NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– Girls escaping deadly anti-Christian violence in India’s volatile state of Orissa face sexual after human traffickers falsely promise them a better life, human rights investigators said Friday, January 14.
At least four girls have been trafficked to India’s metropolis Delhi where they were “sold” to a placement agency ‘Sakhi Maid Bureau’ in Ratla village in the Delhi area, according to advocacy groups All India Christian Council (AICC) and Human Rights Law Network’s Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives.
Two of them were rescued, one managed to return home herself, but at least one remains missing, investigators said. They were among many girls seeking a new life after at least scores of people died in 2008 when Hindu mobs attacked Christians in Orissa’s Kandhamal District, according to investigators.
The violence erupted on August 23, 2008, following the killing of a local Hindu religious leader, Swami Laxamananda Saraswati and four of his followers. Although Maoists claimed responsibility for the attack, Hindus blamed Christians.
The deadly clashes also displaced 50,000 people, many of whom remain afraid to return home, creating a market for human traffickers according to Christian officials. “Human traffickers and placement agents have carefully selected communities and areas which are affected by socio-political and communal violence,” explained AICC spokesman Madhu Chandra.
“They target those who are internally displaced after their homes and villages are destroyed at communal violence with false promises of giving jobs,” he explained.
The advocacy groups revealed that since August they managed to rescue two girls in Delhi, aged 16 and 18, with reluctant support from local police. Police officials allegedly refused to file a complaint against the traffickers. There was no immediate reaction from police.
The Delhi High Court has ordered Delhi Police however to become more active in finding missing girls — many of whom are believed to be Christians — by issuing “missing people advertisements” in local newspapers and appeals on television channels.
Police detained the owner of the controversial Sakhi Maid Bureau, but he was released on bail, AICC said. Despite the investigation, the elder sister of the 16-year-old rescued girl, who is 19, remains missing, investigators said. The names of the girls were not released amid security concerns.
The mother of the 19-year-old girl, Hemanti Mallik, 50, has camped at Delhi for the last six months, saying she is “seeking legal help and justice” for her daughters and the “arrest of the perpetrators” who trafficked them with false promises of jobs.
Mallik told the High Court that her daughters Jyothi, Ranjita, which are not that real names, and two other girls “were sexually abused for six days” by the arrested owner of the placement agency, who was only identified as Mr. Monto. The next court hearing is scheduled on May 23, 2011, trial observers said.
“Human trafficking is serious a threat to humanity all over the world and it is same also for India,” Chandra told BosNewsLife.
His group has set up the North East Support Center & Helpline – an initiative to prevent sexual violence faced by trafficked women in especially Delhi and nearby regions. (With editing by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).