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Afghan Opium Cultivation Fuels World Drug Trade; Sex Trafficking in India and Around the World

Aired October 25, 2009 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: This week, Afghanistan, opium, and the war. Are drug users around the world funding the Taliban?

Welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour. And today we explore the way opium fuels the insurgency in Afghanistan and beyond. We'll speak to the top international drug official, and to a journalist who's seen firsthand the Taliban's relationship with drug money.

Plus, we have a searing look at the sale of daughters and wives in India. We talk to women who are struggling to end this multi-billion dollar slave trade.

But first, opium and heroin are fueling the war in Afghanistan and insurgencies around the world, as well as crime and addiction. Just listen to these statistics: Afghan opium kills more people every year than any other drug. And in NATO countries, every year, heroin from the Afghan poppy fields kills five times more users than all the NATO troops who have died fighting the Afghan war over the last eight years.

The UN's top drug enforcement official told me that the Taliban is much more involved in every aspect of the drug trade than previously thought.


AMANPOUR: Joining me now, Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. You wrote the report. Welcome to our program.


AMANPOUR: What is new?

COSTA: A lot. A lot of new information and an evolved picture. You have the information about where the Afghan drug goes to, how much goes to Europe, goes to Europe, Pakistan, Iran, causing deadly consequences. How much money is accrued to the insurgents in Afghanistan and around Afghanistan? And also, of course, how much goes into the pocket of organized crime worldwide.

But overall, what the report does is link the dots together. And we see the health situation, the crime situation, and the organized insurgency situation altogether. This is very new.

AMANPOUR: So in terms of the figures, some 400 million dollars a year going to the Taliban?

COSTA: Yes. This is an estimate, which has been produced some time ago, which is confirmed in this report, at least regarding the amount of money which is being used by the Taliban thanks to their role in the cultivation, administration, processing in the labs, and in the exports.

AMANPOUR: That's what I wanted to explore with you. Because before people thought they were just getting a take, a small take off the top. But now you're saying it's much, much more involved than that?

COSTA: Well, we should compare, for example, the Taliban period now, when they're insurgents not in control of the country, but in control of parts of the country, with the period when they were in power, and therefore running the country in the late '90s. At that time, the Taliban were tolerating the cultivation because they considered it to be un-Islamic or anti-Islamic. But they were taking a cut of about 10 percent. And at that time, we estimated the revenue to insurgents of about 80 million dollars, 70 to 90 million.

Today, they're deeply involved in the processing, deeply involved in protecting the farmers, deeply involved in the exports, deeply involved in all the activities, including the precursors -- chemical precursors, which are imported into Afghanistan.

In all of that, we estimate in this report amount of 130 or 140 million dollars a year. Plus, the other activities they are involved, which of course brings up the numbers significantly.

AMANPOUR: And look, we have a map here of Afghanistan and its surrounding countries. You can use this and try to tell us where it's all going, since that's part of your new report as well.

COSTA: Basically, the Afghan opium leaves the country through three different routes. About 150 tons of heroin reach Pakistan. About 105, slightly more than 100, tons of heroin reach Iran. And the remaining, which is about 50, 55 tons of heroin, reach central Asia.

Of course, this is not to stay in these three countries. A good deal of the Pakistani heroin moves into Iran, and a whole lot then goes through Iran into Turkey, and then eventually into the European Union.

AMANPOUR: And a lot into Russia, right?

COSTA: The segment which goes through central Asia, about 70 tons of it reaches Russia and then goes --

AMANPOUR: OK. In your report, you have said that the Afghan drug economy generates this several hundred million dollars per year into evil hands, some with black turbines, some with white-collars. What do you mean?

COSTA: Well, the black turbines are easily identified, you know with whom. White collars, by that we intend to refer to, for example, officials. Officials in the Afghan administration, whether in the federal government, in Kabul or in the provinces, or people in the army or people in the police.

But also those who are around the world involved in recycling the money, which is generated by the opium trade. We have estimated that amount to 65 billion dollars. That's a lot of money.

AMANPOUR: So what's the solution? Because we've just reported and the U.S. has said that forget eradication, forget the poppy fields. That's simply not going to be enough. So what is the solution?

COSTA: It's very simply. It's going to take a long time, but it's very clear what should be done. First of all, all the opium that's list there, 70 tons going to Russia, 100 tons going to Europe, this is demand. They kill 100,000 people a year. We need much greater effort and commitment by government to prevent drug addiction, to take care of drug addicts, to remedy, in terms of therapeutic measures, to their situation, to reduce demand.

