18 arrested for involvement in child labour in Andhra

Vijayawada, Aug 19: Authorities in Andhra Pradesh have arrested 18 people for alleged involvement in a child labour racket and rescued 67 children, an official said today.

District collector Navin Mittal told reporters here that of these children, 41 belonged to Mantada village and most of them were employed in Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam. Some were even sent to other cities like Mumbai. 26 children were yet to be traced and the district administration has filed cases against the agents who hired them. Action would be taken against the employers, he said.

Mittal said the child labour racket had been going on for several years with the consent of parents. While a broker got Rs 1500 per child, the parents are given amounts between Rs 18,000 and Rs 12,000.

A total of 3,000 such cases were unearthed last year while 1,620 were exposed since April this year, he added.

A special school has been established from August 1 by Navajeevan Bala Bhavan under the sponsorship of the National Child Labour Project in Mantada, where educational and vocational training are provided to the rescued children. The school also provides a mid-day meal and Rs 100 as stipend per month to each child.

Some more schools will be set up in future, he said.

Of the 67 children, 26 belonged to Vijayanagaram, Srikakulam and Rajahmundry, and have been sent back to their respective places, he said.

In the district, seven mandals have been declared as child labour-free areas.

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Human Trafficking – Second Most Profit-making Business in World

Bangalore, Aug 26: S B Uday Kumar, Co-ordinator, Campaign Against Child Trafficking (CACT) said on Friday August 25, that the human trafficking earns Rs 63,300 crores revenue every year all over the world.
Speaking at a one-day symposium on ‘child trafficking’, he said that according to a report from United Nations, human trafficking has emerged as the second largest profit making business in the world.
”As the human trafficking takes place secretively and is not seen in the public, it has not been able to strike the public attention,” he said.
He said that child abuse is widely found in the forms of forced and bonded labour, pornography, sex tourism, begging, smuggling, domestic labour and child marriage. Uday further said that the government needs to do a thorough follow up of such trafficking in the society.
Deputy Director to Women and Child Welfare Department N Munireddy said that the department has framed committees in Gram Panchayat, Taluk and District levels to prevent child trafficking.
These committees are headed by a Deputy Commissioner at the district level or a Gram Panchayat member at the Gram Panchayat level. The committee members also include people from a few local NGOs and officials from the women and child welfare department.
They will vigil the trafficking in their limits and if any such cases are found, they will bring it to the attention of he government. “We are planning to train these committees and bring awareness through workshop. This has been sanctioned in this budget,” he added.
However, he said that such workshops have already been conducted in Bidar, Gulbarga and Raichur in association with UNICEF.
Dr Sujatha of Makkala Sahayavani and Pankaja Kalmutt of CACT were also present.

Indians held in Nepal for trafficking

Indians held in Nepal for trafficking[ 25 Aug, 2006 1541hrs ISTIANS ]

KATHMANDU: Two Indian nationals have been arrested in Nepal on the charge of girl trafficking. The two men, whose names were given as KS Narayan and Parameshwar Pandey, were arrested in Nepalgunj town, for allegedly trying to take away a 10-year-old Nepali girl from the Shitalnagar area of the town, the official Rastriya Samachar Samiti said. However, the state media did not say when the men were arrested or give any further details. Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world, is also one of the worst victims of trafficking. Every year, thousands of women and children are trafficked across its southern border to neighbouring India, where they are either sold in brothels or forced to work as meagerly paid labourers or domestic help. Through India, they are also sent out to the Middle East countries.

UCAN: Human trafficking top rights challenge, Catholic nun tells interfaith leaders
8/25/2006
UCANews (www.ucanews.com)

