Rehabilitation of the victims is a tough task

Dr P Balamba of the Prajwala rehabilitation centre.

Victims of trafficking need a lot of psychological support to recover from the trauma that they have undergone,” said Dr P Balamba, a gynaecologist and obstetrician, with an experience of over five decades. She is one of the governing body members of Prajwala, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) located in Mankhal village of Rangareddy district on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Some of the rescued children from Yadadri have been provided accommodation in this organisation run by social worker Sunitha Krishnan.

Dr Balamba said that the children who were sexually exploited shiver when they see a man in the vicinity. “Their scars are so deep that Prajwala does not recruit male employees in the rehabilitation centre. We (doctors) don’t identify them as victims of sexual abuse,” she said, adding that treating them as normal children helps in their speedy recovery. After they finish fifth standard, the children are generally enrolled into regular schools to facilitate their integration into the society.

“A few children rescued from earlier sexual abuse cases have even completed MBBS and BPharm. Rehabilitation becomes vital as most of the victims are from marginalised families,” she said. However, along with psychological treatment, regular medical treatment is also needed as many of the residents at the shelter are infected with HIV.

“Many of the customers believe that having sex with minor girls helps them regain lost potency. Many truck drivers visit these brothels close to the highways believing that involving in a sexual act will cut down body heat,” Dr Balamba said, throwing light on the reasons for an increase in the number of young girls getting caught in the deadly web.

Families won’t accept

According to Malini Dhurjati, a social worker who has made short films on girl child trafficking, the families of the girls are generally reluctant to accept the victim fearing that they may be ostracised. “Sometimes, it is difficult to reunite them with the family as the members might be traffickers themselves,” she said.

Sunitha Krishnan mentioned about the rescue children of Yadadri in a recent article. “Till now, 15 children have been rescued, all of them aged from 4 to 11 years. All of them are either sold by parents or kidnapped by traffickers. They were found in brothels run by ‘Dommara’ women, a community that practices prostitution as a traditional livelihood. Interestingly, these women were sending their own children to good private schools and were grooming these kidnapped or bought children for commercial sexual exploitation or prostitution,” she wrote.

“My fingers stumble and I am numbed for a moment as I see pictures of these little ones on my WhatsApp. For a minute, I give up on writing this piece, too disturbed. My counsellors tell me there are burn and scratch marks all over their bodies. One of the traffickers confessed that they would give hormonal injections of estrogen and oxytocin to preempt early maturity. Does anybody understand how many months or years it will take to actually heal their emotional scars?”

Delayed compensation

A recent roundtable consultation on Immoral Traffic Prevention Act expressed concern over the delayed compensation to victims of human trafficking in general. The law provides victims of trafficking compensation under Government Orders (GO) 9 and 28 by legal service authorities and Department of Women Development and Child Welfare respectively. While the GO 9 entitles victim with a compensation of Rs 50,000, the GO 28 entitles them to Rs 1 lakh compensation. Mamatha Raghuveer of Tharuni, an NGO that works with adolescent girls, said that procedural delays take a lot of time. She informs that Rs 20,000 is given when the FIR is filed and Rs 50,000 when the chargesheet is filed and the remaining amount is given after the completion of the case. “The chargesheet and other documents have to be submitted by the police to the Department of Women and Child Welfare, or legal service authorities who in turn have to collect signatures from the collector,” she said at the round table. The data presented at the meeting shows that out of the 720 child trafficking cases in Hyderabad, which are generally booked under POCSO Act in the last six years, only 198 have received compensation.

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