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.)

Bengal tops UN list of missing kids, Women

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KOLKATA: More than 13,000 women and children from Bengal went untraceable in 2011. Where did they go? Were they abducted? Were they sold for money? Are they still alive? None has an answer. The year before, around 28,000 women and children went missing and 19,000 of them remained untraceable.

Missing women and children are ever increasing numbers in government files and reports by various organizations. But for their families, the hope never dies. they are lives, dearer than their own.

The Barui (name changed) family of Madhyamgram spent sleepless nights when their 16-year-old daughter did not contact them for more than six months. Last year, a neighbour took her along with him to Burdwan promising her a get her a governess’ job at a doctor’s house in Burdwan. Never could her mother and brother imagine that she would land up in a dingy hotel in Ahmedabad where she will be forced into prostitution.

The girl was lucky enough to get a chance to call her brother after six months. Her brother got in touch with the local police, who sent a team and conducted a joint raid with the Ahmedabad police. But not all are lucky like this girl.

The recent report of United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) titled ‘Anti Human Trafficking, 2013′ revealed that out of over 19,000 women and children reported missing in West Bengal in 2011, only 6,000 could be traced.

The report, currently with the Union home ministry, gives the number of women and children went missing between 2009 and 2011. Bengal, with a huge porous international border (2,217 kms with Bangladesh, 92 kms with Nepal and 175 kms with Bhutan)

tops the list. From Jalpaiguri in north to North and South 24 Parganas in south Bengal almost all districts of the state are vulnerable to trafficking.

On the northern side districts like Darjeeling, North and South Dinajpur, Cooch Behar and Malda having international borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan are identified as trafficking prone. The districts of North and South 24 Parganas are other vulnerable areas prone to trafficking on the southern side.

“The prevalence is highest in three districts in Bengal, including Murshidabad, North and South 24-Parganas. It mostly poverty-driven and can only be stopped with a large-scale livelihood programmes,” a senior IPS officer who was closely associated with an anti-trafficking drive in the state, said. “In 2001, number of missing children in West Bengal was 368 whereas in 2010 the figure was 8,599. In 2010 the number of missing women from Bengal stood at 6,514, compared to only 196 in 2001 the number of missing women was 196 whereas in,” the report said.

“Natural disasters leading to poverty and a general condition of hunger are two major reasons. Lack of awareness and declining value system are other factors,” said Manabendra Mandal, director of Socio-Legal Aid Research and Training Center. “The figures quoted by UNODC seems lower than the actual as they are based on police records. But in several cases these are not reported,” Mandal said.

Children and women from Bengal are mostly trafficked to Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, revealed the study. After this the destinations are Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. Some new destinations that have been identified are Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Haridwar, the report found after ten months of intensive consultations with various government and non-government stakeholders.

“The challenge lies in getting it reported when a victim is being trafficked. In order to reach out to people, we want to promote the reporting of cases of missing children through cellphones,” said Manabendra Nath Ray, deputy programme director, Save The Children, India. “To report a missing child or sighting of an unaccompanied child, a member of the public will call a dedicated number to report the case,” he said.

Shakti Vahini, one of the NGOs active in trafficking issues, felt that CID has been able to increase tracing of trafficked victims. The United nations office points out that despite legal provisions there has been increasing reports of women being trafficked into prostitution in the name of domestic workers or stage performers in Middle East countries. Illegal recruitment agencies are very active in the North East, North Bengal, Kerala and Maharashtra.

Delhi court upholds sex worker’s dignity, jails rapists

PUBLISHED IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

Four men who raped a Rwandan woman refugee in Delhi just weeks before the brutal December 16 gang rape shook the Capital have been found guilty and sentenced to the maximum penalty of 10 years in jail by a Delhi court.

The men, in their defence, had claimed the woman was a prostitute and an illegal immigrant who had falsely implicated them to find an excuse to stay on in the country. The court, however, said their argument “deserves to be rejected outright”.

During her cross-examination, the woman said she previously worked as a prostitute. However, the judge said it was irrelevant to the case.

“Simply because the victim worked as a sex worker before the incident in question doesn’t confer any right upon anyone to violate her dignity,” additional sessions judge Kaveri Baweja said.

The court further noted that DNA evidence found on the convicts left no doubt there were physical relations between them and the rape survivor, adding “it is not the claim of the accused that the prosecutrix entered into sexual relations with the accused voluntarily”.