Second, of course, the source of the problem. You mentioned eradication, namely the destruction of the crop. We need to help farmers to disintoxicate themselves, to switch to other cultivation. It has happened. Opium being so abundant in the country, the price of it declined by 20, 30 percent a year in the past few years. And it became competitive to grow something else. We need to nurture this something else.

AMANPOUR: So if it is competitive, why hasn't this nurturing been done? Why isn't more of this --

COSTA: Well, because insurgents are in control of the territory, which becomes very difficult to bring to farmers, basically, development. You need to bring in refrigerating facilities. You bring to build roads to take the products to the market. You need to have the facility to stop --

AMANPOUR: So you sort of need to nation build in order to allow this to happen?

COSTA: We need development.

AMANPOUR: And are you dealing with NATO troops as well? NATO has a certain mandate. Many of the NATO countries have been reluctant to have their forces join the US drug eradication or interdiction efforts. Is anything changing there?

COSTA: Yes, a lot. In the report, there is evidence that during the first nine months of this year, about 120 strikes against drug targets were run by NATO. There is even a list of tons of opium, tons of seeds, the number of labs destroyed. I think this is happening and --

AMANPOUR: Is it making a dent?

COSTA: So far, unfortunately, in terms of the pure number, I would say not yet. The amount of strikes are impressive. The amount of drugs destroyed and opium confiscated is high. But there is so much drugs in Afghanistan, twice the consumption of the world,that for the time being, in percentage terms, NATO operations have not been effective.

AMANPOUR: So what will it take, in short?

COSTA: It will take a much greater commitment in terms of effectively looking at the kingpins, those have been --who are, to some extent, involved in insurgency, but are involved in trafficking, and therefore with their resources support the insurgents.

But we need, in addition to what I mentioned earlier, reduction of demand, and therefore less addiction in Europe, and reduction of supply, namely helping the farmers to switch. We need a much harder stance on traffickers, whether they are in Afghanistan, whether they are in Pakistan, or whether they are along the routes in Russia or in Europe.

AMANPOUR: You talked about the kingpins. There is a report that the U.S. is now targeting them from the air or from anywhere, targeted killings and also that the Pentagon has a list of some 50 drug kingpins to be taken out. Is that one way to go?

COSTA: No. I personally don't believe so for a very simple reason. We believe in correct application of justice. And I am perplexed about the fact that this is not actually happening. The Security Council of the United Nations, already on two occasions, in 2007 -- 2006 and 2007, passed a resolution, invited member states to provide to the Security Council the name of the major traffickers involved in Afghan opium and also funding insurgents, so that it could be banned, their assets could be seized, and the procedure for eventual extradition could be launched.

So far, much to my dismay, not a single name was provided through the Security Council. That is a manifestation of a negligence which I consider very serious.


AMANPOUR: Negligence. We'll talk about that and more on this issue. Stay with us. Next, we'll have a different perspective on the drugs war from an author and journalist who has met the Taliban. Stay with us.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): One of the world's busiest drug routes runs through Iran's rocky mountains and desert plains. For its eastern border lies alongside Afghanistan and Pakistan, which produce 80 percent of the world's heroin and opium, drugs destined for users in the west. They are smuggled through Iran.

(on camera): This is the front line in Iran's war against the drug traffickers, its frontiers with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Along nearly 2,000 kilometers of border line, Iran has built concrete walls, dams, canals and earthen barriers.


AMANPOUR: That was my report on drug smuggling 11 years ago. So what has changed today? Joining me now, Gretchen Peters, an award-winning journalist who reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan for more than a decade. She interviewed hundreds of villagers, smugglers and the Taliban for her book, "Seeds of Terror."

And here again, with me in the studio, is the UN's Antonio Maria Costa. Welcome back to you both. Welcome Gretchen. Let me ask you, that figure, 11 years ago, and now we're hearing that 90 percent of the world's opium and heroin comes from Afghanistan, but only two percent is seized there. Most of it going out of the country. What is to be done?

GRETCHEN PETERS, AUTHOR, "SEEDS OF TERROR": Well, I think there needs to be a lot more focus on interdiction. I do think there needs to be a lot more focus on stopping drug convoys, raiding and dismantling drug labs. That's very difficult, because many are small and mobile.

