Wednesday, Jun 29, 2022
Outlook.com

No Signs On Road To Hell

Two border districts of Bengal are top hubs of trafficking of girls in India. Even locals aren’t safe.

No Signs On Road To Hell
No Signs On Road To Hell Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee

Evening is descending over Ichhamati, the river flowing serenely along the border between India and Bangladesh that cuts through North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal. Along the bank, on the winding dirt path, two schoolgirls, 16-year-old Nandita and 13-­­year-old Mita, have stepped up on their bicycles’ ped­­als. “We have to rush home before it gets dark,” says Nandita.

In North 24 Parganas, this is more than just routine--it’s a standing instruction from parents worried about their daughters’ safety. It is also part of a lesson taught in almost every school in the vicinity, a mandatory special subject—a course on “how to identify and stay away from human traffickers,” says a girl. Absent in other parts of Bengal, it is unique to  both North and South 24 Parganas districts, and points to an ups­urge of girls from villages being kidnapped.

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