“This is a good judgment. The ministry of women and child has already clarified that no action needs to be taken against foreign nationals who may have been brought here and forced into trafficking. It’s good that the court has reinforced this stand,” Ravi Kant, president of NGO Shakti Vahini that works for gender equality, told HT.

The convicts Deepak, Praveen, Vikas and Ashok Ekka — all Delhi residents — were sentenced to 10 years in jail for gang-rape and abduction.

They were also ordered to pay a compensation of Rs. 59,000 to the rape survivor. According to the rape survivor’s statement, she was walking towards Gandhi Nagar around 7pm on December 1, 2012 when three men in a car grabbed her.

She was then drugged, brutally beaten and raped in the moving car before she lost consciousness. She woke up naked and bleeding on the banks of the Yamuna. Her clothes, wallet and money were later recovered from the homes of the accused.

NCW set to propose legalisation of sex trade, Centre expresses displeasure

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS3MM_W635k

New Delhi: The National Commission for Women (NCW) is set to propose legalisation of sex trade to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court but according to sources the Women & Child Development ministry isn’t in favour the idea.

Ever since the news of the National Commission for Women’s deciding to propose legalizing sex trade before a Supreme Court constituted panel, a debate has been raging. In the dark dingy lanes of Delhi’s infamous red light area, GB road, it’s always been business as usual.

It’s unclear how many of these women opt into the flesh trade… and how many are forced into it by others – But an overwhelming majority seemed to back the idea of legalising prostitution.

“If it’s legalised then we won’t get harrased by police..we would have the rights to file a complaint against a customer ,” said a sex worker but there’s also a huge segment against this, “traffickers were get emboldened – rehabilitate us, don’t legalise it,” said another sex worker.

Some members of the SC appointed panel too have their reservations. Making brothels legal will make them vulnerable, we are against any move to legalise prostitution, said president of Shakti Vahini Ravi Kant. .

While the NCW chief who made headlines with her statements supporting legalisation, has suddently gone mum on the issue, “Won’t comment on sex workers issue,” said Laitha.

Women’s groups too are deeply divided, Shabnam Khan said, “It’s a good move provided they get all facilities like helath care etc.”

While women & child ministry hasn’t commented on the issue yet – A delegation of members of women’s groups in India met NCW chairperson and submitted a memorandum urging it to go in for a national-level consultation with all sections on the matter.

Domestic helps to knock Modi’s door

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Still in a daze, the mother of the 14-year-old maid found dead at a house in an upscale Gurgaon locality, in January, kept up her demand for justice. The postmortem has established sexual abuse though the girl’s employers alleged suicide. Her account of the unhelpful police—no one has been arrested—at a public meeting packed with domestic workers on Tuesday once again pressed home the need for a central legislation to regulate this sector.

Now, domestic workers, under the banner of National Platform for Domestic Workers, a group of NGOs, have decided to knock on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s door, asking for the pending legislation to be enacted. In the summer of 2013, thousands of domestic workers converged on the streets of Delhi, demanding a central law. They submitted a petition to committees in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on July 31, 2013. The Congress-led UPA government had failed to enact the legislation and now, one and a half years later, men and women engaged in housework in cities are still waiting for their due.

The country is estimated to have over 50 million such workers. On Tuesday, household helps in the city came together to voice their concerns. The girl’s mother was among the workers who testified to the abuse and denial of workers’ rights before an eminent jury headed by the chairperson of the National Women’s Commission, Lalitha Kumaramangalam. Dr P M Nair, retd DIG (trafficking), now at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and S C Srivastava of the National Labour Law Association were part of the jury. The organizer, NPDW, comprises trade unions and organizations of domestic workers from around the country. The participants who spoke were both full-time and part-time workers, including those trafficked for labour by individuals and unscrupulous placement agencies.

Besides a central legislation, NPDW also wants the ratification of the ILO Convention 189, Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which was passed in June 2011. The central law for domestic workers should regulate employment and work conditions, fix wages and hours, regulate placement agencies and provide a mechanism for resolution of disputes and protection of employment. Social protection provisions should include social security, health, education, childcare, housing, skill training and pensions, affirmed the NPDW.

Subhash Bhatnagar, activist and lead member of NPDW, said beginning with the Domestic Workers (Conditions of Employment) Bill, 1959, there’ve been many attempts to control this sector, but without success. The most recent attempt was the Domestic Workers (Conditions of Service) Bill, 2009. There still isn’t a central act to protect the largest and fastest-growing sector of employment for women in urban areas.

