236 citizens from corporates, colleges and NGOs participated in the Walk for Freedom to raise awareness about human trafficking at Bhubaneswar this morning.
The Walk was declared open by Chief Guest Mr. Siddhant Mahapatra, a renowned cine artist of Odisha and former Rajyasabha MP. Guests of honour Bikram Keshari Nayak, Co-Founder & Program Designing Head, Ashayen, Ratnakar Sahoo, Chairman, Ashayen, Zubin Allo, Advisor, CREED India Foundation, Monalisa Panda, Chairman, CREED India Foundation and Prof (Dr) Mihir Ranjan Nayak, Principal, BIITM College also graced the occasion with their presence. Speaking on the occasion, The chief guest Mr. Siddhant Mahapatra said, “There are two major contributing factors for Human Trafficking, i.e Poverty and Illiteracy. We need to understand the gamot behind-the-scenes. We need fitness for self and society to live in peace. So we also should do our bit for society and show solidarity against Human Trafficking in our everyday life.”
At the start of the walk participants in Bhubaneswar and across the nation took a pledge to do everything possible within their means to help end trafficking in their lifetimes. They then walked single file holding placards with information and statistics about human trafficking at BIITM College, Bhubaneswar. The Walk was a completely silent walk in solidarity with voiceless victims of human trafficking. The walk culminated in an anti-human trafficking awareness session for all participants by guest speaker Bikram Keshari Nayak, who highlighted, “Not only does the criminal exist in all countries but it’s knocking on our doorsteps.”
This was Bhubaneswar’s first year participating in the Walk for Freedom, and is led by CREED India Foundation & Ashayen. Participating institutions include BIITM College, Bhubneswar.
49.6 million people are caught in various forms of modern-day slavery globally, including exploitation for sex, labour, organs, baby selling, forced marriages and domestic servitude, reports the International Labour Organisation (2022). This means that 1 in every 150 people globally are enslaved. Here in India, 8 children were trafficked every day in 2021 according to the Crime in India Report, National Crime Records Bureau (2021). In Odisha’s Balasore, as recently as March 2023, 8 women from West Bengal and Bangladesh were trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation within Odisha. They were successfully rescued by the intervention of the local police. (New Indian Express, Odisha TC)
It is in this context that the Walk for Freedom is being hosted in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.