A call for awareness: Mizoram tangled in the web of Spa’s

The total number of job seekers recorded in the live register at the Employment Exchange of Mizoram is 36,047 as of June 2016. Out of these only 154 are unskilled with the rest being high school pass outs, graduates and experts at various lines. This figure only accounts for the registered unemployed, add to that the number of unregistered unemployed and one might be even more astonished. Taking these figures into view, it is of no surprise that middle school, high school pass outs and graduates who have no room to specialise in their skill areas go out of the state to earn their bread.

 

Lately, the leaders of the Mizo Welfare Association’s in the metropolitan cities have their hearts beating fast with any unknown number calling on their phone. This owes to the fact that atleast 9 Mizo’s have been arrested by the police in the past 5 months.  Nine Mizo youth who stepped out of the state’s boundaries looking to make a living in the metropolitan in hopes of supporting their folks back home. These youth which included graduates and high school pass outs were arrested under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act 1956 citing punishment for living on the earnings of prostitution.

 

According to the preliminary findings by a doctorate student who is currently doing a research on Human Trafficking in Mizoram, the majority of the youth arrested had abstained from such illegal sexual acts but were nonetheless taken in police custody due to the negative reputation of the workplace. These youth are employed at day spas which unknown to them run illegal sexual activities, she said. In some unfortunate cases, youth are lured by the owners with money and other assurances even saying they will be assigned their own lawyers so it is advisable that young naive youth are not sent to cities to work unless they are mature enough to decide for themselves said the researcher. She said the majority of those employed are assumed to be from BPL families with them being the sole supporter of the family.

 

A certain Welfare Association leader in one such metropolitan said, I had to go to the court late at night as one of our members was in trouble and the judge questioned if I was helping them out because I was a pimp. While the associations are ready to help those facing hardships, the court proceedings are rather complex and once it turns into a court case, there is little that can be done. It is required that the relatives of these people appear at the judicial court with Identification documents.

 

The Social Welfare Department of Mizoram also take whatever steps they can to help get these youth out of trouble. An officer from the department said, while we are not hesitant to help, the process is rather long and by the time we can get them out of the vigilant home, sometimes they have spent more than 3 months in such home where around 80 people are made to share two bathrooms. The Social Welfare Department has to contact a recognised NGO in the city to meet with the victim and arrange the necessary papers and also, notify the court that the particular NGO is authorised to help the victim.

 

At this moment, it is hard to say how many people are going through such hardships. If they lose their job, they are questioned by family on why they cannot send money back home, and with little language skills or other specialisations, they are often at a disadvantage said the Social Welfare Department official. We advise all relatives to be sure on where their children are working, what is the manner of their work and other details, even their work timings. They should make sure the agency as well as the workplace is trust worthy, they said.

 

 

Recently a press release was made by the Chennai Mizo Welfare Association where they requested family and friends in Aizawl who have sent or are planning to send their children, friends or relatives to the city to have a proper knowledge of their workplace and whereabouts. They stated that it is advisable for those planning to work in spa or massage parlours to have a proper training certificate. It is also important that their workplace has proper registration and license stating that it is a government approved place. The Mizo public are advised to get in touch with the Social Welfare Department regarding the license and registration of such parlours and shops before they answer the call to the workplace.

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