Banchara community: Is bulldozing of flesh trade the answer ?
Neemuch : This Sunday, a major administrative initiative was brought to a forceful completion when the district administration of Neemuch along with Police force swung into action at Jaitpura, Rawatpura and Dulakheda on the Neemuch-Manasa road in western Madhya Pradesh (central India) and demolished the shelters and shanties of an entire Banchara community which has lived off prostitution and flesh trade for generations.
The bulldozing of the Banchara shelters has brought accolades to the district collector, whose this one act has been described as ‘Collector ki Dabangai’ (Read – fearless and daring administrator) by a section of the media.
Dozens of houses have been bulldozed and many shanties have been reduced to the ground in an attempt to halt the flesh trade business which is an active occupation of women folk and young girls of this Banchara community. It is estimated that around 2000 young and teenage girls are actively prepared for flesh trade by their own mothers. Some of these girls are even kidnapped at a young age and pushed into flesh trade. A tradition of passing on the tricks of this infamous profession from one generation to to the next has been carried on from mother to daughter in the Banchara community.
The Banchara girls were thrown into the open for the entire night that followed the demolition process. Dawn, however, woke up with the detailing of events, giving rise to pertinent queries like – was this really an act of pure dare and conviction ? The manner in which the Banchara girls were left without shelter is obviously a violation of their human right. Notwithstanding the fact that the business of prostitution is illegal, questions arise: Who gave the power to the district authorities and the Police to bulldoze the Banchara shelters? Was a proper notice delivered before the demolition? Was this preceded by a deadline for demolition?
The latest action against flesh trade by the Neemuch district authorities makes them accountable. They will have to disclose what concrete steps had been taken to rehabilitate those who were bulldozed and thrown on the road making them more vulnerable.
Unfortunately, the stranded, very young sex workers have been thrown open on the highway, which is flooded with truckers, plying across states, which itself poses as a potential market for these young girls who would get forcefully transported into cities and again get dangerously traded for the same act, which punished them thus. These girls, caught in the flesh trade due to circumstances beyond their control, have become victims of a hasty, incomplete, forceful act? The big question is what about their rehabilitation and welfare?
The action by the district authorities calls for an investigation because it does suggest that the administration and police had crossed its mandate by not charting out and implementing a rehabilitation programme prior to such a hasty demolition, which has left the girls more vulnerable. They now stand further exposed to the same profession.