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Photos: Promised jobs, Northeast women face identity theft and trafficking

Updated: Mar 13, 2018 13:36 IST

A girl who was a victim of trafficking and identity theft outside her home in Manipur. Unregistered placement agencies in states such as Manipur and Mizoram are sending women to Southeast Asian and Gulf countries, taking advantage of the porous India- Myanmar border. The physical resemblance between people on both sides of the border makes identity switches easy. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

A Manipuri girl who was rescued from Yangon in 2017 at home with her mother. A promise of employment --as a housemaid or babysitter, with food and accommodation, in Singapore, Thailand or China while earning 500 Singapore dollars a month-- is irresistible for both the parents and girls. The network usually involves three sets of agents – one in India, the other in Myanmar and the last in the destination country. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

During a language training session, Helen (name changed) realised that the purpose of learning Burmese was so that a fake passport could be made for her. “I was not comfortable with the idea. My name, parents’ names, home address…they would change everything,” she said. On September 8, 2017, with a sim card left by another girl, she contacted the police in Manipur, thus making her and seven other girls’ extradition from Yangon possible. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

Girls from Manipur are usually taken via Moreh to Tamu in Myanmar (using this bridge) while girls from Mizoram are taken through Zokhawthar village. A thriving market on both sides of the border and a visa-free movement regime ensures no one gets suspicious. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

Lamzakap Simte said his daughter Esther who left home in April 2017 contacted him in January and expressed a desire to return. He mustered courage to register an FIR but the police said that since she had a new identity, repatriation was difficult. Chinneihlam Gangte, an officer, said that this kind of trafficking has been happening since 2012. “We can only act if a case is registered. Parents are scared,” Gangte said. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

The agents convince parents that they are from a government-recognised agencies, says Hasina Kharbhih, chairperson of Impulse NGO Network. “But most of them are not. Agencies have to pay a huge fee, running into lakhs, for government recognition, and most of them want to save this money. So there is no accountability and the girls are trapped,” she said. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

A grocery store is seen at Tamu town along the Moreh friendship border in Manipur. It is a well-oiled system, says L Pishak Singh, secretary, New Life Foundation, Manipur: “The conviction rate is very low. Some victims of trafficking also go on to become agents.” One such is Esther Lalpianmawii, who started recruiting girls after returning home. At least 40 girls were sent to South-East Asia through her.” (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

Back in Aizwal, for Nancy’s 17-year-old daughter, the prospect of working in a foreign country proved too lucrative to let down. But even as the truth is discovered, the stigma associated with trafficking makes reconciliation difficult. “It will not bring our child back,” Nancy said. One reason why the Anti Human Trafficking Unit in Mizoram doesn’t have a single case registered. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

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