VIJAYAWADA: VIMUKTI, the state-level collective of survivors of sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and women in prostitution, has urged the government to strengthen law and save such people from exploitation by private moneylenders.
State convener of the organisation, Meharunnisa, called for giving fresh teeth to the Money Lenders (Regulation) Act and Protection of Borrowers Act in ways as to control the exploitation of women by moneylenders. She said these men were directly and indirectly involved in human trafficking and charging exorbitant interest rates from poor, the landless, unorganized workers, daily wage labourers and sex workers.
On the occasion of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons – 2021, a meeting was held jointly by VIMUKTI and HELP (Society for help entire lower and rural people) with the survivors of human trafficking at the conference hall of the press club on the topic, Victims' Voices Lead the Way.
Meharunnisa said the Andhra Pradesh Borrowers Protection Act was first enacted in 1934 in joint Andhra Pradesh. However, in 2018, the Andhra Pradesh Acts and Regulations (Repeal) Act 2018 repealed the Andhra Pradesh Borrowers Protection Act 1934 and introduced another new bill (Andhra Pradesh Moneylenders Bill 2017). But, as on date, it has not received the presidential assent.
She complained that, as of now, there is no law in place in Andhra Pradesh to control private money lenders who quote high interest rates, and for the protection of borrowers. As a result, many families are being pushed into prostitution by commercial sexual exploiters.
Vimukthi state co-convener Pushpavati said the then government had enacted the Andhra Pradesh Microfinance Institutions (Regulations of Money Lending) Act in 2011 as some agencies in the state were exploiting women by lending money to self-help groups and charging high interest in the name of microfinance. She urged the government to come up with a new legislation to extend protection to such women from private moneylenders.
VIMUKTI state leaders Rajani and Apoorva urged the state government to start a scheme wherein loans can be provided from banks to such women in self-help groups to enable them start new initiatives for family upkeep.
They urged the Gram Panchayats to provide protection to the victims of trafficking without detaining them for years in shelter homes and offer them government welfare schemes.
Ram Mohan Nimmaraju, director, HELP organisation, and several other leaders sought establishment of Anti-Human Trafficking Units in every district to track down the traffickers and keep a constant vigil over them. The government should also identify private money lenders and fake apps that lend loans at high interest rates and take strict action against them, he said.