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NHRC seeks report from West Bengal govt on efforts to aid victims of Sonagachi red light area

ANI | Updated: Jan 31, 2021 19:18 IST

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], January 31 (ANI): The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Sunday directed the Chief Secretary of West Bengal to submit a detailed report on the policy framed to "check and prevent" the sex-trade and brothels in Sonagachi area in Kolkata within the next 10 weeks.
The NHRC also directed the Secretary of Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal to expedite the work of conducting a survey along with Indian Institute of Science, over the conditions of victims of sex-trade in Sonagachi, from social, legal and health points of view, and submit the report latest by March 11.
The NHRC passed the order acting on a petition by noted human rights activist and Supreme Court lawyer, Radhakanta Tripathy on the plight of trafficked or other-wise engaged sex workers in Sonagachi, the largest red-light area in Asia, situated in Kolkata.
In his petition, Tripathy alleged that due to the inaction and negligence of state mechanism, women, even minor girls, have been suffering from sexual abuse and brutal rape. "The Government Authorities fail to keep surveillance and do the needful for a permanent solution over the issue that has been continuing for decades in the area," he said.
Seeking intervention of the NHRC, the petitioner sought for 'independent impartial investigation' of the matter.

Pursuant to the directions of the NHRC, the Commissioner of Kolkata Police, in his report stated that extensive search was made by the police to trace out the victims and, a strict vigil and close watch is maintained throughout the year over Sonagachi area to prevent human trafficking as well as sexual exploitation.
"Local Police Station and Detective Department of Kolkata Police also record cases as per provision of Immoral Trafficking and Prevention Act (ITP) Act at Sonagachi Area," Police Commissioner said.
The report further revealed that Kolkata Police including women helpline, childline are the helpline for combating human tracking to prevent the crime, and awareness programmes were also conducted at different places by the Kolkata Police to make people aware and to combat human tracking.
In its report, the Secretary Department of Women and child development and social welfare, the government of West Bengal stated in detail about the steps to deal with the issue of human tracking.
In his rejoinder, Tripathy stated that had the state government taken sincere measures, Sonagachi would not become infamous as the largest area in Asia for flesh trade, human trafficking and for running brothels. "The plight of the girls and women engaged in sex work in the area, the condition of their children is immensely miserable," he said.
Tripathy further requested the NHRC to send its own team of officials or Special Monitor for in-depth investigation of the issue.
He also sought for a direction from the NHRC for details of the policy framed to prevent such types of sex-trade/brothel in Sonagachi and to submit the action taken report on the compliance of judgement of the Supreme Court in case of Budhadev Karmaskar against West Bengal government. (ANI)