Allow better migration, India tells developed world

Indo-Asian News ServiceNew York, September 15, 2006

India wants developed countries to show greater openness in allowing movement of people across national frontiers, as a rise in migration from developing countries also raises incomes of their own citizens, said Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed here.

The developed world should also show greater political will and determination for a successful conclusion of negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in four key areas, Ahamed said at a United Nations conference here on Thursday.

In the context of globalisation there is need to recognise the inevitability of international migration. This presents challenges and opportunities, including the increased demand for specialists in developed countries to strengthen their international competitiveness, he said.

High income countries must address the legitimate needs of migrants, including receiving back their pension benefits and social security contributions, especially in cases of migration of shorter durations.

The lack of appropriate or matching structures in the country of origin should not be made an excuse for the denial of a migrant’s legitimate pension benefits. Efforts, especially in the case of short duration migrants, also need to be made to reduce the cost of remittances, Ahamed said.

There is no restriction in India on migrating overseas. New Delhi favoured a regular, non-discriminatory and orderly process, whether for permanent or shorter-term migration.

Artificial barriers to migration by high-income countries should not be created. The receiving as well as sending countries act to reinforce the positives from migration and work together in a cooperative atmosphere while being sensitive to each other’s concerns.

India also believes that countries of origin benefit from the return of migrants with skills or capital that they would not have acquired at home. ‘Brain drain’ as a result of migration of skilled and highly trained people can also be translated into an overall gain, he said.

In the context of international migration today, the problematic facet of irregular migration, which is a cause of concern for our collective well-being, also needed to be noted.

There are serious security implications, including the use of irregular migrants as an instrument for cross-border terrorism and for creating social tension in the host country. This needs to be tackled with a firm resolve.

A similar firm resolve is required to tackle the scourge of people smuggling and trafficking, especially of women and children, Ahamed said.

India recognises that international migration solutions and approaches relevant for a particular country or region may not be appropriate for others. Thus efforts should focus on promoting teamwork amongst nations, to maximize the benefits of international migration while reducing its negative effects.

India also believes that regular interaction among countries, including at the UN, could result in a win-win situation for all, Ahamed said.

India is a major country of origin, destination and transit of migrants, with a long history of attracting and sending people to other lands, he said in an address to the world body’s first-ever high level gathering on migration and development, he said.

It is estimated that around 20 million people of Indian origin live in other countries while another 20 million migrants, including a large number of irregular migrants, are in India today.

Overseas Indians, through sheer dint of effort, very often in trying circumstances, have significantly contributed to the countries of their destination while, at the same time, playing a positive role in building a bridge with India.

Recognising this, every year India celebrates their achievement with a ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Divas’ or Day of the Indian Migrant and has taken several innovative investment and policy initiatives including the ‘Overseas Citizenship of India’, Ahamed said.

In his address to the opening of the conference, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said the landmark meeting is taking place at a time when the world increasingly appreciates that migrants can transform their adopted and native countries for the better.

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa told the gathering that, “if harnessed constructively, migration can have a profound effect on development”, with migrants’ remittances to their native countries particularly helpful in reducing poverty.

More than 140 speakers – comprising individual States, regional bodies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – are scheduled to discuss the issues over the next two days. In addition to the plenary debate, the meeting will bring delegates together in informal round-table discussions.

Bombay HC Lambasts Police Inaction in Curbing Human Trafficking

State Women’s Commission Wants Police Co Ordination with NGOs

13 September 2006NGOs need to be roped in by the police to crack down on brothels as per the directives of the High Court, Maharashtra Commission for Women’s Chairperson Rajani Satav has suggested.In a statement here yesterday, Ms Satav said police alone could not search crowded areas and brothels to look for minor girls who are victims of human trafficking, and induced into prostitution.The HC had directed to seek CBI help in raiding brothels.A division bench comprising Justices J N Patel and R S Dalvi yesterday observed that to prevent minor girls from being forced into prostitution, the action had to initiate at the police station level.