I think, as Mr. Costa said, there has to be tremendous effort on the development side to help bring rule of law to rural area where poppy is cultivated, to try and help villagers -- the many different levels of things that have to happen to help villagers move off of the poppy crop.

But I also think there's a lot to be done internationally. And I think that gets a lot more focus -- lot less focus than it should.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Mr. Costa, when I asked him about the notion of targeting these things, as you've just said, convoys and other such things, wasn't so keen on it. He said not extra-judicial targeting. Killings, yes. But you have said that the Pentagon does have this list of 50 or so people that they're going after. What, to kill?

PETERS: Yes, it's a kill or capture list. I think what they're finding, from military officials that I've spoken with that are tracking this issue, is that the drug traffickers and the insurgents in southern Afghanistan are working so closely together that it's almost impossible to separate them.

A recent example was a raid in Marja (ph), in Helmund, in May, when they uncovered a Taliban command and control center in the middle of a poppy market, an opium market. And they found more than 90 tons of drugs, precursor chemicals, and poppy seeds there under the Taliban's control.

So they really are working very closely together. I think there has to be more effort to try and interdict the major traffickers who are not -- and the money launderers, who are not in Afghanistan. Really, the major players are in Pakistan. They're in the UAE. Some of them move between Iran and Afghanistan.

It's -- this is a regional issue and it needs a regional approach.

AMANPOUR: Are you getting, Mr. Costa, any luck trying to get -- we discussed it briefly a little bit ago -- but any luck trying to get some international cooperation on this?

COSTA: I think a lot is happening now. Now, obviously, those are seeds which will bear fruits only -- god only knows when, in the future. We have, for example, promoted what we call a trilateral initiative between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. That is working quite well. There have been a joint operation, quite unusual, because very often these -- at least somewhat these countries have been at odds with one another. They have been running joint operations, joint patrolling, sharing some sort of intelligence.

The results, again, are very small, but symbolic. This is the beginning of an exercise which is far reaching. And the same in central Asia. We're doing the same among these countries.

AMANPOUR: Gretchen, you talked about a DEA success story with Haji Jumahan (ph). They got him. They lured him. And they managed to bring him back here to prosecute. But then you went after the trail in Pakistan. Where what did you find there, even after he'd been taken off the streets?

PETERS: Well, I went to his house before he was arrested. I tracked him down to Queta (ph) in Pakistan a few months before he was arrested. He wasn't there, but I spoke to other members of his team. And they freely admitted whose house it was, that he was a major drug trafficker. I consider him to be like the Pablo Escobar of Afghanistan.

And nobody was the slightest bit concerned to have a journalist show up at the house and tell me exactly what they were up to. So it's been my experience that it was actually quite easy to meet with smugglers, truck drivers who smuggle drugs through Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. They were very open about talking about it, because there is so little interdiction.

I do think that is changing and I think that is an encouraging sign. But this is a multi-billion dollar -- there's a multi-billion dollar trade going on in this region. It's drugs going out, commodities coming back in. And the insurgents and corrupt officials on both sides of the border profit off of and protect that. That gives them a perverse incentive to stabilizing the region.

In other words, this entire economy is fueled or is supported by the continuing instability. It's going to be very hard to turn that around, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you this -- and I think I read that you said that even after Haji Jumahan was taken off the streets, his relatives and lieutenants continued the trade?

PETERS: Oh, yes, absolutely.

AMANPOUR: Let me read you this. There is a statement by Thomas Schweich, former State Department counter-narcotics official in Afghanistan, about Colonel General Khodaidad. And what he said was, which we can see on our screen, "I think Karzai, the president, appointed him because he wouldn't have any influence. And I think Karzai felt that the Americans were too stupid to figure that out."

Do you think that's the case?

COSTA: It's a bit harsh. I know Tom well and he's --

AMANPOUR: But they have also been accusations against President Karzai's relatives, his brother, others who are part of this drug trade.

COSTA: We are talking about two different subject matters here. General Khodaidad is called in that statement ineffective. Certainly, the Minister of Counter-Narcotics in Afghanistan is very weak. It has no ability to enforce the law. It has no equipment. It has nothing. It is sort of a moral law. And I guess that is what Tom meant when he said, in effect.

And certainly, he's very clean. I never had one single word against him in terms of him being involved. Then there is a different element, which you brought up, the question of corruption, corruption in Kabul, corruption in the provinces, corruption in the army, corruption in many ministers. That's a different issue. And I will consider it one of the most dangerous one and most urgent to be dealt with.

