‘Girls sold, women raped’ to settle debts in Rajasthan; NHRC issues notice to govt
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the Rajasthan government after media reports brought it to light that girls in rural areas of the state were auctioned on stamp papers and women raped at the behest of village kangaroo courts to settle disputes.
Issuing a notice to the state’s Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police (DGP), the NHRC asked for a reply within four weeks.
Hindi Daily Dainik Bhaskar had reported that people in places such as Bhilwara often approach the village caste councils to settle disputes instead of approaching the police. These caste council often order that girls be sold to recover money in case of a financial dispute or their mothers be raped.
In a statement issued in this regard, the NHRC quoting media reports, said that these girls are sent to Mumbai, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and even abroad where they are sold as sex slaves and subjected to physical abuse and sexual assault.
“Reportedly, whenever there is a dispute between the two parties which specifically involves financial transactions and loans etc the girls aged between 8-18 are auctioned to recover money. These girls are then sent to Mumbai, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and even foreign countries and subjected to physical abuse, torture, sexual assault in slavery. The media reports have documented the ordeal of many victims of such horrendous crimes,” the NHRC said in its release.
The NHRC likened the crime to the slavery of women and girls in Syria and Iraq.
Citing the example of one such transaction in Bhilwada, the Dainik Bhaskar report said a man was ordered by a ‘caste panchayat’ to sell his sister to settle a debt of ₹15 lakh and was again forced to sell his 12-year-old daughter when the debt was still not cleared.
The report said another man was forced to sell his daughter and his house for ₹6 lakh for the treatment of his wife, who eventually died. The girl was taken to Agra and then sold thrice. She became pregnant four times.
Quoting cases from the report, the NHRC in its notice to the Chief Secretary of Rajasthan and Director General of Police, demanded a detailed report on the issue along with action taken report. The commission also sought a document on proposed measures to curb the crime within four weeks.
The NHRC said the report should mention how the government plans to ensure the functioning of the Gram Panchayat in line with constitutional provisions to prevent caste-based system from affecting human rights and the right to dignity of girls and women in the state.
The commission has also entrusted its rapporteur Umesh Kumar Sharma to inspect the affected areas by such practices and submit a comprehensive report on the matter within three months.