India’s trafficking industry loses over Rs20trillion due to demonetization
New Delhi: Demonetisation has brought the trafficking of women and girls for sex work—a Rs20 trillion industry—to a grinding halt, studies and rescue workers said.
Rescue workers on the field said the process of trafficking of women is usually completed by November, after which trafficked women and girls are transported to various parts of the country to be sold to brothels, placement agencies and as child brides. With Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes withdrawn since the 8 November demonetisation announcement and new currency notes in short supply, the trade has hit a dead end, they said.
“Trafficking has stopped completely. Girls are usually trafficked from Guwahati in Assam and Jharkhand in the north and Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad in the south. Over the last one month, not a single girl has been trafficked. This is primarily because there is no liquidity left. All transactions used to happen in cash and now employers have no money to pay the middlemen. All the money that changed hands till now is useless,” said Rakesh Senger, a child rights activist with Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO.
In what is one of India’s biggest organized crime rackets, traffickers usually peg the “cost” of a woman or girl at Rs2.5 lakh, made up of the cost of transporting her, paying off local politicians, authorities and police officials and the ultimate cost of grooming her.
However, the actual cost incurred stands at around Rs20,000. The remaining Rs2.3 lakh is pocketed by the trafficker, rescue workers said.
A study by Global March against Child Labour, a network of trade unions, teachers and civil society organisations, pegs the annual figure in India at a little over Rs18.6 trillion.
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