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West Bengal Police Rescue Women from sex traffickers, Raising Funds to help them Make a New Life

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A 16-year-old girl stands inside a protection home on the outskirts of New Delhi, Nov. 9, 2012. She was rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), a charity which rescues victims of bonded labor. In the state of West Bengal, police officers are helping rescued women to make a new life. VOA
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Police in the Indian state of West Bengal are going beyond the call of duty by raising funds for the women they rescue from sex traffickers to help them get back on track.

“The girls are hardly literate, have no access to bank loans, and government schemes are not enough to sustain them in the long run,” said police officer Chandra Sekhar Bardhan, who is spearheading the program in eastern India. “We had to do something, even though it did not fall in the realm of our duties.”

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The scheme, the first of its kind, began this month, with 22 rescued women singled out for rehabilitation. Police then hope to reach out to 100 more women and create a model to replicate across the region.

Police tailor the aid to the individual women, asking firms to fund their needs as an act of corporate social responsibility. One of the women in the first group wants to set up a sewing business, another to drive her own taxi — anything rather than return to a life of poverty and unemployment.

Green pasture for traffickers

Of an estimated 20 million commercial sex workers in India, campaigners estimate that 16 million women and girls are the victims of sex trafficking. They are mostly trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labor and child marriage.

The South 24 Parganas district where the project began has seen a steady rise in crime against women, with police recording a jump of more than 80 percent in the number of abductions between 2010 and 2013.

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“Due to poverty and backwardness, the area has always been a green pasture for traffickers,” said Subhasree Raptan, coordinator of nonprofit Gorabbose Gram Bikas Kendra, which helps trafficked victims and is supporting the pilot project.

Raptan said the problem grew far worse after cyclone Aila in 2009, displacing more than a million people in the region.

No job, no chance

When victims are rescued from traffickers, they usually return to poverty, a dysfunctional family life and no job.

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Work is key to a new life, and the first group of women include aspiring seamstresses, two women who want to run a stationary shop and another who wants to drive her own taxi.

“I did not know anything about the extent of human trafficking until I was posted to this region and came across the case of a 14-year-old victim, who had been trafficked, abused and dumped in a hospital,” said Bardhan, the policeman leading the project. “Now the program will run as long as the problem persists.” (VOA)

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It’s not what you wear, but the way you wear it

Men lack the enzyme which processes self-awareness, which is why we think we look good in Speedos

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A lot depends upon what we wear and how we carry it. Wikimedia Common
A lot depends upon what we wear and how we carry it. Wikimedia Common

Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work.

I expected my wife to veto the idea, but she was okay with it, saying: “It’s not what you wear that counts, but whether you can carry it off.”

Mind you, this was a phone conversation and so she couldn’t see what I was wearing. In the event, going to work in a killer clown outfit was not as bad as it might have been, and the fake bloodstains on the costume proved advantageous. Fellow passengers quickly gave me a seat on the bus — actually, a whole block of seats.

Also Read: Get quirky with your shoes

The main (and possibly only) advantage of marriage for guys is that we are given full-time aides (“wives”) who generally prevent us going out looking too ridiculous. Men lack the enzyme which processes self-awareness, which is why we think we look good in Speedos.

Proof: In my true-crime file is a report about a criminal fugitive on the run in Japan who disguised himself in a girls’ sailor suit school uniform. Since he was a tall man with massive shoulders, he managed to evade detection for only minutes.

Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work. Wikimedia Commons
Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work. Wikimedia Commons

Another true story: Last year, a pair of bank robbers decided to dress as women to scope out a bank in Thomasville, Florida. The result was the opposite of what they expected: They became the centre of attention, of course.

It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman — good taste, and the ability to walk with our feet clamped in instruments of torture known as “lady’s shoes”.

There’s one exception which proves my point. In November last year, the coach of the Thailand women’s kabaddi team was dismayed to find out that males were banned from attending women’s sports events in Iran, where his team was playing. So he wrapped his head in a female scarf and marched straight in.

Also Read: Why Do People Get Aggressive After Drinking?

He fooled nobody but correctly judged that the women would be too nice to throw him out. Smart guy.

Our UK correspondent shared a sad news item about a group of men who raised money for their local hospital by dressing as nurses and pushing a bed around town. The hospital refused to accept the cash as they said it was considered politically incorrect for men to dress as nurses these days.

It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman. Wikimedia Commons
It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman. Wikimedia Commons

This seems unfair, as I have seen marathon runners dressed as bananas, dinosaurs and Q-Tips without complaint from fruit sellers, palaeontologists or people who like to poke things in their ears.

But the political issues surrounding women’s clothes are complex. In 2011 someone organised a “slutwalk” in Canada. This involved scantily-clad females marching down the road with protest banners. When the Slutwalk arrived in Asia, the women were fully covered up and many of the marchers were male; so the event missed the point, a bit like the Animal Rights Barbecue that a friend of mine once tried to organise.

Also Read: 7 Unfailing Ways To Impress Your Lady Love & Swoon Her Off Her Feet

Anyway, like my wife says, it’s not what you wear but how you wear it. By the way, I look great in a Speedo. (IANS)

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)