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Northeast girls in metros forced into prostitution: NGO:-

Guwahati | September 15, 2005 8:25:05 AM IST

Gullible young girls from the northeast are being forced into prostitution in the metropolises after being lured by organised syndicates promising them glamorous careers and lucrative jobs, a rights group has said. "The situation is extremely serious with smart operators flooding the northeast hunting for good looking young girls for modelling assignments or jobs in call centres with good salaries," said Hasina Kharbih, chairperson of Impulse NGO Network, a rights group working in rescuing women trafficked from the northeast. "But in reality, many of these women were pushed into the notorious world of prostitution." Impulse activists recently rescued at least four young girls from Mumbai. "The girls were from Meghalaya and Assam and were lured by agents who promised them good modelling roles and handsomely paid jobs in call centres," Kharbih told IANS.

"We were told by these rescued girls that there were more women from the northeast in the flesh trade racket who were trapped with such baits." A new craze for careers in modelling among teenagers in India's northeast region, spurred by television and newspaper advertisements, is being cited as reasons for traffickers wooing unsuspecting girls into their net. "Northeastern girls are generally fair and have good features, akin to Nepali women, who until recently were much sought after by pimps for flesh trading," another rights activist said. "Today northeastern girls are in demand in the flourishing prostitution racket in cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, and even Bangalore and Pune."

Most of these girls, trapped by organised rackets, come from middle class families. "Seedy operators also scout for good looking girls from poor families. We have come across and rescued girls belonging to families living below the poverty line who were sold to the traffickers," Kharbih said. The Impulse network, headquartered at Meghalaya's state capital Shillong, has rescued 12 girls this year from New Delhi and Mumbai - all of them belonging to poor families.

"These girls in the age group of 16 to 18 years were lured in the name of jobs outside and then pushed into prostitution," Kharbih said. Activists of the Impulse network and other rights groups discussed strategies to combat trafficking of girls and women from the northeast at a two-day seminar here.

"There is a need to involve other NGOs and law enforcement agencies, besides support from the common masses, to stop this extremely dangerous trend of women trafficking from the region," Ella Sangma, a victim from Assam who was rescued, said at the seminar. Police in the region admit that trafficking of women is a serious issue. "This is a big problem, but then we face difficulties in busting such rackets due to lack of information of the girls or the people involved in such operations," said Assam Inspector General of Police (Crime) G. Bhuyan. There are no estimates as to how many women are trafficked.

"The number must be in hundreds although more than the numbers the main issue is how to create awareness and stop such things," Kharbih said.