OdishaPlus Bureau

Odisha reported the highest human trafficking cases in 2021, according to the latest NCRB report on Human Trafficking (2021). Of the 1475 victims, trafficked from Odisha, 735 were women and among them 497 were below 18 years of age.

Speaking at a workshop on “Emerging Trends in Human Trafficking,” Chairperson, State Commission for Women, Minati Behera said that elopement cases among young adolescents had shot up especially post COVID. “The Commission is already sensitising communities by holding workshops in all districts and college-level workshops will also be conducted to sensitise young adolescents about the vulnerabilities around human trafficking,” Behera said.

“The access to mobile phones has made children as young as 14 years vulnerable to such crimes. Young adolescents get into relationships and later elope at a tender age without thinking of the consequences. After a few months of living together, they separate. These girls become easy targets for traffickers, who lure them to the business of sex trafficking,” Behera said, citing the sheer number of such cases landing at the Commission.

ADGP CID Crime Branch Arun Bothra described human trafficking as a “complex” problem. He also highlighted the steps taken by the state government through integrated anti-human trafficking unit in all districts and women and child desks at police stations to check the menace. Bothra also called upon the civil society to provide “actionable information” and help identify hotspots of human trafficking and bonded labour.

Aide et Action Director, Migration & Education, Umi Daniel highlighted the role of police in preventive arrests of traffickers last year. “The ‘movement slips’ and insistence on having registrations done before migrating was critical in combatting migration and bonded labour in Balangir last year,” he said.

Director of Childline in Odisha Benudhar Senapati informed about 16 child trafficking being registered in the last two months. “The little relief that the victims get is when they see the perpetrators punished and hence the law enforcement must work towards ending impunity,” Senapati said.

Two survivors of trafficking – Diyalu Niyal and Santoshini – shared their ordeal as victims and how the government helped to rescue them from exploitative bonded labour.

The event organised by the Odisha Women in Media, which was attended by over 50 media professionals across the state, aimed to enhance their knowledge and understanding on human trafficking and bonded labour in the state of Odisha and to encourage them for frequent reporting of the crime.