Special Correspondent

UN programme to be implemented with help of AIDS Control Society, NGOs

The project will be implemented in nine districts AIDS awareness to be enhanced Economic, social and political status of women to be improved

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu will be among the 11 States that are part of the United Nations Development Programme's project to tackle trafficking in women and children and HIV/AIDS.

To be implemented along with the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society and other non-governmental organisations, the project will promote multi-sectoral responses, including improved awareness of HIV/AIDS, strengthening networks to stop trafficking and improving the economic, social and political status of women and children.

Manu Prakash, Project Officer, HIV and Human Resources Development Network, UNDP, says more girls are being drawn into commercial sex work, with those in the12-14 age group being the prime target.

The project will be implemented in nine districts, including Chennai, Kancheepuram, Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Villupuram, Kanyakumari and Namakkal, according to TNSACS project director S. Vijayakumar.

He was speaking at the inaugural function of a four-day `leadership for results' training programme. It will be held in three phases and is the precursor to the project to combat the trafficking. About 100 representatives from the departments of Health, Social Welfare and Police, and media personnel drawn the nine districts will be trained in taking forward the programme.

Project director, Chennai Corporation AIDS Control Society, K. Manivasan, laments that despite periodic reviews at the district level to curb trafficking, the problem persists. Unless civil society joins in the effort, it will be impossible to achieve a breakthrough.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mylapore, A. Arumugasamy, says in 2004, a shift took place in the manner in which the police handle cases under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act. Instead of looking at the women as perpetrators of crime, they are being considered the victims and efforts made to rehabilitate them.

Wherever possible they are restored to their families. This has led to a fall in the number of women being trafficked to Chennai.

Xavier Christonayagam, Collector of Namakkal, says a multi-sectoral approach seems to be working in reducing trafficking.