The Red Light Flashes

Caught between the twin millstones of grinding poverty, which is real, and glamour, a relentlessly beckoning mirage, more and more girls from the seven states (now it’s indeed ironic to call them Seven Sisters) in the Northeast are finding themselves in the coercive and dehumanising tentacles of the flesh trade in faraway metros like Mumbai, Delhi and Calcutta. At least 27 girls, in the 12-17 age group, have been rescued in the past one year. The racket was recently discovered by the Shillong-based Impulse ngo Network (ingon), when its activists began networking with various other groups in the country which work together under the banner of Action against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children (atsec). ingon president Hasina Kharbhih told Outlook that the arrested women traffickers, all based in Shillong, had told the police that an organised racket in illegal trafficking of women exists in the region. The bait, which is most commonly used, is the promise of prosperity and glamour in the world of high fashion and modelling. ingon has been appointed as astec’s nodal agency for the Northeast. The National Human Rights Commission (nhrc) has also appointed a nodal officer to look into trafficking and related crimes. P.M. Nair, an ips officer, has been entrusted with the task of launching a nation-wide action research project to get an accurate idea on trafficking in India. The nhrc has also written to all northeastern states to apppoint nodal officers.