Our very own Malala: trafficked at 12, crusader and global Girl Hero at 18

trafficking story

PUBLISHED IN THE TELEGRAPH03metlady_184626

Anoyara Khatun was all of 13 when she led an army of children across a canal at midnight, caught a trafficker and saved a family on the verge of losing their teenage daughter to a trafficking ploy in the name of marriage.

She has since managed to save at least 50 minor girls from child marriage.

n A few months after her first act of courage, Anoyara managed to pin down a trafficking tout along with a battalion of children and taught him a lesson he would find hard to forget.

Till date, she has foiled nearly 85 trafficking attempts, helped rescue and reunite more than 200 children with their families and got 200 dropouts back into school.

n The following year, when former education minister Kanti Biswas was on his way back from a village in Sandeshkhali in the Sunderbans, Anoyara and her army of kids trooped in, blocked his path and forced him to accede to their demand to build more schools in the village.

03metanwara15_184914Today, Sandeshkhali has 84 schools.

The first thing that strikes you about Anoyara, 18, is that her eyes speak. They are large, luminous and transfix you at once.

She is seated on a stool outside the Dhagagia Social Welfare Society’s office in Sandeshkhali, her face radiant in the afternoon sun as she contemplates the world around her.

“Don’t you think this place is beautiful?” she asks, her eyes scanning the expanse of green on one side and the water bodies on the other.

She is clearly in love with the hinterland to which she belongs and has taken upon herself to protect.

Her world wasn’t always so beautiful. It couldn’t have been after being trafficked at 12.

But this powerhouse of a girl from Chhoto Askara, a tiny village that is part of Bengal’s most trafficking-prone belt, isn’t the type to dwell in the past. Anoyara has not only left her private hell behind but also rebuilt her life as an activist leading an army of children who battle trafficking and child marriage in quirky little ways.

Her courage and commitment to protecting the girl child has been widely recognised, the biggest honour coming from the foundation led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

03metleadAnoyara is one of the “Girl Heroes” from across the world that the Malala Fund is currently celebrating for 30 days — from October 11 to November 9 — as a beacon of “exemplary courage and leadership”.

The Malala Fund, which focuses on helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education, has tagged Anoyara as “#StrongerThan Social Ills like Child Trafficking and Early Marriage” and anointed her a “true Girl Hero”.

But long before Anoyara emerged as a force against exploitation, she had to grapple with a dark and traumatic phase in her life.

Born in 1996 as the youngest among four siblings — three sisters and a brother — Anoyara lost her father when she was five. Her mother began working as a cook in a local school to feed the family but life was hard.

“I was going to school but had to drop out when I was in Class VI,” recalls Anoyara, who doesn’t like to revisit her past. “I don’t like to talk about what I have left behind. I like to talk about how I am moving forward in life,” she says with a conviction nobody can defy.

Anoyara was barely 12 when she was trafficked to Delhi and forced into domestic labour, a hellhole she managed to run away from after a year. The transition from victim to victor was quick, a trait that has since defined her work as an activist.

Anoyara reels off a list of activities she and her children’s groups in the area have been involved in to spread awareness among villagers about child marriage and trafficking.

We also learn that she is now the leader of as many as 80 children’s groups across 40 villages in Sandeshkhali.

These groups are all affiliated to Save the Children and the Dhagagia Social Welfare Society-run multi-activity centre, which Anoyara had joined when she was 13.

“There were only 10 groups when I joined and then I got more girls like me to join in. Now there are more than 1,600 children and I keep track of all of them!” she smiles, holding up the Nokia C1 phone that she uses to keep in touch with her groups.

“I got this (the phone) three years ago as a prize in Ranchi. It helps me in my work because I can connect with people and children’s groups can call me any time.”

For a fleeting moment, the child in the 18-year-old surfaces. “We don’t have a television at home but I can listen to songs on this phone. Nachiketa and Shreya Ghoshal are my favourites,” Anoyara says, breaking into a smile.

She quickly goes back to describing how her groups operate around Sandeshkhali I and II and Minakhan, quizzing families on the whereabouts of children they have married off or sent out with strangers to work. “You know, my sisters were all married off at 13 or 14. None of us knew anything about child marriage at the time. For us, it was a custom,” she recounts.

Her sharp eyes soften as the conversation delves deeper into the subject. “When you endure a lot of pain, trouble and misery, you take it as a challenge to overcome that. Adversity was my driving force. I realised that if I didn’t bounce back from my ordeal, many more girls from Sandeshkhali would go missing. It became a mission and a challenge to myself to put a stop to exploitation of children and keep them from falling into the dangerous trap of trafficking or child marriage.”

