Posts by NNLRJ INDIA

NATIONAL NETWORK OF LAWYERS FOR RIGHTS AND JUSTICE (NNLRJ) is a law initiative of Shakti Vahini

Why the NCW’s proposal to legalise prostitution in India is flawed

BY DR PRAVIN PATKAR – PUBLISHED IN THE DNA INDIA

National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Lalita Kumarmangalam’s proposal to legalise prostitution and the comments thereon have a thing in common, inaccurate understanding of the problem and its solution. Her medicine is deadlier than the disease, especially when the civilised world is fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Naïve supporters of the policy appear to be misled by the magical term ‘legal’ (like ‘development’). Tomorrow they may also support legalisation of rape believing that now onwards rapes will be legal and therefore proper.

A person above the age of 18 years, selling his/her body for sex against money or kind to another person of the opposite sex (the uncertainty on IPC Section-377 is temporarily over, with the Supreme court upholding it.) in his/her private premises (a privately-owned premise is not necessarily private), 200 meters away from a place of religious worship, a hospital, an educational institution or any place notified by the government (Sec-7) is not a crime under any Indian laws including The Indian Penal Code-1860 or The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act- 1956. The Indian law bans the acts of trafficking, procuring, detaining, pimping, lending a premise for carrying on prostitution for running a brothel. Soliciting in public places for prostitution is punishable (Sec-8) but a woman arrested under Sec-7 or Sec-8 is not to be punished but to be given a chance of rehabilitation at the state’s cost (Sec-10). In short, the Indian law aims to punish the exploiters like madams, pimps, traffickers, customers, and other partners aiding the exploitative sex trade but not the prostitute woman. By legalising the trade, would the state decriminalise the offences of trafficking, procuring and detaining girls and young women, brothel-keeping or pimping? If the offence of soliciting in public is scrapped from the lawbook, then there will be pimps and madams approaching young boys and girls right outside the gates of schools and colleges, luring them with money, expensive electronic gadgets or foreign tours to join the sex trade. Parents and teachers will helplessly witness this as they will be arrested for not allowing the pimp to carry out their legal business. Should this legal position be rejected?

If the government wishes to serve the victims of prostitution, what stops it from doing what the small civil society organisations have done best? Aren’t these women the citizens of this country? Haven’t the High Courts and the Supreme Court from time to time upheld the prostituted women’s constitutional legal and human rights? Does the NCW think that to assist a rape victim, the rape must first be licensed?

The origins of the women’s emancipation movement is aptly attributed to the struggle of Josephine Butler against the draconian British law ‘Dangerous Diseases Act 1865’ which was the main expression of legalisation. It caused public outcry in Britain and its colonies between 1865 and 1885 when it was finally repealed as it was seen as an anti-women instrument leading to excessive power abuse by the health officials and police. An indispensable component of legalisation is compulsory periodic medical testing (CPMT) justified to curb sexually transmitted infections. Clinically speaking, initial tests for a person with such an infection may turn out to be negative, if his infection is fresh. This is because of the window period. So a person holding a certificate of negativity could still spread the infection. The CPMT creates a false sense of security in the client who throws caution to the wind and indulges in unsafe sex. STIs/HIV infections actually increase under legalisation.

Under legalisation, would the state issue licenses to the children (currently > 40% of the victims), the HIV positive victims (> 50% of the victims), the illegal migrants and trafficked aliens, mostly the Bangladeshis? If not, where will they all go if not underground? If the government wants to rehabilitate them, then who has stopped the government from doing so right away? Everyone in the country except the daroga (the police) knows where to find these women. In countries that have legalised the sex trade, two layers of prostitution have emerged – a very thin slice of registered legal activities and a huge chunk of illegal activities where women become more vulnerable and suffer extreme exploitation as they are forced to go underground.

Men’s confidence in assaulting any woman goes up when they experience that buying the sexuality of some women is legally supported and risk-free. All they need to do is create vulnerabilities and keep the money ready. If in spite of the law, millions are getting trafficked and over 40 million are currently living the life of sex slaves, why would the crime go down with liberalisation of the law? It is like saying no one will fail if the exams are scrapped.

As legalisation will mean keeping many registers, filing returns, paying taxes and greasing 10 more palms, the sex traders have rejected legalisation. Only the pharmaceuticals and government health babus still demand legalisation, even after knowing its futility.

Dr. Pravin Patkar is co-founder director at Prerana and adjunct professor at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. 

Child trafficking: Delhi cops not cooperating in raids

1888877_10152716836809123_6359657859865378037_oPUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh police team, which is in New Delhi to crackdown on trafficking racket, has accused Delhi police of not cooperating with further investigation to find the main accused involved in trafficking of children.

