SHILLONG, Nov 14 (IANS): National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma on Tuesday stressed the need to create employment opportunities for women from the northeastern states to restrict trafficking of women.
“False dreams given by traffickers, the internet, financial weakness of the family and no mean to sustain their livelihood in their homes is fuelling trafficking of women from the northeastern region,” she said on the sidelines of an official function here in Meghalaya.
Sharma said there were reports of trafficking of women from the region, who were trapped by traffickers through dubious means.
She underscored the need to create enough employment opportunities in the region’s rural areas so that unscrupulous people are not able to lure unsuspecting victims in search of better opportunities outside the confines of their homes.
“Trafficking (of women), especially from Assam, and also, in certain cases, from Mizoram has come to our notice. They are taken away to work in massage or beauty parlours but are often used for different reasons,” Sharma said.
She said that in some cases, these women were trafficked out of the country.
Stressing that rehabilitation of the rescued women is often a problem, especially with the families refusing to accept them, Sharma said: “There is a need to rehabilitate them by offering them skill training and also by providing them shelter.
“Although there is a perception that women in the northeastern region are better off than their counterparts in the rest of India, females in this part of the world, too, are a disadvantaged lot.”
Earlier addressing a meeting at the North East Council on recommendations of the study on social, economic and political empowerment of women in northeastern states, Sharma said: “Women in the northeast are disadvantaged under the customary practices.
“Women are not seen participating politically. There are few women MLAs and (women) MPs are even rarer. Though economically women are seen working in every sphere, they still are being deprived of the right to land,” she said.
Meanwhile, the report stated that many women of the region are engaged in agricultural activities and earn less than their male counterparts.
“They work in fields which they do not own, because landed property can be owned by only the men in their families. Women working in family fields do not earn any wages for their labour. Here also, it is the man who is in control of the management and income from such farming,” the report said.
It also noted that women cannot own immovable property, like ancestral fields and homesteads, according to prevalent customary laws of many tribes of the region.
“Some women who have no land of their own — widows or single mothers — often go out of their homes to work as daily labourers at construction sites or even in other people’s farms, where they earn less than their male counterparts for the same kind of work and hours,” the report said.
It also revealed that women in the northeast are politically lagging behind their counterparts elsewhere in the country.
“The toughest hurdle being the continued sway of tribal customary laws which intrinsically exclude women’s entry and participation in governance starting from the village levels,” it stated.
“In an already deeply entrenched patriarchal set-up through which these people had been governing themselves, the newly protected and almost un-touchable customary laws only hardened such a mindset.”
As a result, women have not been able to make much headway in wresting any political power for themselves in local, state and centre politics too, it said.
“Ironically, the very same provision which protects the traditional rights of the people, failed to take into account the human, civil and political rights of women of these states — rights which are enshrined and guaranteed in the same Constitution.”
The report also stated that it would only be fair to assume that along with the traditional bias against women entering politics, lack of economic power of women in general has acted as a strong deterrent for many “would-be-legislators”.