NEW DELHI – More than 350 individuals, human rights organizations, child rights movements, women’s collectives and concerned national and International organizations/movements have sought judicial probe into the alleged trafficking of underage girls in UP’s Chitrakoot.
National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan (PMS), Swastik Mahila Samiti (CSW) and the Centre for Struggling Women (SMS) have filed a joint appeal to the governor and the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, calling on them to investigate the reported cases of minor girls forced into flesh trade. They have also drawn government’s attention towards local administration’s attempt to cover this heinous crime.
Chitrakoot, a place 700 km from Delhi in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region, is in news for the last one week after investigative journalist Mausami Singh of India Today released a report of the extreme poverty in the region that has forced families to send their daughters as young as 12 to middlemen for work and be paid after they had sex with whoever the middleman decided.
The stories are heart breaking. There were women talking about how it was impossible to survive without the girls being involved in the flesh trade, and middle aged women did not get jobs. Worse, the children were paid half of what was promised and they could not argue about the money as they have been living by the logic that some money is better than no money. As a result, instead of 400, they are paid 150-200 rupees.
In their appeal to the governor and chief minister, the signatories have expressed “disgust” at the manner in which the ordeal is being covered up by government officials. “As representatives of women’s organizations and movements, we are appalled at the manner in which the trafficking of minor girls in Chitrakoot is being covered up by irresponsible authorities. From blaming the reporters and news channels to bullying the girls into retracting their statements on camera, the administration is displaying an attitude of mal-intentions.
“This statement is an expression of our anguish at the plight of the girls and the apathy of the administration. We seek a speedy judicial probe and fair trial. We stand in firm solidarity with the survivors of the tragedy,” said the joint appeal by Deepti Bharti, general secretary, National Federation of Indian Women, Delhi Unit; Adv. Poonam Kaushik, general secretary, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, Delhi; Maya John, Centre for Struggling Women; and Kusum Sehgal, Swastik Mahila Samiti.
Besides these four organisations, those who have sought judicial probe include Mausimi Singh, Mariam Dhawale of the All India Democratic Women’s Network, members of the Red Rope Movement, Bharati Ali of HAQ Centre for Child Rights, Saheli, Joint Women’s Programme representatives from Terre des Hommes of Netherlands, UNICEF and the Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch, among others.