State police, in a series of raids, had busted a racket on Wednesday arresting four accused and rescued ten children including girls in Delhi. According to police officials, Delhi police barred Chhattisgarh police team when it wanted to raid the house of Guddu- the kingpin of trafficking, who is at large.

“Guddu’s house is located in Delhi’s Subhash Nagar police jurisdiction. But when the SHO Ram Mehar was contacted for cooperation in raiding the house, he denied saying that police from other state couldn’t do such investigation and in case they violated rules, he would take action against them,” an official on condition of anonymity said.

The official added that the team was asked to take permission from sub-divisional magistrate for conducting raids. In its investigation, TOI found that police teams from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam were trying to reach Subhash Nagar in search of Guddu who was the main accused for trafficking of over 10,000 children. But Subhash Nagar police weren’t co-operating.

According to Ravi Kant, a supreme court lawyer, “Any investigating officer asking support from inter state police at their jurisdiction cannot be denied assistance. Any resistance should be strictly taken into consideration by ministry of home affairs.”

Human trafficking victims in India need greater legal support

Brick workersPUBLISHED BY THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

LONDON, Nov 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Trafficking victims in India need more legal support to pursue cases against their perpetrators, while the country’s police must understand that bonded and forced labour are also crimes, according to a report published on Wednesday.

The report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Freedom Fund said although illegal, trafficking is widespread across India while perpetrators go unpunished and many victims are unable to obtain justice and compensation.

India is home to more than 14 million victims of human trafficking, according to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, which found India had the greatest number of slaves of 167 countries.

Nick Grono, CEO of Freedom Fund, the world’s first private donor fund dedicated to ending modern slavery, said human trafficking was a massively profitable business that needed to be “dealt with as a criminal enterprise”.

Modern slavery is worth more than $150 billion a year in profits for human traffickers worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization.

“It means using the law effectively to challenge the economic model that supports slavery,” Grono told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the TrustWomen conference.

“If you can find effective approaches which make a difference in India, then you can also make a huge impact on the overall scale of the problem globally.”

The report found that while hundreds of NGOs across India work on combating trafficking, only a few are able to pursue legal cases through to trial on behalf of victims.

This was due to funding restrictions, as money tends to be directed to non-legal victim assistance instead of legal work, longevity of cases, which can last for years, and the challenges of operating in an overstretched criminal justice system.

WHAT CONSTITUTES TRAFFICKING?

New anti-trafficking laws in India, ratified in May 2011, expanded the definition of trafficking and increased penalties, but confusion as to their interpretation and scope persists, the report said.

Several NGOs have said that while the new laws are being used for “traditional” trafficking offences, it is difficult to get police to register bonded labour cases or cases that do not involve movement of the victim.

“Historically, the Indian authorities have thought of trafficking only as sex trafficking, so it’s important to broaden the definition to include forced labour, bonded labour, and children being forced to work in mines,” Grono said.

The report also said that victims who press charges against perpetrators face harassment, violence and social stigma from their communities.

Citing the example of a 15-year-old Indian girl who was kidnapped, raped, and sold to a brothel, before escaping and filing a complaint with the help of an NGO, Grono said victims and officials “must realise the law is a powerful tool”.

“If you enforce and reinforce the law, and have cases that succeed and set precedents, then you can change the mindset across the country,” Grono said.

Among its recommendations, the report called for direct funding for NGOs to engage lawyers and pay for witness protection, expanded pro bono networks, and increased collaboration between anti-trafficking organisations.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, editing by Alisa Tang.)

Chhattisgarh’s trafficking kingpins held in Delhi, 10 kids rescued

20_11_2014_003_032PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR: Six human trafficking kingpins, including a woman involved in selling hundreds of children from Chhattisgarh’s Jashpur district were arrested during series of raids conducted at Delhi’s Shakurpur and Motinagar areas.

Ten children, including four boys were rescued.

The children hailing from Pathalgaon region of Jashpur district were found huddled in small, dingy, rooms of placement agencies and were confined for a month. The racket was busted in a joint operation by Chhattisgarh and Delhi Police in collaboration with NGO, Shakti Vahini, late on Tuesday.

Action comes in wake of recent Supreme Court order to Chhattisgarh to trace missing children within a month. Talking to TOI, Mallika Bannerjee, police in charge, who conducted raids, said, “Four traffickers were nabbed from Nirmala Placement Agencies at Motinagar and Guddu Placement Agencies at Shakurpur in north-west Delhi. Two sub-agents were arrested from Jashpur and produced in court for transit remand to Chhattisgarh.” The accused confessed to involvement in trafficking since 2008 and smuggled out children from Jashpur to households in Delhi, NCR, Ajmer, Dehradun, Punjab, Haryana, Mumbai and Jammu. “Each child was sold for Rs 25,000 of which Rs 5,000 was paid to touts,” they said.

