The National Commission for Women (NCW) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (Unifem) on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to combat trafficking in girls and women and “feminisation” of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Under the MoU, the two agencies will engage in developing strategies to reduce all forms of violence among women, including policy dialogues to end the trafficking in women in India which would ultimately lead to creating public awareness.

The two organisations would render all assistance to complaints relating to women abandoned by their non-resident Indian spouses, including networking with non-governmental organisations in India and abroad and recommending the government on any policy or issue relating to NRI marriages.

To begin with, the NCW, in partnership with Unifem, proposes to reach out to women and address their vulnerability in the source areas from where they are trafficked.

‘Prevention mechanisms’

“We have identified three States — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal — with an overarching goal to eliminate trafficking by 2015 and create institutionalised prevention mechanisms to stop trafficking at the source through community action at the panchayat-level,” NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said.

The mechanisms will be created at the panchayat-level community-owned centres of action against trafficking and HIV/AIDS. More than 600 women and girls will also be trained in entrepreneurship for sustainable livelihood.

Annie F. Stenhammer, Regional Programme Director, Unifem South Asia, said women were primarily trafficked from rural areas where there was a dearth of institutionalised prevention mechanisms. The programme is an attempt to bridge the gap and make prevention services accessible and eventually institutionalised at the zilla and panchayat-level.

“This programme seeks to get to the root of changing attitudes so that communities act as change agents and bridge the gap and gender-based violence of women,” Ms. Stenhammer added.

Under the MoU, efforts would be made to re-visit existing government programmes to include women in difficult situations to make them economically independent.

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