Sale of girls
The bitter truth about Himachal Pradesh
THE issue of the reported sale of girls in the Transgiri area of Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh figured in the Assembly on Monday. The normal reaction of any responsible government to such reports will be to order an investigation and take appropriate action to check human trafficking, if any. However, while an official investigation is still in progress, the Chief Minister has refused to face the unpleasant reality. While not denying the occurrence of such incidents, he has called the report exaggerated. The State Commission for Women and the Sirmaur SP have confirmed that such shady transactions take place in the area. The disagreement is only on numbers. The matter, as Mr Virbhadra Singh has rightly emphasised, is very sensitive. It should not be used for scoring political points or to cause embarrassment to anyone.
Trafficking in girls is not unheard of in this region. In Punjab and Haryana men outnumber women. So brides are bought and brought from outside. In April last year mediapersons saw seven migrant girls lined up for sale in Maghania village in Budhlada subdivision of Punjab’s Mansa district. Again, in August last year there were reports of sale of girls in Ferozepur district and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission took a suo motu notice of the media reports for follow-up action.
Even if there are isolated incidents of girls being married to aged or mentally challenged persons in exchange of money, these are serious enough to warrant a thorough inquiry and preventive action. Such incidents are a blot on any civil society. Police action alone will not be enough. Since deals are struck with parent’s consent and girls are hardly in a position to protest, many such cases go unreported. A social awareness campaign needs to be launched with the help of NGOs. Since poverty is the root cause of such incidents in Sirmaur district, an over-all development of the area is required.