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Women involved in the flesh trade are often found to have a disturbed past. Most of them have either no parents or parental guidance. The women doing the ‘immoral’ act mostly have none to answer in the society. A large chunk of them, however, are trafficked at some point of time and never had any option of ‘homecoming’. They lose the courage to go back home fearing the social taboo. Their children, fathers of whom are often anonymous, too suffer from social stigma. No society – even in the most developed countries – is free from this social evil. Even though India is always criticised by the West for not giving due honours to the women, the fact remains that even the US had allotted voting rights to the women much after it emerged as a global power. But it is also true that women, especially those without parents or guardians, are more vulnerable to such social evil in this country. Despite being a matrilineal state, the problem is very serious in Meghalaya as well.

There may not be many orphan girls or women in the state. But those without parental guidance are a substantial population. Besides, there is an abnormally high number of broken families in the state. The number of children being left by either of the biological parents is also huge. A boy, under such circumstances, tends to be a criminal while the girl becomes more vulnerable to ‘immoral’ acts. The latter turn out to be soft targets of prostitution rackets. So there is an urgent need to take care of these girls, specifically, since they are going to produce the next generation. Besides education, there is a need to ensure a conjugal life for them. The Chief Minister’s Wedding Assistance Scheme for Orphan Girls is a big step towards achieving this goal.

Launching of the pro-people scheme might also give an edge to the Mukul Sangma-led state government. A lot of such schemes are launched and forgotten as and when new political masters don the seat of power. The entire effort behind conceptualizing a scheme and its launch go futile when it failed to implement in the ground. This scheme for ‘betis’ should not be one of them. Else, chances will grow that they see themselves in the world’s ‘oldest profession’ of other ‘immoral’ acts. Besides, there is lack of clarity on the meaning of an ‘orphaned girl’. If it considers only those whose biological parents are no more, the whole purpose of the scheme will be defeated.

Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on December 12