Turning out to be one of the many benefits of Demonetisation move, trafficking of women and girls for sex work—a Rs20 trillion industry has come to a grinding halt. Rescue workers on the field say the trade has come to a stop with Rs500 and Rs1,000 currency notes withdrawn since the 8 November demonetisation announcement and new currency notes in short supply.
“Trafficking has stopped completely. Girls are usually trafficked from Guwahati in Assam and Jharkhand in the north and Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad in the south. Over the last one month, not a single girl has been trafficked. This is primarily because there is no liquidity left. All transactions used to happen in cash and now employers have no money to pay the middlemen. All the money that changed hands till now is useless,” said Rakesh Senger, a child rights activist with Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO to a media house.
“A 10-12 year old girl costs Rs5 lakh, while girls between the groups of 13 and 15 cost Rs4 lakh. These transactions are all done in cash, in black money. The brothel owners are now caught in a bind because they can’t convert this cash at the banks. Because the new currency is not readily available, clients have stopped going to brothels and the brothel owners have no money to pay the traffickers,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi said.
Senior Delhi Police officers said, on condition of anonymity, random checks on trains bound for Delhi from Bengal, Assam, and Bihar, failed to unearth trafficked girls.
“Black money is the backbone of the trafficking industry in India. At the moment that structure has been fractured by demonetisation. It is a matter of time before the new currency is back in the system and the trade picks up. We have approached the PM and informed him of this situation as well,” Satyarthi added.