RANCHI, India (UCAN) – A Catholic group in Jharkhand reached out to clerics of various religions to obtain their help in combating human trafficking.
Young women from the eastern Indian state are lured to major Indian cities with the promise of lucrative jobs and forced into the flesh trade, says Ursuline Sister Jemma Toppo, who coordinates the Jharkhand Domestic Workers’ Welfare Trust.
“One of the most serious challenges facing human rights today” is human trafficking in its various forms, the nun told about 500 clerics from Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and traditional tribal religions during an Aug. 21 meeting.
The clerics came from various parts of the state for the gathering organized by Sister Toppo’s group and the Jharkhand unit of Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children, an NGO.
The meeting in the state capital of Ranchi, 1,160 kilometers (720 miles) southeast of New Delhi, provided a forum for the clerics of all major religions in Jharkhand to address various social evils in the state.
It began with the Catholic nun asking the group whether the women and girls of their communities are safe away from home. “Are you aware where they are and what work they do?” she asked and urged them to try to understand the plight the women could face. “Only then you will be able to save your women and daughters,” she added.
Sister Toppo listed poverty, illiteracy and a lack of awareness rampant in villages as “the root cause of the menace.” According to her, agents visit villages with videocassettes showing rich houses and offices in cities and promise young women jobs if they go with them.
“They also use religious symbols to gain women’s faith,” said the nun, who heads Asha Kiran (ray of hope), a shelter for rescued domestic workers. Only “a robust response” from society can solve this problem, she asserted.
Speaking with UCA News after the meeting, Sister Toppo said the Catholic Church has made a tremendous effort to stop the trafficking of women and girls, and believes it has succeeded among Christian tribal people.
Catholic parents now keep track of their daughters working as maids in cities, but “we cannot reach fully” girls from traditional tribal and other groups. “That’s why we want to involve priests of all religions,” she explained, saying tribal and other groups revere and obey their priests.
Sanjay Mishra, president of Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children, agreed that only “concerted efforts” from all groups could tackle the “menace of trafficking.” He told UCA News his group felt encouraged that clergy of all religions attended the meeting.
“We managed to convince them about the consequences of woman and child trafficking, and the importance of their role in stopping trafficking,” Mishra explained. According to the activist, the clerics agreed to take up the matter seriously.
Several clerics later confirmed to UCA News that the meeting helped them understand the gravity of the situation.
Pundit Chandrashekhar, a Hindu priest, said saving women and children from flesh traders should be the foremost religious duty of the priests. He said indifference among priests of various religions has encouraged unchecked trafficking of women from Jharkhand, but their new forum would help the priests to jointly crusade against the social evil.
He commended the church’s efforts to highlight the problem and agreed with Amar Dahanga, a Sarna (traditional tribal religion) priest, that the meeting opened their eyes “to save our women and daughters.”
The Hindu priest said Hinduism reveres women as goddesses and accords them “special respect and place in the society.”
The tribal priest noted that many girls who leave the villages never return, while some come back mentally and physically destroyed. “Most parents are illiterate and can be easily tricked,” he added.
Rev. Abraham Soy, a pastor of the Protestant Church of North India, said the church had worked only within the Christian community to check the problem, but “after this meeting we will start working cooperatively.”
Jesuit Father Linus Kujur, who attended the meeting, said the clerics have to work seriously to enlighten their people about criminals “masquerading as job agents” in the villages.

Police crack down on prostitution in Agra

Agra – More and more girls, some still infants, are being groomed to become prostitutes in the Taj Mahal city of Agra. But the police are determined to end it all.
The innocent girls, brought here from other parts of northern India, are being allegedly injected hormones to induce puberty. Some are being registered in schools with names of strangers as their mothers.
Agra Police freed about 20 girls, aged between 2 and 15, following half a dozen raids this month at the Basai red light zone, barely a stone’s throw from the majestic Taj, one of the world’s leading tourist attractions.
Only recently three girls were rescued from the house of a middleman engaged in women trafficking. Police say they were to be sold to ‘contacts’ in Mumbai.
In another raid, three girls, including a two-year-old, were freed. Five women and nine men were held on charges of trapping them in the flesh trade.
The police also rescued several girls from areas such as Mal ka Bazar, Kashmiri Bazar, Seo ka Bazar, Sir ki Mandi and Sikandra.
Apart from the ‘kothas’ (traditional prostitution joints), some up-market residential colonies like Shahid Nagar, Gulmohar Enclave and Awas Vikas Nigam were also searched.
All this is part of an ‘all-out war’ Senior Superintendent of Police Dinesh Juneja has launched against prostitution in Agra, which attracts thousands of Indian and foreign tourists every day.
NGOs and women’s groups have expressed concern over reports of young girls being injected with hormones to induce puberty.
‘Hormone injections can lead to many health problems including cervical cancer,’ Netra Pal Singh, counsellor at the All India Women’s Conference, told IANS.
Medical tests conducted on girls freed from the clutches of women who claimed to be their mothers revealed that they were not blood related.
One such woman, Reshma, claimed that the girls taken from her custody were her daughters. The police got her examined at the Government Women’s Hospital here where a doctor, Neeta Kulshrshtra, ruled that Reshma had never given birth to any child.
The girls had been tutored to say that Reshma was their mother.
Another woman from the Shahidnagar area also claimed that the girl she was living with was her daughter. A DNA test confirmed she was not.
The police have vowed to continue their crackdown on Agra’s booming flesh trade.
Said Rajesh Dwivedi, the officer who heads the Taj Ganj police station close to the marble monument: ‘We will step up our drive against prostitution.’