AMANPOUR: Gretchen, last word to you. As this reassessment of Afghan policy goes on, as this crisis in governance in Afghanistan is playing itself out, how is this going to help or hinder, more likely, the effort to control the drugs?

PETERS: Well, I think at the same time that the drug problem creates challenges, it also presents opportunities. My research among the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan finds that, on both sides of the border, people are fed up by the drug trafficking and the other criminality that the insurgents and corrupt officials get up to. Their lives are chewed up by this.

I think it provides an opportunity for a counter-insurgency campaign to build a more well-governed region from the bottom up, from the village level up.

AMANPOUR: So you support what General McChrystal is basically saying, that the whole process of development and counter-insurgency and really building from the ground up?

PETERS: I believe that that is the best way -- I believe that that's the best way to go. I am -- I have to say, I'm a little skeptical that at this point, our -- the NATO troops are trained for that kind of mission. I believe that there has to be a lot more focus on law enforcement. And I think there's a tremendous challenge to the idea of sending a company of soldiers, say 120 U.S. Marines, into a village in southern Helmund and saying, you guys have to enforce the law. In that case, your soldiers essentially turn into policemen patrolling the streets, and your company commander is the mayor.

I don't think western troops deployed to Afghanistan are trained to do that kind of work. I don't think we have the type of development forces being deployed alongside them to help these villages transfer themselves on to other types of economies. It's a very, very complex project. In an ideal world, I do think it would work.

AMANPOUR: Thank you, Gretchen. And I saw you nodding when I asked her about the recommendations by General McChrystal.

COSTA: Yes, definitely. The country is crying. Afghanistan is crying for greater security. Whether it's security on the ground in terms of fighting the insurgency, whether it's security in terms of fighting the crime of cultivating, processing and exporting drugs. We need all of these on the ground, whether done by Afghan army and police, unlikely, or by foreign troops. This has to be done and urgently.

AMANPOUR: The UN's Antonio Maria Costa and author Gretchen Peters.

Next, will the United States stay the course in Afghanistan? A rare diplomatic convention when we return.


AMANPOUR: Afghanistan's Mafia state is a key concern as the United States mulls its new strategy. And the whole region is wondering whether the U.S. will stay the course. This week, we had an unprecedented round table on our program with the U.N. ambassadors from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. And during the interview, I asked them what they thought of what the U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had told me previously on this program about America's involvement there in the late 1980s.


ROBERT GIBBS, US DEFENSE SECRETARY: We turned our backs on Afghanistan. We turned our backs on Pakistan. They were left to deal with the situation in Afghanistan on their own. Their worry is, what happens in the future? Will we be there? Will we be a constant presence? Will we be supportive of them over the long-term?

AMANPOUR: That's what U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told me earlier this month, promising to stay the course. Do your countries want the United States to stay? We have this strategic review going on. Do you want them to ramp up and stay? Ambassador?

DR. ZAHIR TANIN, AFGHAN. AMB. TO THE UN: Our view is very, very clear about that. We support General McChrystal's suggestions and strategy, including increase of forces. We know that there is a threat. This threat is not only for Afghanistan. This threat is not only limited to Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this threat is not only regional, as we know, everywhere.

So without stabilizing Afghanistan, any talks about withdrawal or exit from the military activities and dealing with the current challenges is just against the interest of the United States and the global world.

AMANPOUR: Thank you. Ambassador Haroon?

ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON, PAKISTANI AMB. TO THE UN: From Charlie Wilson until to now, it's been your game and your terrain. If you pull yourself out of it, it's going to create serious problems, naturally. I think this is not the way to handle it.

It has to be handled by putting together or cobbling together a peace that can work with everyone involved, all the neighbors, China, Russia, India, Iran, the works. And then I think we've got it going on a better scale, because just to pull out like that, like you did last time, would have devastating consequences.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador?

HARDEEP SINGH PURI, INDIAN AMB. TO THE UN: You cannot have a fight against international terrorism which is compartmentalized. The snakes that bite us wherever come from the same pit. You cannot do Faustian deals with terrorist groups. So I think you need a comprehensive international movement against the terrorists. And I hope that all of us that are involved in this will carry this fight through until the end, so that all of us are victors in this.

AMANPOUR: Thank you all so very much for being with us. Thank you very much for joining us.


AMANPOUR: When we come back --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you taking this information? Why are you taking this information?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know.


