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Human trafficking is a global challenge. Most of the victims of this menace land up in sex trade which is still illegal in major parts of the planet. Termed as the oldest trade of human civilization, prostitution is equally rampant in countries where it is banned. In fact, the sufferings of the sex workers are more in these countries. Since it is illegal, those in the ‘trade’ adopt the ways of human trafficking, illegal confinement, bribing law enforcement agencies such as police and even the judiciary. The thriving sex tourism attracts lakhs of tourists to many Asian countries.

In India, there are a number of agencies, both government and non government, working against the menace of human trafficking. But, it appears, all the money spent in such work is going down the drain since sex rackets are growing every day. The recent Delhi incident is an eye opener. Although no media bothered to go into the depth of the real issue, the complaints lodged by local residents to the police speak volume of the sex and drug rackets. Had the Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti not taken the TV crew along with him, there could have been bigger catch. His attempt to make it a media expose boomeranged. The footage he wanted to portray himself as a hero turned him into a villain instead. The hue and cry is despite the Aam Aadmi Party’s repeated contention that racial abuse or vigilantism against alleged prostitutes was not the real issues in the incident. Interestingly, no political party or organisation has so far dared to deny the existence of the racket.

For those, who are still skeptic about the police being involved in sex and drug rackets, the report about existence of an organised red-light area a stone’s throw away from Silchar police station in Assam should say it all. The police station is the biggest in a town, which serves as a centre of four districts and also connects three other states. Former sex workers rescued from the brothels even reportedly alleged that police used to guard the gates of the isolated lane and are regularly paid of their ‘job’. There are three types of women in these places – young girls brought there against their will, older ones who are now accustomed to the trade and have no other place to go and settle, and the pimps and the owners. The actual picture of the illegalities can only be found if a raid can reach the first set of women. They are most often kept in confinement and transported to other places before the raid whenever the racketeers get information in advance from the police on their ‘rolls’.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on January 25, 2014)