Who is anyone to empower women?’ were the electrifying words by Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) and BJP leader, that rang across the venue-hall as she highlighted how women are the powerhouses of any family at the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons summit, jointly organised by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Government of India in New Delhi.
Even as the Home Ministries of three countries (India, Bangladesh and Nepal), UNICEF, UNW and Border Security Force – India were represented by notable functionaries, the question in hand was one that requires the urgent attention of luminaries from across government wings, NGOs and civil society: how to curtail and stop human trafficking? India accounts for 4.7% of world human trafficking, even as nearly 45.8 million people are subjected to some or the other form of modern slavery.
On one hand the highly porous Indo-Bangladesh borders is a major source of trafficking, while on the other hand some Chinese entities have begun human trafficking for human organs. The picture is grim and the mantra of ‘Prevention, Protection and Persecution (of culprits)’ needs to be actively worked upon. Today 158 countries have criminalised trafficking, 96 have a National Action Plan to coordinate Government response to trafficking, while 150 countries provide services to victims of modern slavery. Yet a lot needs to be done.
It was a great privilege and honour not only to speak to these dignitaries but also to sign the Joint Declaration by UNODC and UNW, as a representative of STOP (Stop Trafficking and Oppression of Children & Women), on the occasion of the founding of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) platform.