Shafiq R Khan


Silence and manipulation on emerging slave community in India

I would suggest you to simply ignore this, it is not a scholarly or informative article its piece of frustration 

I woke up when a foreign reporter wanted me to respond about BJP leader OP dhankar’s controversial statement. Actually I was away from TV and news papers and even internet. My friend was handling my social networking accounts so I was really unaware of the whole episode, so she shared the details that OP dhankar, the leader of BJP said that if BJP comes to power in Haryana they will arrange for marriages of Haryanvi youths to Bihari girls. Shri Dhankar also mentioned that a Bihari BJP politician Sushil kumar Modi is a good friend of him and he can manage all the marriages. And then I gave her a balanced response that he is doing his bit of politics but the scheme may encourage the problem of trafficking and would certainly legitimize already booming trafficking business in the area.

I was really excited to know about responses from civil society and other political parties and woke up and started searching on internet, to my surprise chief of women wing of Congress party condemned it by saying, ‘the statement is somehow supporting trafficking and it will contribute in increase of bride trafficking’,  that clearly means that the Congress leader was aware of the issue of trafficking in the name of marriage yet she never spoke before even when her own party leader and the then minister of women and child development Ms. Krishna Tirath made an statement in parliament that ‘there is no forced marriage and no one is trafficking brides  its inter culture inter region marriages’ (Rajya sabha-15.12.2012 question number 2630 raised by Baishnab parida) and when I came to know about her claim I wrote a detailed mail with many video links where testimonials of bride trafficking victims are available, but the minister never responded to my mail nor her office. And then I wrote some mails to many politicians including congress and BJP leaders and as usual no one ever replied.  
We, atleast I am, not surprised that BJP’s farmer leader’s remark because I witnessed a lot of people normalising or justifying the vice of bride trafficking including civil society organizations, academic institutions as well as mainstream media, so what we can expect from a politician of a right wing orthodox political party?  One must remember here that this politician is very close to our prime minister and he can influence policy level decisions.
The irony of bride trafficking is only that everyone always tries to justify it by every mean. Academic researchers, government or civil society institutions, media or even well know social activists, everyone always see this (bride trafficking) as a result of imbalanced sex ratio and always ignore the pity of bride trafficking victims/survivors. By this argument they always focus on and show their concerns for economic or cultural changes in Haryanvi or Punjabi society but not on the pitiable conditions of those survivors. Researchers and media persons always interview the victims in front of their buyers (holders) , and in this situation girls always show a rosy picture of whole suffering because the victim always consider them (the interviewers) as exploiter like others who buy her or traffic her.

To show the real situation to a Journalist friend CarlGierstorfer I had arranged an Interview with one and the same girl in two different places. First was in the house where she was living and another one was in the house of my local activist and we found drastic difference in her statement. In her own home she said that people were cooperative and she had no food to eat in her native village but here she could eat and live on her own (you will find the same bioline everywhere) but when she reaches our place she showed her anger and said that she was not more than cattle. People abuse her and tease her only because she is a purchased woman.  Many of these girls, who spoke to Journalists or any foreigner (people from out of the village) of their plight were sent (read sold) to another place. I have a lot of names in my mind who were re-sold only because we could not help them in time.

As a result of female foeticide the trade of bride trafficking is becoming a socially approved inter-region marriage, it is nothing but an anti-human thought, which attempts to normalize the criminal practices and trade because the middle class and main stream society has keen interest in whole trafficking phenomenon they always need traffickers, who can provide them a full time cheap cost domestic labourer and some time with one time investment. Most of the people on top positions of media and other research institutions come from these states, who are also enthusiastic of bringing change in their society but unfortunately, this cause never caught their attention and knowingly or unknowingly they try to normalize the issue.    

I really don’t know but there are hundreds of organizations operating from Delhi and NCR who work for women security, safety and participation but they never tried to speak about this heinous crime and they never tried to start their work in these areas which possess highly patriarchal mindset. And most of the heinous crimes against women come into light from this region only: Honour killing, female foeticide, caste or identity based gang rapes, older women hunting or little sophisticated surgical hymen repair. Even if one considers the bride trafficking to be a normal marriage, the worst situation of local women is not beyond imagination. They truly deserve priority, but people always talk on TV programmes without any concrete knowledge of the field, what can one expect of their work on the ground. When workers like me approach them for support they always convince you that there are many other issues on which one should work, as donors would never support any project in economically prosperous state.  

Since 2006 when I decided to start the work against Bride trafficking with singular focus on it, I found myself alone in this difficult path. Government, NGOs, foreign donors and civil society never supported us or started any initiative in the field.
 In the meantime, people always create a myth that they are importing these girls only because they don’t have girls to marry and others are sending their girls for their greed of money or because of poverty but no one ever said that natural disasters and human made disasters are also responsible for trafficking of these girls. The mainstream society always painted that the parents of these girls sell their own daughters, which is truly demonization of the powerless. People should know that the rescue operations conducted for bride trafficking victims are only done in response to complaints made by parents of these girls.  
It is really funny to know that state of Haryana have only three women shelter homes with a capacity of 150 women for all 22 districts but at the same time Government have a total 250 animal shelters for 125 development Blocks. You can easily imagine who the priorities are.     
The region have a long history of importing girls, and that is not only related to sex abuse and exploitation but also associated with bonded labourership which ultimately can be seen as an attempt to create a neo-Dalit community. I have no hesitation in saying that the society of ours, which always kept slaves in the name of social fabric and religious values is now trying to create a new slave community. 
The Girls who are being imported are called Paro (stolen) Molki (purchased) Jugad (arrangement) which clearly reflects their social status and children born from these girls also carries that abusive social status. They don’t have any right in inheritance, they don’t have access to local common properties and in most of case they cannot marry a local girl.
Therefore, the statement of a politician is simply reflection of his basic understanding of his society. If a session court judge, in her judgement can say that “Human trafficking rising due to female foeticide”, what one can expect from a politician who is eyeing on the votes of the masses. Rape of a dalit or minority community girl is not an issue of outrage or panic since the responsible actors of society have taken to normalising this menace.
We the Indian society are truly a biased and hypothetical elitist community and we believe in class based selective conciseness of any cause.
Now we should think and pitch our agenda before the newly formed Government which may listen to us to understand the whole issue and they might open more shelters and other facilities for human beings, they may work to prevent social crimes and every form of violence against women by enabling local government and people’s participation.

Lets hope for Good days   
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