Penalties should act as deterrent for sex traffickers: Victims
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Last Updated: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 23:55
New Delhi: Sex trafficking victims from various Asia Pacific countries on Tuesday demanded amendment to laws to include stricter penalties that can act as a deterrent to those involved in flesh trade and ensure better protection for women in the country.

Victims and advocates from 25 countries, including India, Nepal, Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Australia, most of whom opposed legalising prostitution, released a joint statement here seeking punishment for "buyers" in sex trade and demanded greater investment in welfare of girls and women from governments.

"There is talk about legalising the prostitution industry in India but those who are seeking to do so have not met or worked with women who have been raped 14 to 15 times in a day and forced to bear with the violence day in and day out," said Indrani Sinha of Sanlaap, a Kolkata-based NGO.

The statement released here after a 3-day conference under the banner Coalition Against Trafficking of Women Asia- Pacific (CATW) said governments should look to remove laws that criminalise and stigmatise those exploited in prostitution when they are the people who are in most need of protection from society and government.

"We will primarily call for the removal of provisions in our laws that criminalise women in prostitution and put provisions that will criminalise the buyers and the business. These laws shall include extradition of traffickers and buyers," the statement said.

For Fatima Nat Dhuniya, a sex worker who was trapped in flesh trade as a child and managed to escape, the thought of legalising prostitution is unthinkable.

"When women in my community and those who had been sex workers earlier heard that the government was seeking to legalise prostitution we decided that we will beat such people up. Don't they think of sisters or daughters at home," a visibly angry Dhuniya told reporters here.

"As long as there are buyers there will not be an end to sex trafficking," said Dhuniya.

The anti-trafficking law (ITPA) punishes victims with jail but has very light fines against buyers of prostituted sex and profiteers.

According to a 2009 report of CBI, there are 1.2 million prostituted children in India today. Traffickers pay between Rs 2000 to Rs 5000 for each child in the village, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

"The survivors are speaking up despite risk of possible stigma and re-trauma indicating that they want the law to be amended on their behalf. They want those who rape them repeatedly to be punished not as revenge but as a deterrent to perpetuation of the sex industry," said Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an NGO which organised the conference.

CATW president Aurora J De Dios said, "This is the first time our survivors are coming together to talk about common issues and challenges that they face and ways to deal with them."


First Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 23:55

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