Link to Express India article.
Kolkata,December 17:Nearly 20 per cent of clients of the Indian sex market is from the US and trafficking of women in that country has surpassed the slave trade existed in the early 19th century, noted American feminist and founder of ‘Ms’ magazine Gloria Steinem said on Monday.
“Twenty per cent of people who buy sex from India are Americans,” Steinem said during an interaction with women’s rights activists at the American Centre in Kolkata.
A board member of American Anti-Slavery group, Steinem said trafficking of women in the US has grown at a faster pace than the slave trade of the 1800s, due to modern transport facilities.
“It is easier to bring in girls than drugs.”
Stating that one out of eight women in the US were rape victims, Steinem, co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, said the government there should take serious action to prevent trafficking of women.
“The cult of masculinity was cutting the life span of men. It is to prove their masculinity that they go out to wars and get killed,” she claimed.
To prove her point, the author of Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions cited the example of Mohammed Atta, the prime accused in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre.
“Since childhood, Atta was insulted by his father and told his two sisters were “better men” than him. He developed a dislike for women so much so that he had prohibited his body to be touched by women after his death. It was to prove his masculinity that he went and attacked the World Trade Centre,” she said.
Ruchira Gupta, founder of anti-trafficking NGO ‘Apne Aap’ which co-hosted Steinem, advocated that the proposed amendment to the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act should include provisions for charging criminal cases against pimps and penalization and rehabilitation of sex buyers.
Citing a report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which said that trade in humans, was the third largest after arms and drugs, she said, “the demand for prostituted sex is growing. The kingpin is part of an organized human trade.”
Gupta, who had played a direct role in the passage of the UN protocol on Trafficking, said that although there was a worldwide movement against trafficked sex, the only way to address the problem was to create deterrents to the demand.
Quoting a National Human Rights Commission report, she said that most consumers of prostituted sex were educated and had wives and families. “It has been seen that the men who go for prostituted sex are also wife-beaters.”
In India most of the trafficking victims were from the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and the backward classes, she said.