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'NE women languishing in jails of other big cities'

GUWAHATI: 26-year-old Roshni (name changed) from Arunachal's Tirap was recently released from a prison in Lucknow, with her bail amount being paid by Helping Hands Society, an NGO working for the safety of people from the northeast in New Delhi. She had been arrested in Gomti during a police raid on a spa which was also allegedly running a prostitution racket. Promised a job of a beautician in a high-end parlour there, Roshni was allegedly asked to join as an intern at the spa one day before she was arrested.

However, not everyone is as lucky as Roshni. Hundreds of girls from the northeast who were allegedly trafficked to metro cities are languishing in jails without the knowledge of their families, members of the NGO said.

Robin Hibu, inspector general, joint commissioner and founder of Helping Hands, said, "In many cases, we are able to bail such women out with the help of National Lawyers Forum lawyers. These girls are sent to metro cities by 'hiring companies' and then pushed to various illegal trades forcibly. With no help around, many of them are put behind bars without the knowledge of their parents."

The NGO said it has found many northeast girls and women were recently arrested in
Gwailor, Noida, Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, Lucknow and Bangluru. Most of them were from Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Assam, hired by middlemen for jobs in hospitality and beauty sectors.

"There are cases when some women from Manipur working in a beauty
parlour in Goa were found to be inside prison after being accused of stealing by the employer for allegedly not adhering to their instructions of getting involved in sex trade," an NGO official said.
A memorandum prepared by the NGO, which will soon be placed before the state governments of the northeast, said, "Create a data bank of youths under the labour department, especially females going out of the state for jobs, for monitoring. There should be an active helpline number, email address and a state nodal officer for redress of any exploitation."
Hibu also suggested that the state governments can utilize their state houses in Delhi and other cities for regular interactions with northeast youths working in those cities. "Some officer from these Bhavans should act as youth welfare officer in cities, who can be in touch with these youth by social media. There should be constant monitoring of the placement services," said the top cop, adding that he will soon meet chief ministers of eight northeast states to apprise them about the situation.



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