Often, International Media opens the eyes of common people like me in India. One fine day in June 2011, I was shocked to be told that 1 out of 6 of all my female friends were trafficked for prostitution. Not only that, one out of six women I will meet at my workplace, on the street, or on the train are also victims of human trafficking. I got enlightened that day due to Trust Law, an NGO run by Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Trust Law Website says (Trust Law poll Afghanistan is most dangerous country for women, link)
India ranked fourth primarily due to female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking. In 2009, India’s then-Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta estimated that 100 million people, mostly women and girls, were involved in trafficking in India that year.The practice is common but lucrative so it goes untouched by government and police,” said Cristi Hegranes, founder of the Global Press institute, which trains women in developing countries to be journalists. India’s Central Bureau of Investigation estimated that in 2009 about 90 percent of trafficking took place within the country and that there were some 3 million prostitutes, of which about 40 percent were children.
Trust Law and its noteworthy social scientists would actually deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for revealing the startling facts to the world that 100 million people, mostly women and girls, are involved in trafficking in India in 2009. If it were true.
A back-of-envelope calculation by a 5th grader can show that this statistic is complete bullshit. India had 1.2 billion people with a female population of about 600 million. So, in the single year 2009, 100 million out of 600 million women and girls in India are involved in trafficking.
Why just stop here? I can do a roleplay of an international gender expert and now extrapolate this yearly data to calculate how many women and girls are involved in trafficking in a decade or 50 years? I can easily estimate that in a decade, there may be 150 million, and in a lifetime all women are trafficked at least once.
What pained me the most is the stupidity of thousands of journalists and sociologists across the world who failed to do a simple calculation. The collective stupidity is dismaying. Needless to say, India was soon ranked as 4th most dangerous place for women and the Indian parliament started shaking, with communists attacking the Government for the “plight of women.”
Of course, Trust Law claimed that the estimate is supplied to them by India’s Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta, a top Bureaucrat in India’s Home Ministry. Now, there is no way anyone track him, as he is not a public figure. Maybe he was misquoted. But, Trust law used his shoulder to fire the gun.
Why did Indian Home Ministry not challenge the figures?
For that, we need to understand something about India’s relation with western countries. For most of its history after independence, India was a poor country helplessly dependent on Russia and many Western countries. They used to get foreign aid. So, the Indian Government never used to be assertive in International politics (except when they blasted the nukes) and they used to lack confidence in dealing with even small countries like Sweden or Denmark.
I grew up watching news in media about how a low ranking Minister from Denmark has acknowledged India’s position in Kashmir. Basically, Indian politicians and Government often used to look for certificates from even the smallest western countries. This has stopped now.
The diplomatic rows India had with Australia, Norway, Italy in the last couple of years, and a recent diplomatic row with USA show, the current experimentation by the Indian Government in taking on other countries.
So, India is still not-so-confident country. So, the Government has not yet developed the skill or confidence to challenge the negative propaganda about India in western media, which has been going on many decades. Indian Politicians and older generation of bureaucrats often have no clue about how to deal with such propaganda, and they tend to avoid the issue.
But, if Trust Law had dared to publish ridiculous statistics, like, “100 million women in China involved in trafficking,” the Chinese Government would have asked the British Ambassador to stand in front of Forbidden Palace and apologize on behalf of Trust Law. They would have also banned any Reuters publications in China.
Irresponsible Main Stream Media
Today, many Main Stream Media editors openly claim about the accountability they have built into reporting, while they term social media as irresponsible. We can see how hollow their claims are. If they really wanted to lie or publish false statistics, at least they would have attempted to create some type of coverup. Maybe, they should have claimed 20 million women are girls in India are trafficked for prostitution. The fact that they did not even attempt to cover up shows they are incompetent and stupid. The question is, can we leave our societies to such idiots?
Expectation from British Government
The headquarters of the Thomson Reuters Foundation is in London. Its CEO is Monique Villa. The British Government should conduct an investigation into this issue and force Trust Law to give an unconditional apology to the people of India for publishing false statistics. The choice is with the British Government and the British people.
No one in the world likes false statistics about his culture or civilization. The British would not certainly like false statistics stating that 1 in 6 British women are forced into sex traficking being published in India or another country. As we know, the main stream media and NGOs are rarely held to account. It is time for British Government to step in and put the records straight. Such propaganda from British soil can and probably will eventually trigger a diplomatic row in the future.
Monique Villa should resign to set an example for others about restoring integrity in main stream media.
Now, if the British Government or Thomson Reuters do not act on this issue, they lose our respect and they degrade the reputation of the British people across the world.