Kolkata: Raising a strong voice against human trafficking – which is an organised crime in India violating basic human rights – young activists, change-makers and minister here on Tuesday urged everyone to be more vocal on such issues and shatter all stereotypes.
“We must keep talking on the subject. When we say prevention is better than cure, we don’t want somebody to be trafficked and then we are trying to show how that person was rescued and rehabilitated. Why at all should it happen,” Shashi Panja, Minister of State, Women & Child Development and Social Welfare said at an event on World Day against trafficking in Persons at American Center Kolkata said.
She said rather than talking about the government initiatives or imposing anything, the change at the grass-root level is important. It makes her feel proud to see the changing mindsets as these days people are more empowered and aware of such issues.
Condemning recent incident at city-based housing society where a college girl was humiliated for wearing shorts while talking to elderly men regarding a plumbing issues, Panja said: “We talk about gender-equality but it is not there in practice”.
Youth activists from the US, Bangladesh, Nepal and India working to combat trafficking and spreading awareness, collectively believes that more and more conversations on these issues will be an effective tool to combat violation of the human rights.
Sumaiya Parvin, hailing from a conservative Muslim family in Kolkata suburbs, revealed how she had left her home as she didn’t want to be married and pursue higher education. Against her family’s wish she kept on studying and is now a certified advocate.
“I wanted to break the stereotype. If girls are made to sit at home, the chances of being trafficked increases as the little girls nurture the curiosity to see the world and are easily lured. So they should be allowed to go out. Today for everyone in my village I am a Hero,” Parvin said.
Atika Ibnat Shafa from Bangladesh believes that one needs to be inspiration for oneself. Nepal’s Swastika Danuwar draws her inspiration from her mother Sunita Danuwar who was sold to a brothel in Mumbai and is now a known social activist.
“My mother has received several threats but she never stopped which made be believe that a girl can be a change,” said the proud daughter.
Bihar’s Vinit Prakash impressed the audience and guests for being the only man on the panel working to combat human trafficking. Prakash who started working as an environment activists felt that it was more important to spread gender-equality in his area.
Carolene Jones from the US who is currently working with a school for a short span said it is never too late to start talking about human rights and empowerment. Delhi University’s Preksha Malhotra believes that youngsters can make very good use of social media to send across their messages and work to help children and victims of trafficking.
Even the minister was impressed with Malhotra’s idea and said she will encourage her daughter to talk about human trafficking on social media.
Three change-makers were felicitated on the occasion.