http://indiaenews.com/2006-08/19784-police-crack-prostitution-agra.htm

Using nearly nude pictures, child sex sites test laws

In the photograph, the model is shown rising out of a bubble bath, suds dripping from her body. Her tight panties and skimpy top are soaked and revealing. She gazes at the viewer, her face showing a wisp of a smile that seems to have been coaxed from off-camera. In just over seven months, the model has become an online phenomenon. She has thousands of fans from around the world, membership lists show, who pay as much as $30 a month to see images of her.

According to the posted schedule, new photographs of her many clearly intended to be erotic, all supposedly taken that week are posted online every Friday for her growing legions of admirers. The model’s online name is Sparkle. She is at most 9 years old. Sparkle is one of hundreds of children being photographed by adults, part of what appears to be the latest trend in online child exploitation: Web sites for pedophiles offering explicit, sexualised images of children who are covered by bits of clothing all in the questionable hope of allowing producers, distributors and customers to avoid child pornography charges. In recent months, an array of investigations of the child pornography business have contributed to wholesale shutdowns of some of the most sexually explicit Internet sites trafficking in child images.

But they have been rapidly replaced by a growing number of these so-called model sites, Internet locations that offer scores of original photographs of scantily clad under-age children like Sparkle, often posed in ways requested by subscribers. More than 200 of the sites have been found by the New York Times through online advertising aimed at pedophiles, and a vast majority focus mostly on one child. Almost all kids appear to be between the ages of 2 and 12.

Based on descriptions in online customer forums and in Web pages showing image samples, the children are photographed by people who have frequent access to them. The sites often include images of “guests”: children who are described as a friend of the featured child, but who appear for only a day. The sites say the children come from different parts of the world. Based on the images and wording from online advertisements, the sites show toddlers wearing tight thongs, and slightly older children posing evocatively, wearing makeup.

There is even a site that offers images of kids who appear to be 5 or 6 years old, wearing just diapers. In online conversations observed by NYT over four months, pedophiles portrayed model sites as the last of a shrinking number of Internet locations for sexual images of minors. “I considered authors of those sites as leaders of a rebellion movement for child porn,” a man calling himself Heartfallen wrote in an online site for pedophiles, discussing the decline in the number of sites featuring images of naked minors. “They’ve vanished. There’s much less freedom on the Net now. We still have a rebellion of non-nude child modelling sites. But are they going to suffer the same fate as their predecessors?”

NYT News service

PM Calls For More Efficient And Effective Judicial Machinery

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PM Calls For More Efficient And Effective Judicial Machinery

19 August, 2006

Emphasizing the need to protect the rights of the weak and the dispossessed and to make rule of law a living reality for millions of our people, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh called for a more efficient and effective judicial machinery.

Inaugurating the National Meet on Social Justice and Legal Empowerment organized by the National Legal Services Authority here today, the Prime Minister observed that it is the responsibility of each of the pillars of our democracy – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary itself. “I assure you that our Government will extend full support to the judiciary to realize these shared objectives of good governance”, he added.

Stating that an effective, efficient and humane judiciary is an essential foundation of good governance, Dr. Singh said, “The greatest challenge in this regard is in fact at the bottom of the pyramid where most of our citizens come in contact with the judiciary. The lower courts, the district courts, the courts that deal with petty offences, these are the ones that must be sensitized most to the concerns we are dealing with today. They are at the cutting edge of our governance.”

Expressing concern over the delays in disposal of cases and the consequent backlog, cost of litigation, probity – or the lack of it – in some sections of the judiciary, Dr. Singh stressed that it is incumbent upon any healthy institution to continue to reflect from time to time on its role, on the expectations from it and on the scope for improvement.

The Chief Justice of India, Union Minister for Law and Justice, senior Judges of the Supreme Court, several Chief Ministers and legal luminaries participated in the function.

Following is the full text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion.

“I am delighted to inaugurate this very important meeting on social justice and legal empowerment. I compliment the National Legal Services Authority for bringing together important representatives of the judiciary, the legislature, the Executive branch of Government and civil society representatives to discuss issues of vital concern to our people and to the future of our country.

