Durbar leads way for UNFPA

A representative from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an international development agency, has come to see the functioning of a self regulatory board formed by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) to stop women trafficking so that it may be replicated in other countries.
Mr Richard Steen, a London-based adviser, would submit the first draft of the documentation project by the end of November to the UNFPA in New York after which it would be published in their journal and also serve as a manual for other self regulatory bodies formed in other countries where the rate of trafficking is very high.
Mr Steen said the DMSC is lauded in western countries for its active role in improvement of health and living condition of sex workers. “The rate of HIV positive people in Kolkata is the lowest when compared to the other metropolitan cities. In our country, police intervention to stop trafficking is seen to have several other adverse effects,” he said. What follows after rescuing women from the clutches of traffickers is their rehabilitation and that seldom happens in case of police intervention. Fear of prosecution often leads women to take more desperate measures. “The self regulatory board could help catch traffickers, help in victim’s rehabilitation and at the same time propagate safe sex,” he added.
Mr Steen would leave for Mysore on Sunday and will also document the functioning of an NGO, Ashodaya, that is a partner organisation of DMSC.
It may be noted that the self-regulatory board is yet to be registered, as prostitution has not been legalized in the country. But since its inception in 1996, the DMSC with its self-regulatory board has rescued more than 500 women. About 84.39 percent of the rescued women were less than 18 years of age.
The self-regulatory board apart from DMSC consists of local councilor or the panchayat representative, a local doctor and a local lawyer.
Any women brought to the red-light area has to go through a screening process by the board in which it is found whether she is underage or have been brought there forcibly. If so, she is sent back to her family.

Soma Basu

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