Following an advisory from the Centre to all states and Union Territories on preventing and combating human trafficking during the Covid-19 pandemic, the West Bengal State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) has decided to set up a committee in this regard.
Speaking to The Indian Express, SCPCR chairperson Ananya Chakraborty said the recovery rate of trafficked women from Bengal was high in comparison to other states.
“Today we have received the advisory from the central government on prevention of human trafficking during and post-Covid era. Based on this, we have decided to form a committee to look into the issue. The committee will comprise members of all stakeholders and prominent personalities of the society. The state government is doing a lot to address this issue. The recovery rate in our state is very high,” Chakraborty said.
In the July 6 advisory, the Ministry of Home Affairs advised the states and UTs to immediately set up new Anti-Human Trafficking Units and upgrade the infrastructure of the existing units in all districts with the financial assistance provided by the Centre.
It also advised the governments to evolve a coordination mechanism among various departments to handle issues of human trafficking and hold community awareness programmes on the issue of missing children.
The advisory also said that law enforcement agencies may engage with representatives of local panchayats, community leaders, municipal committees and others in tracing and recovery of missing and trafficked persons.
Speaking on the advisory, Chakraborty said, “We will soon issue a separate advisory for all our districts in this regard. This will be done once the committee is formed and discussions are held with the members.”
Recently, The Indian Express had reported on the fear of rise in human trafficking cases in the state following the Covid-19 crisis.
Between March 23 and April 23, the SCPCR received 136 complaints — over four every day on an average — about underage girls being forced into marriage. Activists and government officials feared a major spike in crimes, including trafficking of women and girls in the coming weeks and months.
They said that the economic distress, which would only have worsened in the wake of cyclone Amphan, would likely increase the attempts at trafficking minor girls with promises of jobs and marriages outside the state.
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