I convey my very sincere appreciation of the wise and supportive leadership provided to the National Legal Services Authority by the Hon’ble Chief Justice, Justice Sabharwal and Justice Balakrishnan, Chairman of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee. Under his chairmanship this Authority has undertaken laudable efforts to empower our citizens. Our Government will extend full cooperation to the judiciary in this noble endeavour. I hope we can all work together to realize the underlying social vision of the authors of our Constitution and the wisdom and knowledge of the founding fathers of our Republic.

Our Government believes that democracy has no meaning for the citizens unless the citizen is able to secure his basic human rights, namely education, employment and the right to live a life of dignity and self-respect. It is in this context that the social and economic revolution that is now under implementation in a country like India has great significance for the future of entire humankind. Nowhere else you find a country of a billion people seeking its social and economic emancipation in the framework of an open society and an open economy and a polity committed to the rule of law and respect for fundamental human values. Our success will have profound implications for the evolution of humankind and the progress it makes in this twenty-first century. It gs without saying that along with economic and social empowerment of the people, legal empowerment is an important means to each of these ends. And that’s why, the great importance of the work that you are engaged.

Our government has taken several initiatives to revitalize our judicial system and legally empower our people. The National Common Minimum Programme places great emphasis on legal empowerment of all sections of our society, particularly the weaker sections. It is our sincere commitment to make our judicial section sensitive to the rights and needs of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes, minorities and above all our women.

I am proud of the fact that the National Legal Literacy Mission is working hard to enable our people to derive the full benefits of the legal rights they enjoy as citizens of our proud Republic. Often the ignorance of law comes in the way of people asserting their rights and discharging their obligations. If people do not know the law, how can they be expected to abide by it? This becomes a major hindrance to the successful implementation of any legislation and contributes to the violation of laws. A large number of cases of violations are due to low legal literacy. Hence the Legal Literacy Mission seeks to promote legal awareness, redressing social and economic imbalances.

I am, therefore, very happy that the National Legal Services Authority has taken the initiative to implement Project Nyaya Sankalp. This project aims to sensitise our judiciary to the cause of social justice and seek social protection for victims and survivors of trafficking and HIV/AIDS. I compliment you on making this one of the areas of focus of your meeting today.

Sensitising each of the institutions of our democracy to the needs and concerns of the under-privileged is one of our top policy priorities. As I said earlier this week, in my Independence Day address to the nation, the rule of law can become a living reality for millions and millions of our people, only if the rights of law-abiding citizens are effectively protected and safeguarded. Only if justice is seen to be delivered and delivered in time only if the rights of the weak and the dispossessed are protected.

For this we need a more efficient and more effective judicial machinery . A humane and a well-equipped judiciary. This is the responsibility of each of the pillars of our democracy – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary itself. I assure you that our Government will extend full support to the judiciary to realize these shared objectives of good governance.

I say this because there are concerns often voiced in various quarters about the delays in disposal of cases and the consequent backlog that has built up over the years. There is concern about the cost of litigation and the cost of obtaining justice. There is growing concern also about probity – or the lack of it – in some sections of the judiciary. I have said this before, and I say this again, that we take great pride in the quality and effectiveness of our judicial system. But in the larger scheme of governance, it is incumbent upon any healthy institution to continue to reflect from time to time on its role, on the expectations from it and on the scope for improvement. This will help us take steps to improve our performance and to meet the fast changing needs of the times that we live in. Above all, it will make our justice delivery system more sensitive to the needs of the poorest of our people. Especially those who are most discriminated against in our society.

A judicial system is a dispute resolution system and it must be recognized as a “service” which provides consumers expeditious and effective resolution of these disputes. It offers a mechanism for the enforcement of rights and obligations of individuals, a function which is essential in a functioning polity or for that matter a functioning economy. Therefore, an effective, efficient and humane judicial process is an essential foundation of good governance particularly in a country like ours, committed to the rule of law.

The greatest challenge in this regard is in fact at the bottom of the pyramid where most of our citizens come in contact with the judiciary. The lower courts, the district courts, the courts that deal with petty offences, these are the ones that must be sensitized most to the concerns we are dealing with today. They are at the cutting edge of our governance.

I sincerely hope this interaction between the political executive, state and district level officials and members of the judiciary will help us work together in the service of our people. I wish your deliberations all success.”