AMANPOUR: Our reporter in India investigates a shocking story that so many people don't want you to see.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back. We have a story now about a form of slavery that dates back through the ages, and continues to this day in some parts of the world. Women and girls used as currency by their impoverished families when there's drought or when times are really hard. They're forced into lives of sexual exploitation and misery. We're going to talk to some women who are trying to stop this. But first we have a special report from CNN's Sara Sidner in Central India.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fields, the cattle, the farm equipment of ancient times. This is rural India. The harvest determines feast or famine here and so much more. Drought, debt, and desperation have pushed people to extremes in this north central Indian region.

To survive the bad years, some farmers turn to the Pessowala (ph), Hindi for rich man, who lends money. But the high-interest loans mount up and the lenders demand payment.

(on camera): Because of years of poor harvest in this district, some farmers say they are being forced to pay their debts with whatever the lenders ask for.

(voice-over): Including their wives.

(on camera): Do money lenders consider wives possessions to be bought and sold?

(voice-over): Yes, she says, it happens sometimes when people borrow money.

(on camera): Did the money lender buy you?

(voice-over): He did buy me. That's why he told me he bought me, she says. For 30 days, she says the rich man forced her to live with him. When she finally did reach police, she told them her husband had sold her. Then her case drew public attention. She retracted her report and her husband has taken her back.

Social scientist Dr. Ranjana Kumari says exploitation of women is common here, and so is the result when a woman gets the nerve to file a case.

DR. RANJANA KUMARI, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH: Nobody's going to support and help them. The family decides not to help them. The system is desensitized towards them, whether it is police, judiciary, the legal system. So the women themselves tend to withdraw these cases.

SIDNER: In another village, another farmer, another money lender.

I sold my water engine and land and gave back his 30,000 Rupees. This farmer says the lender then asked that he send his wife to help with chores while the lender's wife was sick. He sent her and his children went too. But the mother never returned.

He says she was stolen from him. State authorities say their new investigation found the mother does not want to return, and left on her own to be with her lover. But the daughter, who says she lived with the lender and her mother, had a different story.

(on camera): Why did the money lender take your mom away? What did he tell you?

(voice-over): He said there was still some money owed and took my mom.

The daughter also says she and her dad were told to keep quiet by some of the village leaders. While we visited, officials with the State Magistrates Office pushed open the door of the farmer's house and started videotaping our interview.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your name?

SIDNER (on camera): Sara.


SIDNER: Why are you taking this information?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know.

SIDNER (voice-over): That case aside, this government report says the region is prone to what it calls atrocities against women, including buying and selling them.

(on camera): Social workers say this isn't just about poverty. This also says a lot about the low social status of women in these parts.

KUMARI: Those women are very vulnerable to all kinds of physical and sexual exploitation. And also there's a much higher level of violence against women in that area.

SIDNER: The government and charities have been trying to help. But the status of women and girls, often illiterate and seen as a financial burden, remains low. Fourteen years ago, this woman says she was sold to her husband by her own parents for the equivalent of 200 dollars.

My mother and father got 10,000 Rupees, that's why they sold me, she says. She was just 12 and never considered going to authorities because she said she had nowhere else to go. She accepted it as her destiny.

With another severe drought this year, activists say more women and families may be traded off for their labor as they struggle to pay back the Pessowala.


SIDNER: We talked to dozens of villagers. We talked to people from the government, as well as sociologists. And no one knows exactly how prevalent this might be, but certainly it is not unheard of here. Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Sara, thank you so much for that report.

And in a moment, a glimpse of the terrible fate of women who are sold into sexual slavery. And an earlier conversation I had with two women who are fighting to end this multi-billion dollar global sex trade. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much money do you want for your daughter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hundred fifty thousand rupees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you joking? Did you say hundreds of thousands? You must mean thousands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, one and a half thousand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, we'll give you the money. Now can we take her to Bombay?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you be able to do whatever is asked of you? Any job?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to go to Bombay?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know what to expect in Bombay?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't seen it, so I don't know.


AMANPOUR: That was a scene filmed in Nepal, in the startling documentary "Selling of Innocence." It shows that the problem of human trafficking extends across borders. And joining me now here in the studio, Ruchira Gupta, the filmmaker behind the documentary. She is founder of Apnia, an organization that helps victims. And also here, Taina Bien- Aimie, executive director of Equality Now. She's pushing for much tougher anti-trafficking laws.

