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Penalties should act as deterrent for sex traffickers: Victims

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 5, 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

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 5, 2011 - 23:55

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