Bundi (Rajasthan): Young girls of the Kanjar community, a nomadic tribe in Rajasthan, are pushed into prostitution by their parents before they attain adulthood, an exploitative tradition which authorities are now taking up cudgels against.
Under the age-old tradition called ‘Chaari Pratha‘, parents sell off their daughters for lakhs of rupees and at several times even mortgage them for a specific period of time.
Those raising their voice against the custom incur the wrath of ‘Panch‘ or 5 village elders of the community who impose heavy fines amounting to lakhs.
Seeking to put an end to the ‘pratha‘ or custom, the district legal literacy cell and anti-human trafficking cell in Rajasthan’s Bundi district on Wednesday held a meeting with around 150 community members, including women and youth, from three Kanjar-dominated villages – Ramnagar, Shankarpura and Mohanpura.
Efforts would be initiated to take action against the ‘Panch‘ of the community and to check Chaari Pratha, said Kaniz Fatima, the Circle In-charge at the anti-human trafficking cell of Bundi district.
With women sold off, mostly in states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, a large number of males of the socially downtrodden and ostracized community are forced to remain bachelors, the official said.
Ms Fatima said measures would be taken to ensure the marriage of such youths under government schemes.
At least eight women forced into prostitution, most of them underage, were recently rescued from Shankarpura and Bundi, Ms Fatima said. The rescued girls had been sold for lakhs of rupees by their parents and some of them were even sold twice or thrice, she said.
The fine imposed by the Panch always amounts to lakhs, Ms Fatima said, making them richer and more powerful.
Jyoti, a BA student from the community, said that people can be brought to the mainstream if action is taken to check the exploitative practice and ‘Panch‘ are suitably punished.
According to Chaya Saxena, a counsellor at the women security cell of the women police station in the area, awareness for education and legal remedies is absent among the Kanjar community. She said the Panch in the Kanjar community are stronger than the Panch of Khap Panchayat in Haryana.
Ms Fatima said that similar meetings would be organised time to time in areas that is populated with Kanjar community.