So welcome both of you to the program. Let me ask you, Ruchira, you were posing as a trafficker in that scene?

RUCHIRA GUPTA, FILMMAKER: That's right. I wanted to show how easy it was and how anyone could go into a village in Nepal or India, and look around to buy a girl. And somebody would show up to sell the girl. And the girl had no idea about her rights. And for as little as 50 dollars, could buy her and do whatever they wanted with her.

AMANPOUR: And it was making that film that turned you into an activist for these -- against this situation.

GUPTA: It was a life-changing experience for me, because as a journalist, I'd covered war, famine, conflict, hunger. But I had never seen the deliberate exploitation of one human being by another, as I saw in a brothel in Bombay, when I walked into a little room, which is four by four, and saw the 10-year-olds and the 12-year-olds sitting on the bed.

AMANPOUR: Ten and 12?

GUPTA: Yes. And 10 or 15 customers a night.

AMANPOUR: Ten or 15 customers for 10-year-old girls?

GUPTA: Raped repeatedly every night.

AMANPOUR: How many girls and women does this affect?

GUPTA: According to the government of India, just recently in May, they said 1.3 million children are sold into prostitution in India right now. And there are 1.3 million prostituted children in our country right this second.

AMANPOUR: What does Apnia, your organization, do? What does it stand for, first of all?

GUPTA: Apnia means self-help in Hindi. And we believe in organizing women and girls to rescue each other. So we work inside red light areas and slums. We form small groups of women to help them find other livelihood options. And we also get their daughters into school by helping the women empower themselves inside these small groups.

AMANPOUR: Taina, it sounds easy, get the girls, re-educate, liberty them from this bondage. Is it easy?

TAINA BIEN AIME, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EQUALITY NOW: It's never easy. Actually, on all the issues on which Equality Now works, which is all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world, we believe that sex trafficking will get worse before it gets better. Ruchira is highlighting the case in India. But this is a worldwide problem. There's not one country in the world that is not either a source, transit, or destination country for human trafficking.

AMANPOUR: Even people as prominent as Hillary Clinton, now secretary of state, are talking against it, people as powerful as Oprah Winfrey takes up this cause. And yet, is anything really being done? Let me just play what Hillary Clinton has said on this issue.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Trafficking thrives in the shad dose. And it can be easy to dismiss it as something that happens to someone else somewhere else. But that's not the case. Trafficking is a crime that involves every nation on Earth. And that includes our own.


AMANPOUR: So if it's a crime, who are the main criminals?

AIME: It could be anyone. It could be organized networks. It could be a mom and pop trafficking women and girls on Craigslist. And we really value the words of Hillary Clinton. However, it's not really something that happens in the shadows. There's government corruption involved. There's lack of law enforcement. There's lack of political will to really address the issue of human trafficking.

GUPTA: The main criminals, I think, are the end users, the buyers of prostituted sex, who want the little girls, and because of which the traffickers and the organized criminal networks see that there's profit in it, and they go into poor villages to find these girls, either in Eastern Europe or India.

So the real criminals are those that create a demand for these little girls.

AMANPOUR: This is something that law enforcement seems not to have got a grip, because they always prosecute the prostitutes.

GUPTA: That's right.

AMANPOUR: How to get them to prosecute the users, the buyers, the traffickers?

GUPTA: Two ways. Apnia has been campaigning to change the India law to punish buyers of prosecuted sex more severely and also traffickers, who are making a profit off the sale and purchase of girls, women, men, and boys. And we are also trying to get the law changed, so it does not punish women for a crime they never committed. They were the victims. And now they are survivors.

AMANPOUR: Has any progress been made in India?

GUPTA: We've been lobbying for the change in law now for three years. And the biggest obstacle we are facing is from some of the AIDS management agencies, who want the brothels to exist, so that they can distribute condoms inside. And I've been facing this. And they want to protect buyers of prostituted sex from disease, rather than protecting the women and girls from buyers.


GUPTA: She is now too ill to entertain customers. She has been told she has TB. She thinks she has AIDS. Laxi (ph) trusts that her old friend will help her, but Vilma knows soon she too will be too tired and too old to attract customers. After 15 years in the brothels, Laxi is dying.


AMANPOUR: On this issue, has AIDS made younger girls more vulnerable, as men seem to think that younger girls will not infect them.

GUPTA: Absolutely. It's created a new demand, because now men are saying that they want disease-free young virgin girls. So traffickers are on the prowl in the villages, looking for new girls to kidnap, seduce, trick, force, coerce.

