States, UTs asked to set-up Women Help Desks to combat human trafficking

Ministry of Home Affairs has released Rs 100 crore for setting up ‘Women Help Desks’ (WHDs) in all the states and Union Territories at district and police station level units to combat human trafficking in the country.

The WHDs to be established in 10,000 police stations across states will be manned by trained police officials and experts including lawyers, psychologists, and NGOs. The WHDs shall facilitate legal aid, counselling, shelter, rehabilitation and training, besides attend to matters relating to the human trafficking.

An order in this regard has been issued by Deputy Secretary, Government of India, Arun Sobti in reference to institutional mechanism for preventing and countering human trafficking at state level.

The MHA has asked the states and UTs to notify state-, district- and police station-level Anti-Human Trafficking Units in a “comprehensive and full-bodied manner”.

As per the order, the states have been asked to notify an Anti-Human Trafficking Unit in every district of the state “which shall be responsible for all human trafficking related matters in each district and will report to state headquarters level anti-human trafficking bureau.

“Each district level AHTU shall function under the supervision of Superintendent of Police/DSP level officers and will be responsible for monitoring and coordinating all activities in the district.

“The states shall notify a Woman Help Desk in every police station and these desks shall inter-alia be responsible to undertake matters of rescue, prevention, protection and support investigation of human trafficking cases of women of respective jurisdiction.”

Earlier in March 2020, the MHA had released Rs 100 crore under Nirbhaya Fund to all states and UTs for strengthening of the existing Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) and new AHTUs in all districts of the states and UTs especially on International Border areas guarded by the Border Security Force (BSF) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

“MHA has been pursuing the matter with respective states/UTs to make use of financial assistance on an urgent basis and upgrade the existing AHTUs and also establish new AHTUs in districts where they still do not exist,” it said.