Mallika said children rescued are in the age-group of 13-15. Two of them were sold to households in Punjab and Jammu. “They were kept locked in a room. There were other children too from different parts of the country,” she said.

During investigation, TOI found children were pushed into slavery, forced to work as nannies, beg on streets and work in garages and fields. Some were also forced into marriage and prostitution.

Children rescued from Delhi hellholes said they were lured with job offers at a cloth mill in Bilaspur with a salary of Rs 10,000 per month. “They were taken to Raigarh railway station and brought to Delhi. Their parents did not have any clue about their whereabouts. The kids were ill-treated by placement agents and not provided medical facility and served food once a day,” said police.

Now, rescued children are with child welfare committee and would be sent home after verification. This is the first time, traffickers based in Delhi were nabbed. Earlier, only sub-agents have been arrested, said police.

Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini told TOI, “Traffickers pick up children, especially minor girls from parts of Chhattisgarh, Assam, Jharkhand, Bengal and Odisha and route them to trafficking hubs in Delhi via Raigarh, Ranchi or Jharsuguda.”

Those arrested are Nirmala Lakra of Jharkhand, Arun Vajro of Assam, Shravan Kurre of Sarguja, Chhattisgarh and Amrat Tigga of Raigarh.

After Supreme Court order, Chhattisgarh cops form special teams to trace missing children

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RASHMI DROLIA IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR: With Supreme Court directing Chhattisgarh government to trace missing children within a month, state police rushed to form special teams to find trafficked children from different parts of country.

On November 13, the apex court had summoned Madhya Pradesh chief secretary for failing in finding missing kids and ordered Bihar and Chhattisgarh government to trace children who went missing between January 2011 and May 2014.

According to police, there are nearly 1,500 children including girls who went missing during this tenure.

TOI has consistently reported on huge number of children going missing everyday from state capital and other parts of Chhattisgarh for domestic slavery, flesh trade, begging, forced marriages and slavery. Appalling variations were also found in data produced under Right to Information Act with number of missing children from various departments including police headquarters, district crime records bureau and CID.

In its several investigations, TOI found that Chhattisgarh lacks missing children squad or active child tracking system which is supposed to act swiftly once a child goes missing.

Talking to TOI, officer on special duty, CID (child cell) PN Tiwari said special teams were being formed at police station level and SPs in all districts have been pressed into action to do 100% verification and identification of missing children.

“Finding out if the children were kidnapped, trafficked, pushed into begging or prostitution is the primary job in order to trace them. SPs and their special teams are trying to figure out their location by interrogating their parents,” Tiwari said.

Official sources said that amid all the uproar after Supreme Court’s order and Global Slavery Index report, police teams from Farsabahar in Jashpur were sent to New Delhi to trace 10 children who were allegedly trafficked for domestic slavery by placement agencies.

Police may catch a few traffickers after raiding placement agencies in Delhi.

“Across India’s population of over 1.2 billion people, all forms of modern slavery, including inter-generational bonded labour, trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced marriage, exist. Evidence suggests that members of lower strata mainly women and children being recruited with promises of non-existent jobs and later sold for sexual exploitation, or forced into sham marriages. Recent reports suggest that one child goes missing every eight minutes; it is feared that some are sold into forced begging, domestic work, and commercial sexual exploitation,” the Global Slavery Index report said.

When contacted, Rishikant of Delhi based NGO Shakti Vahini which has been working with Chhattisgarh police for rescuing children, said, “It should come forth as a joint effort from locals and citizens who need to update police with any minor information they have which would help in finding untraced children.”

Supreme Court had passed a slew of directions on a PIL filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan alleging that over 1.7 lakh children have gone missing in the country between January 2008-2010, many of whom were kidnapped for trafficking in flesh trade and child labour.

India is now the world’s slave capital: Global Slavery Index 2014

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

LONDON: With over 14.2 million in India being involved in forced labour and being victims of trafficking – for sexual exploitation and forced marriage, the country is home to the largest number of people trapped in modern slavery. Globally, 35.8 million people are enslaved across the world. Of them, 23.5 million people are in Asia, two-thirds of global total in 2014 (65.8%).

The Global Slavery Index 2014 announced on Monday that India and Pakistan alone account for over 45% of total global enslaved population and have highest prevalence of modern slavery in Asia.

The Index said, “Particularly in countries such as India and Pakistan, nationals – often including entire families – are enslaved through bonded labour in construction, agriculture, brick making, garment factories and manufacturing.”

The report this year found 23% more people across the world are involved in modern slavery than previous estimated.

Modern slavery exists in all 167 countries with five countries accounting for 61% of the world’s population living in modern slavery.

