Darjeeling, Salesian school and tea industry against trafficking in women
The Salesian College of Sonada di Gorabari and the Rimpocha Tea company enter into an agreement for the technical training of teenagers. In the region there are 83 plantations of the delicious drink, famous all over the world. Every year at least 400 girls are trafficked from rural areas.
New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Salesian college in Darjeeling, West Bengal, has entered into an agreement with a tea company to prevent trafficking in women, exploited on plantations with the offer of easy earnings. Sonada's Salesian College and Rajah Banerjee's Rimpocha Tea, based in Siliguri, will offer training courses to teenage girls at risk.
George Thadathil, school principal, said: "Education and skills training are the only way to prevent girls from falling prey to human traffickers, who seduce them with false promises of fast and better future earnings".
The Catholic institute is located in the village of Gorabari and was founded in 1938. Over 95% of its students come from the hills of Darjeeling, known worldwide for the quality of the tea leaves that are produced here. There are at least 83 plantations of the delicious drink in the area, spread over an area of 19 thousand hectares (190 square km). The plantations employ over 52 thousand people, including leaf pickers and processors.
The rural area is subject to strong migration from other Indian territories, where the population arrives in search of work. Predominantly poor in origin, industrial workers suffer from low wages. Poverty is one of the major causes of the exploitation of human beings, in particular girls, and a reason for continuous movements in search of more profitable jobs.
Organizations fighting human trafficking report that at least 400 girls are trafficked by plantations every year. The exploiters prefer areas where hunger and poverty are higher, rather than places with schools and health facilities.
Banerjee, who belongs to a dynasty of tea growers and among the first to start tea cultivation in Darjeeling, is committed to training young women. He is also among the pioneers of sustainable agriculture in the region. “Rimpocha is not just tea but a philosophy of life that stands on five pillars of sustainability—healthy soil, economically-empowered women, biodynamic compost and fuel from the holy cow, fair price and trade for marginalized growers, and technological assistance for direct marketing of their produce,” explained Banerjee.
Salesian schools contribute significantly to the development of the country, through training, health structures, support for families, young people and the sick. India, the fourth largest economic power in the world with a population of 1.3 billion inhabitants, is divided by a large cultural and economic gap: 30% of the population is unemployed, illiterate or lacks technical training. More than 22% of the population lives in conditions of poverty. According to a report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, around 31% of poor children worldwide live in India.