AMANPOUR: We've got this map of India up. And I just want to show this highlighted area here, which is where this story that Sara Sidner, our reporter, told us that farmers, who are desperate, are now basically handing over their daughters. Describe for me a little bit of the inherent problem right here.

GUPTA: This is an area of India which is agricultural and it's -- the agriculture there is based on the Monsoon, and when the rains come, then they have a good bumper crop, and they can live off that. When there are no rains, there's drought. And farmers then get into debt by taking money from money lenders to go over the season of drought.

This time around, money lenders are saying, if you don't have money, give us your daughters or your mothers or your wives or your sisters.

AMANPOUR: This is a disaster. Just the way you're describing it is absolutely incredible, almost unbelievable. What can be done, really, beyond raising awareness? I mean, awareness has been raised. You've got the secretary of state of the United States, one of the most powerful diplomats in the world, saying this needs to be controlled. How, really, can it be done? Are the people that you're engaging with serious about doing something?

AIME: Well, there are a number of things. As Ruchira said, one, we need strong laws. Even here in New York state, we have the strongest state anti-trafficking legislation, but, again, no political will to enforce it.

Number two, we really need to address the commercial sex trade. The availability of women for purchase is something that we need to address nationally and internationally. Women are not for sale. They're not for sale in brothels. They're not for sale at the Mayflower Hotel. They're not for sale on the streets.

Number three, we really need to build an international network of survivors' voices. They're the ones who are going to come forth and give us the best solutions.

AMANPOUR: Let's be brutally frank. Prostitution has been around since the beginning of time. What is the major difference now? Is it the fact that the girls are younger and younger? Is it the fact that girls are being sold off? What can -- what part of this prostitution or trafficking can you really try to grab and make a difference with?

AIME: First of all, prostitution has not been around for -- from time immemorial. Pimping has. The exploitation of women for profit has existed from the beginning of time. The commercial sex trade and the exploitation is a form of gender based violence and discrimination. And again, I think it's a collective effort.

AMANPOUR: In India -- again, I'm trying to see in this huge global problem that is prostitution, is it possible to maybe have a bigger impact by focusing just on the youngest kids first, as a way to start this?

GUPTA: Of course, you know, anyone's heart bleeds when they know a seven-year-old is in a brothel. But what I've noticed is that because we sort of accepted the prostitution of adult women, slowly our threshold changed. And from adults it went down to the 17-year-old, the 15-year-old, the 13-year-old, and now the seven.

So, in fact, the acceptance of the prostitution of anyone who is female affects us all. So I think we really have to focus on, to turn this thing around, where prostitution has become so normalized, that it's leading to trafficking and transport of girls from one place to another, just for this purpose -- is that we have to really go for laws where we can go after the demand for prostitution. And once we start dismantling that and spread the message that cool men don't buy sex, then maybe we can start turning things around.

AMANPOUR: Is there one memory, one incident, one discovery that you made that stands out amongst all others?

GUPTA: Yes. There's a little girl called Nana that we rescued from a brothel a couple of years ago. She was born in the brothels. She was prostituted when she was 12 or 13, raped repeatedly, deprived of food, forced to become dependent on drugs and alcohol. And today, after the rescue, she knows two languages, how to read and write in two languages, is studying to be a videographer, and is changing her life around.

And the one thing she asked me after she began to study is that, as long as there are buyers, you know, there will be other little little girls like me at risk. So is there nothing that we can do to go after the buyers?

AMANPOUR: And one last question for you. Are there young girls who are fighting against this and winning this battle on case by case?

AIME: Absolutely. Equality Now has been working with grassroots organizations around the world who are amazing human rights activists, who are raising hell about this issue. And I think these are the voices that we really need to pay attention to and give support to.

AMANPOUR: Taine, Ruchira, thank you for raising hell. And we'll continue to watch this and monitor it closely.

And next, a very different look at India. It really is a unique perspective on the joy of dancing.


AMANPOUR: Now for our postscript. Tonight, we have another addition of our Global Dispatch, a short film from our friends at the Panjir (ph) Film Festival. It's also about India, but from a very different angle. It's about dancing the Tango, and it's shot with a cell phone camera.




AMANPOUR: That's Director Sumit Roy's (ph) film. We would love to hear from you, so please send us your videos. You can find out more about how on our website, in our Global Dispatch section. That's it for now. From all of us here, good-bye from New York.