Sex trafficking in India is focus of recent campus lecture

Posted Feb. 16, 2007

Sarada Rajeeva described the horrors of the illegal trading of people before about 50 University of La Verne community members who filled the West Dining Room Tuesday.

She described this business as a global problem where people are purchased and sold for prophet. Friends, relatives, strangers and even immigration authorities are all procurers in this industry and have made it what it is today – a booming business.

“Trafficking involves production, marketing, finance and human resource,“ said Rajeeva. “It is a low investment business…but it’s a high prophet business."

Rajeeva is the author of the book “Scarlet Daughters of South Asia “ and is a professor at Cochin University in India as well as a consultant clinical psychologist who specializes in women.

The lecture was an overview of what horrors women, in counties such as India, Bangladesh and Nepal, face in terms of sex slavery and trafficking.

Illegal immigrants, underage women, the poor and illiterate are just some of the many people targeted in this trade. These women and children are taken away from their families through kidnapping and deceit. Some are even sold by their own husbands and families.

Once they enter the trade these women will be forced into various different areas such as prostitution and mail-order brides.

“This is the issue that expresses how women are devalued in society," said Zandra Wagoner, assistant professor of philosophy and religion and the University of La Verne and the organizer of this lecture. “There are so many women and girls who are deeply affected by this."

The victimized women in this business suffer from many mental and psychological illnesses as well as unplanned pregnancies and STDs. They become social outcasts and loose their sense purpose.

“They don’t bother about hygiene because they don’t feel they have a clean body therefore they don’t want to cover it with clean clothing," Rajeeva added.

The essence of this lecture was awareness. Spreading the word about this horrible industry is important for our society as a whole.

The was standing room only in the dining room that afternoon, and student reaction to the lecture was a mixture of shock and concern for the issue.

“I was really surprised about what she had to say," said Kelsy Franklin, a senior multimedia major. “It is crazy to think that human trafficking is an actual organized business and it is good that people like her are spreading awareness."

This lecture showed how lucky women are to live in the U.S where they have no fears of being dragged into this awful trade. However, one point that was brought up was the old idea of women as property, and this is something that even Americans can relate to.

“The devaluation of women is alive and well; and even though we don’t have such blatant forms in the U.S., we still have practices that devalue women," said Wagoner. According to her, the tradition of women taking the last name of their husbands is a remnant from the idea of women as property.

Rajeeva spoke of the importance of being optimistic about this issue and how recognizing it as an issue is the first step to finding its resolution.

For these enslaved women, simply singing the song “we shall overcome” during one of Rajeeva’s visits with them made a difference and perhaps brought hope to their lives.

“We have to take care of society by taking care of them,” said Rajeeva. “Women and children are precious social assets.”

Katherine Hillier can be reached at khillier@ulv.edu.

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