An Alipore court on Monday sentenced a woman to a maximum imprisonment of 10 years for her involvement in importing, buying and selling two minors from Bangladesh.
The additional district and sessions judge declared Hasnara Begum, 52, guilty under IPC sections 366A (procuration of minor girl), 366B (importation of girl from foreign country), 372 (selling minor for purpose of prostitution), 373 (buying minor for purpose of prostitution) and 120B (criminal conspiracy). The judge also slapped a Rs 1-lakh fine on the accused and recommended that the District Legal Services Authority compensate the girls.
Kolkata Police first received intelligence about a brothel managed by Begum in 2012 in Munshiganj, Khidderpore’s red light area. An inspection led to the rescue of two minor victims and Begum’s arrest. She has been in jail since 2012. The two victims, aged 14 and 16 years at the time, were kept in a private shelter on the orders of the Child Welfare Committee, and returned to Bangladesh in 2014.
“The girls were trafficked to India with the promise of jobs. Both underwent intense conditioning which included torture and rape…One of the victims was forced to have an abortion and take steroids to gain weight,” said Saptarshi Biswas, Director for Justice Solutions, International Justice Mission (IJM), Kolkata, which has been handling the case.
The court granted the victims repatriation during the trial process. “We started coordinating with the Bangladesh High Commission but the repatriation itself took a while,” added Biswas.
According to a recent UNICEF report, around 400 children and women are trafficked each month from Bangladesh, while 3 lakh children and women aged 12-30 years have been smuggled to India in the past decade. Some NGOs pegged the figure at 5 lakh.
A BSF report says 50,000 Bangladeshi girls are “trafficked to or through India’’ annually. “Bangladeshi women and children are also trafficked to Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE for sexual exploitation, involuntary domestic servitude, debt bondage. UNICEF reports that 40,000 children from Bangladesh are involved in sex work in Pakistan. Benapole border crossing is the most commonly used land route to India,’’ it added.
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