Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Activist Ruchira Gupta exposes sex trafficking crimes

Posted on March 23, 2015 in News
By Zachary Searles

Activist Ruchira Gupta visited USM last week to speak on her experiences fighting to abolish sex trafficking. She started her career as a journalist and won an Emmy for her documentary The Selling of Innocents which explores the plight of young girls in India being taken from their homes and sold into prostitution to work in brothels.

“We urgently need a new law on trafficking, one which is not based on old British colonial laws,” said Gupta.

The laws created by Parliament such as the Contagious Disease Act are designed to provide disease free women to soldiers fighting in the British army.

Gupta believes that change needs to be made across the globe and not just within a certain country. Part of the problem is that with the advancement of technology, traffickers have become much more skilled at what they do, using websites to lure and auction off women.

There seems to be a trend on the class and gender of people that traffickers prey upon. In almost all cases it is generally women living in developing countries like India and poor, younger girls that were sought after by traffickers. The same holds true in the United States, where most of the women trafficked are poor minorities.

Traffickers would also try to make going to work in a brothel sound appealing by telling these young girls that they would get to go live in a big city and make some money for themselves.

Gupta recounted that the youngest girl she had met that was trafficked was only seven years old. The average ages of victims are between 13 and 15 in the United States and nine and 13 in India.

“The traffickers simply met whatever the demands were by these clients,” said Gupta. “They would actually find these girls and bring them to the brothel.”

Gupta believes that in order for there to be change, the laws have to be targeted towards the traffickers and to punish the clients, because a lot of the time the victim has no choice. She also believes that things need to be done so that the buyer has less power and less choices when he decides to go to the brothel.

In countries such as Norway and Sweden purchasing sex is illegal, not the selling of sex. This means that if a trafficker was to be caught or a brothel was searched, the women would not be punished for what they were being forced to do.

“Those governments understood and recognized that prostitution was an outcome of gender inequality, so the women should not be punished,” said Gupta.

Those laws have put the blame on the traffickers, resulting in a decrease in trafficking for those countries. Now many other countries are also starting to adopt a similar model when they craft laws against trafficking.

There has been some success in trying to bring change. Recently, new laws have been passed against trafficking through lobbying and putting pressure on government.

“It has created a new paradigm with how we deal with trafficking,” said Gupta. “We have shifted the blame from the victim to the perpetrator.”

Prostitution will still occur, Gupta said, as long as there is a buyer. Gupta believes that there needs to be partnerships between governments so that policies and laws can be passed to make a difference and to try and protect women against trafficking.

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