P. Sujatha Varma

The malaise mostly prevalent in remote villages

Vigil to be intensified in villages to nab the traffickers

Panel will have 16 members, including the village sarpanch

VIJAYAWADA: Constitution of vigilance committees in villages is the latest tool of the Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (APSACS) and the State Women and Child Welfare Department, which have joined hands with the UNDP-TAHA (Prevention for Trafficking and HIV/AIDS in women and girls) project to combat the increasing menace of girl trafficking.

Rattled by the rapid pace at which the menace is assuming the proportion of a social malaise, the two wings of the Government have decided to nip the problem in the bud by intensifying the vigil in villages, which have proved to be the target areas for traffickers who trap young and ambitious poverty-ridden girls.

Recent surveys have revealed that trafficking in girls or women mostly take place in remote villages, which have access to national highways while towns and cities serve as transit points for the traffickers.

Enticing tactics

Realising the need to check trafficking by educating young girls in villages against falling prey to the enticing tactics of unscrupulous elements, it is being planned to create at the grass roots an active panel of people representing various walks of life. The plan envisages identification and appointment of persons to the panel and imparting training to them.

The committee will have 16 members, including the village sarpanch, a ward member or MPTC member or ZPTC member, a headmaster or a teacher, an Anganwadi worker, a self-help group member, president of the local mothers’ committee, youth committee member, adolescent girls’ association member, a village elder or a freedom fighter, police personnel, a media representative, an advocate or a para-legal worker, a member of a local NGO, a member of Asha Mitra, an education volunteer (Prerak) and, if possible, a person who survived trafficking.

In a catalogue jointly published by the APSACS, UNDP-TAHA and the Vijayawada-based NGO Vasavya Mahila Mandali, the Government has prescribed a set of do’s and don’t’s for the vigilance committee members. It says that the members must meet at least once every month and make changes in their strategies depending on the circumstances in their respective village. The committees should maintain minutes book and each member must have important telephone numbers like the local police personnel, child line and help line. The committee should maintain a register containing names and photographs of the traffickers which will be displayed at the village panchayat office. It is the responsibility of the committee members to educate vulnerable sections, the catalogue says.