trafficking, particularly in relation to disasters and migration; to focus on the nature of trafficking, its causes, risk factors for victims, ; to urge the need for collaboration of all concerned stakeholders in prevention and prohibition of crime; to help provide speedy rehabilitation measures for victims; and to disseminate related information among the public.
At the inaugural session, in welcome address by General Secretary, Streechetana and National President Bharatiya Stree Shakti, Dr. K S Jayasree shared activities by BSS and objectives of seminar. In her presidential address, Radha Iyer, Director, Streechetana, said that the menace of trafficking can be curbed only when society is vigilant. Hon’ble National Commission for Women Member Ms. Sushma Sahu, detailed about the increasing incidents of trafficking in India. Ms. Nirmala Apte, Founder of Bharatiya Stree Shakti, who was the guest of honor, said that BSS has worked with NCW earlier on several problems. It is the responsibility of family and the society to give pro-active support to tackle trafficking. To deal with this, multi-disciplinary and participatory approach is needed with joint cooperation of Govt., NGOs and all other stakeholders. Ms.Preeti Patkar, Founder of Prerana, Mumbai gave the keynote address. She said ‘all violence against human kind is preventable by awareness building, strengthening legal system and providing sustainable rehabilitation to the victims’. Dr. Moly Kuruvila, Director, Department of Women’s Studies, University of Calicut spoke of the need to have special awareness session for parents in her felicitation address, followed by Vote of Thanks by Dr. K. P. Asha.
First session, ‘Human Trafficking – A Discourse in: Exploitation and Illegality’ was chaired by Dr.Suja M .K, Associate Professor & Head, Dept. of Social Work, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore Campus. Paper on ‘Disaster, Calamities and Increased Risk of Human Trade’ was rendered by Dr. Neena Joseph, Former Professor, Institute of Management in Govt., Kakkanad which discussed about types of disaster, consequences, vulnerabilities of victims, coping capacity. ‘Sex Trafficking and Women was presented by Dr. Gita Gopal, Former Gender Advisor, Government of Kerala and she called for change of approach and mindsets. ‘Child Victims and Human Trafficking – Raising Public Awareness and a Collective Voice’ by Dr.Bindumol V. C, Government Law College, Ernakulam discussed about national legal frameworks and role of Govt agencies working in tandem with NGOs in rehabilitating victims and witnesses. ‘Trafficking Crimes: Law Enforcement Agency and Justice’ by Dr. Jayesh K Joseph, Criminologist, Kerala Police Academy, Thrissur explained that the role of Police lies in prevention, identification, intervention, protection and rehabilitation stages. Kerala has various preventive models – Janamythri Police, Student Police Cadet system, Jaagratha Samithies, ORC (Our Responsibility to the Child). Next Session was Chaired by Dr. Neena Joseph, Former Professor, Institute of Management in Government, Kakkanad. In ‘Virtual space and child Abuse’-Dr. Pattathil Dhanya Menon, Cyber Crime Investigator, spoke about the hidden dangers in cyberspace particularly for children and the urgent need for creating parental awareness. Paper on ‘Cyber Evidence of Crimes related to Human Trafficking’ was by Dr. P Vinod Bhattathiripad, Cyber Consultant and highlighted that use of digital equipment by traffickers leaves behind cyber evidence which help forensic cyber experts and cyber literacy and setting up of more cyber cells. Third session ‘Media, Human Rights and Judicial Interventions’ was chaired by Prof. Bindu Amat, Associate Professor, Providence College, Kozhikode. Paper ‘Stigma of Survivors: A Human Right Perspective’ by Dr. Anjali Vishwas Deshpande, Drishti Stree Adhyayan, Probodhan Kendra, Pune, suggested awareness, setting up of shelter homes and education with vocational training. ‘Trafficking – Judicial Interventions and Laws’ by Prof.Thaji G B, Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram, stated the major causes of trafficking are poverty, illiteracy, lack of opportunity and famine. At the Valedictory Session Ms. A R Supriya, President, Streechetana concluded the Seminar and delivered an informal vote of thanks.
In conclusion, need for more awareness programs and research in human trafficking with strict State action plan in disasters, arrangement for more shelter homes, strong support system for rehabilitation needed for victims- are the few suggestions. Finding weaknesses and strengths of legal framework and law enforcing agencies and suggestions for modifications are of prime importance. So that stringent punishment to offenders will be given. Bringing speedier justice to stigmatized victims and identifying better ways to rehabilitate them will improve their quality of life. Total coordination of academia, legal machinery, police, media, NGOs and civil society should be emphasized to root out this evil for promotion of a peaceful society. Prevention and prohibition of trafficking and rehabilitation of victims is of prime importance.