The 2014 Global Slavery Index (GSI) has been published by the Walk Free Foundation, a global human rights organization with a mission to end modern slavery in a generation.

The report looks at prevalence (the percentage of a country’s population that is enslaved) as well as the total number of people living in modern slavery in each country.

It estimates that over 23.5 million people in Asia are living in modern slavery. This is equivalent to almost two-thirds of the global total number of people enslaved. Of these, over 14.2 million are in India and over 2.05 million are in Pakistan, which demonstrate the highest prevalence of modern slavery in Asia (1.141% and 1.13% of their populations respectively).

In South Asia, these countries are followed in prevalence by Nepal (0.823% of the population, 228,700 people), Bangladesh (0.435%, 680,900), Afghanistan (0.435, 132,800) and Sri Lanka (0.359%, 73,600).

“Some countries with the biggest challenges are also taking important steps to tackle the problem. India for example has strengthened its criminal justice framework through legislative amendments and has established 215 Anti- Human Trafficking Police Units. Much more needs to be done,” said the global report.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Andrew Forrest, chairman of Walk Free Foundation, said: “There is an assumption that slavery is an issue from a bygone era. Or that it only exists in countries ravaged by war and poverty. These findings show that modern slavery exists in every country. We are all responsible for the most appalling situations where modern slavery exists and the desperate misery it brings upon our fellow human beings. The first step in eradicating slavery is to measure it. And with that critical information, we must all come together – governments, businesses and civil society – to finally bring an end to the most severe form of exploitation.”

Mauritania has the highest proportion (prevalence) of its population in modern slavery, at 4%, followed by Uzbekistan (3.97%), Haiti (2.3%), Qatar (1.36%) and India (1.14%).

Iceland and Luxembourg have the lowest number of people enslaved in both prevalence and in absolute numbers, estimated at less than 100 each, closely followed by Ireland with under 300.

Modern slavery involves one person possessing or controlling another person in such as a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty, with the intention of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal.

Modern slavery contributes to the production of at least 122 goods from 58 countries worldwide. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates the illicit profits of forced labour to be $150 billion a year.

The report says, “India’s modern slavery challenges are immense. Across India’s population of over 1.2 billion people, all forms of modern slavery, including inter-generational bonded labour, trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced marriage, exist. Evidence suggests that members of lower castes and tribes, religious minorities and migrant workers are disproportionately affected by modern slavery. Modern slavery occurs in brick kilns, carpet weaving, embroidery and other textile manufacturing, forced prostitution, agriculture, domestic servitude, mining, and organised begging rings. labour is particularly prevalent throughout India with families enslaved for generations.”

“There are reports of women and children from India being recruited with promises of non-existent jobs and later sold for sexual exploitation, or forced into sham marriages. In some religious groups, pre-pubescent girls are sold for sexual servitude in temples. Recent reports suggest that one child goes missing every eight minutes; it is feared that some are sold into forced begging, domestic work, and commercial sexual exploitation.”

According to the report, on paper, criminal justice reforms specific to human trafficking are the strongest component of India’s response to modern slavery. In 2013, the government amended the Indian Penal code to include specific anti-trafficking provisions. In 2014, the government expanded the number of police anti-human trafficking units across the country to 215 units, aiming to establish a unit in 650 districts.

The judiciary and over 20,000 law enforcement have received training on victim identification, the new legal framework, and victim-centered investigations.

The report says: “Dalits have the least social protections and are highly vulnerable to severe forms of exploitation and modern slavery. Approximately 90 percent of India’s labourers are in the informal economy.”

Kept as sex slave in Gujarat, Jabalpur woman wriggles out of hellhole

TIMES OF INDIA

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh police arrested a couple who sold a woman in Gujarat where she was kept as a sex slave. Accused Ritesh Barman and wife Mona, are residents of Gorakhpur area in Jabalpur district. They confessed to having sold the 35-year-old woman to one ‘Popet Bhai’ in Gujarat for Rs 1.25 lakh.

Popet sold her to a Patel family in Junagarh for Rs 1.80 lakh. She was kept hostage and repeatedly raped, besides being forced to work as bonded labour. She wriggled out of their clutches and reached Jabalpur on October 23.

On October 29, when two people came to Jabalpur and tried to kidnap her, she went to the police and narrated her ordeal. The rape survivor alleged she was raped by one Bhawan Patel, Vallabh Patel and other members of the family.

Police said, she was a mother of two and was working as a domestic help in Jabalpur. The Barman couple took her to Gujarat, promising better pay. During interrogation, police found more girls had been trafficked from the state and sold in Gurajat by Popet Bhai. Teams have been dispatched to Gujarat to arrest him. A case has been lodged against five people, including Popet.