But turning pain into power was far from easy for Anoyara, who had just stepped into her teens when her mission began.

“Before reaching out to people in the villages, I had to convince my own family to allow me to step out of the house. I reminded them of the pain they had gone through when I was away and how important it was to get other families to realise the dangers too,” she says.

Breaking the ice with villagers indifferent to “worldly advice” from a bunch of “precocious children” was the next challenge. “They would say, ‘What do you kids know? Who are you to tell us?’ It was difficult to get the elders to pay attention to us but we never gave up. We would keep visiting them endlessly till they were convinced and clear about what we as children were trying to tell them.”

Anoyara’s courage came to the fore when she saved a girl from the clutches of touts and captured the men with help of a group of children her age. “In our village, people go to sleep by eight and children aren’t allowed outside. I managed to get out of the house, take some friends along, chased the traffickers across the village, jumped canals and caught them. It was a huge risk but it changed the way elders looked at us.”

She went on to become a role model in her village and the adjoining areas, employing out-of-the-box strategies for her children’s army to stalk, spot, seize and hand over traffickers to the authorities.

“Our first rule is to follow any outsider we see in the village and pass the message to each other at the multi-activity centre. If we find them going into a house, two or three of us will playfully saunter in, hang around, eavesdrop on the conversation and then come back and report to the group,” she reveals.

“If we realise that the person has wrong intentions and could be a potential trafficker, we immediately meet the child in question and explain why they should not go away with the stranger. Then we go and meet the family as a group to help them understand too. And if we find them running away with a child, we will drag them to the centre of the village and tie them up.”

While some traffickers mend their ways and even join the child protection committees in the villages, others don’t dare enter Anoyara’s territory again.

She takes you to a multi-activity centre to meet one of the children’s groups with a spring in her step, smiling at the children who squeal: “Didi! Didi!”

“How are you? Have you eaten? Why are you looking glum? Smile!” Anoyara tells the children, later joining them in a game of Chinese Whispers.

Keya Parvin, a 15-year-old member of one of the children’s groups, has something to tell us. “Do you know that once we children raided a wedding and stopped a family from marrying off a child? We have learnt so much from Didi. All of us want to be like her.”

The advantages of being a child activist are many, according to Anoyara. “Children will always be the first ones to know. And a child will always listen to someone her age and treat her like a friend. An adult would most likely try to instruct,” she says.

“Everyone from Maulvis and Brahmins to village heads and the police listen to us now. But that doesn’t mean we are rebels. We respect elders.”

Anoyara had been nominated for The International Children’s Peace Prize in 2012, an award that went to Malala the next year. Last June, she travelled to Brussels to represent Save The Children in a Global Partnership for Education conference.

Aamar passport hobey, bideshey jabo…bhabtei parini (I couldn’t have imagined that I would have a passport and go abroad). I loved the glass buildings and ate a lot of chocolates. I also met Malala’s father,” recalls Anoyara, who idolises Malala.

“I want to be like her someday. I was so happy the day she won the Nobel. I keep news clippings of her whenever I find one.”

While Anoyara aspires to be like Malala, nothing gives her more satisfaction than bringing a missing girl back home or stopping a child marriage.

She has made it a ritual to organise a big children’s party whenever a trafficked child returns to Sandeshkhali. “We collect money and organise a feast of dal, bhaja and egg curry at the multi-activity centre. We sing, dance and play from morning till evening. And then, like a friend, we get the rescued child to talk to us, share her misery and join our group.”

For Anoyara, the joy comes from providing the love and protection that she had once yearned for. “What I didn’t get I try to give to others,” she says.

Alongside her busy schedule, Anoyara is studying for her graduation in a local college. She is the first from her village to go this far.

An average day in her life means waking up at 6am, reading namaz and tutoring 25 children before leaving for college. Back home by 4pm, she goes around her village checking on the children.

Like most teenage girls, Anoyara loves her trinkets, kajal and the colour pink. The one thing that irks her is the idea of keeping pets. “I love cats and dogs but I don’t like the idea of caging anyone, be it animals or humans. They should all be set free.”

Her refuge from the nightmare of being caged is a little diary full of songs and poems. They are all about human trafficking and tell you a bit about her suffering as a child. “Mon kharap holei aami likhi (I write when I am sad),” she says.

Her ambition is to learn English, computers and cycling. “I think these will make me braver,” she says, not bothering to elaborate.

Once again her eyes do the talking.

What message do you have for Anoyara Khatun? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com