Bombay HC Lambasts Police Inaction in Curbing Human Trafficking

12 September, 2006The Bombay High Court has hauled up the police for “inaction in curbing human trafficking and prostitution”.A division bench comprising justices J N Patel and R S Dalvi observed that action had to be initiated at the police station level itself to ensure that girls are not forced into prostitution.Coming down heavily on the State Government pleader Satish Borulkar, Justice Patel questioned as to how many police officials had been suspended in the last three years for not taking action against human traffickers.”The court fails to understand why the police commissioner has not been monitoring the problem of human trafficking,” he observed.The court was hearing a petition filed by a non-government organisation “Prerna” which has sought reinvestigation into the case wherein nine girls, who had been rescued from a brothel in 2002, had gone missing.The court was told that the number of minor girls rescued from brothels during the last three years was shocking. As many as 26 girls were rescued in 2003, twelve in 2004, 31 girls were rescued in 2005 and 27 during the current year, the court was told.The matter regarding the nine missing girls was subsequently handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The court today directed the CBI to submit an action plan to enforce the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA). The action plan will be implemented not only in Mumbai and Maharashtra but across the entire country, Additional Solicitor General of India B A Desai told the court on behalf of the CBI.The court also directed Social Service Cell chief, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Enforcement) Sanjay Aparanti, to submit an action taken report within two weeks regarding the nine missing girls who had been rescued from a brothel in Santa Cruz.The court held that the CBI had overriding powers over the police and cannot be prevented from conducting raids at houses and places where such minor girls are kept captive.The court said the CBI should not hesitate to arrest suspects of human trafficking and book them under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).The police and the Social Service Cell must cooperate and coordinate with the CBI in this matter, the court said.(UNI)

Hotels, Restaurants Traffickers’ Contact Centres: Report

Hotels, Restaurants Traffickers’ Contact Centres: Report
THT Online
Kathmandu, September 13

Hotels and restaurants, including cabin and dance restaurants, have turned into ‘contact centres’ for traffickers, the national report (2005), prepared by the National Human Rights Commission, states.
The report on ‘Trafficking in Person especially on Women and Children in Nepal’, launched on Tuesday by the Office of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Women and Children of the National Human Rights Commission, says, “Hotels and restaurants, including cabin restaurants, have turned into ‘contact centres’ for traffickers. The traffickers do not need to go to villages searching for women and girls for trafficking them as the business is done freely at local hotels and restaurants, including cabin and dance restaurants in the Kathmandu valley, where 30,000 women work.”
“The traffickers have begun trafficking women and girls mostly from cabin/dance restaurants of the urban centres and district headquarters. Besides, they have been using border points without adequate patrol along the Nepal-India border for human trafficking. India, apart from being the country of destination, has become the country of transit, too. The girls and women are recruited there as domestic servants as well as sex workers in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai, Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong.”
“Due to the internal political conflict, many women are fleeing the country to work as domestic workers, mainly in the Gulf countries, despite limited funds and harassment by immigration authorities at Kathmandu Airport and Nepal-India border,” the report says.
“In the past, only the women and girls used to be trafficked. Nowadays, even boys and men are trafficked to work forcibly in factories, households and the agriculture sector. Some were even subjected to organ transplantation. The traffickers have been recruiting women and girls from several castes other than traditional trafficking-prone communities such as the Tamangs.
“Political will is necessary to address the problems of trafficking in person effectively. Coordination and networking mechanisms are also essential among organisations involved in anti-trafficking movement. A nationwide data system on human trafficking needs to be developed and women’s rights for better employment opportunities in foreign countries strengthened.”

SAARC conventions ratified

SAARC conventions ratified [ 2006-9-6 ]
RSSKATHMANDU. Sept. 5: The House of Representatives unanimously ratified the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combatting Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution-2002 at its meeting today.Minister of State for Women, Children and Social Welfare Urmila Aryal had presented a proposal at the meeting of the House of Representatives today seeking the House ratify the Convention.Taking part in the deliberations on the Convention, MPs Kunta Sharma, Kamala Panta Acharya, Sabitri Bogati Pathak and Bhadra Bahadur Thapa said that it has become urgent to ratify the Convention in the context of women in their thousands being trafficked from Nepal for prostitution in India and other countries, the persons involved in such crimes not being penalized and arrangements for the rehabilitation of women victims of trafficking and flesh trade not being made.Answering queries raised in course of the discussions, Minister of State Aryal said that the open border between Nepal and India should be well-regulated and trafficking in women and children for prostitution should be considered as a serious crime after the implementation of the Convention following its ratification.She said the draft of the Laws related to this topic has been prepared and that programme for raising public awareness against the trafficking of women and children for prostitution has been implemented in an organized manner in 15 different Districts.Minister of State Aryal added that the programme was being expanded to eight more Districts. Meanwhile, the SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia-2002 has been unanimously ratified by the meeting of the House of representatives today.Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Urmila Aryal had presented a proposal at the meeting of the House seeking ratification of the Convention.Taking part in the general discussions on the Convention, MP Kunta Sharma said that the children in South Asia are deprived of their rights and that they were being exploited in the name of adoption and a large number of children died in the subcontinent due to malnutrition and other diseases.In response to queries raised in course of the discussions, Minister of State Aryal said that the Convention had to be ratified in order to address various problems relating to the children in South Asia.She said that a ten-year Action Plan has also been prepared for the welfare of the children.Today’s meeting of the House of Representatives unanimously approved the proposal seeking that the House consider the Private Sector Investment in Infrastructure Construction and Operation of Technology Bill-2006.Minister for Physical Planning and Works Gopal Man Shrestha presented the proposal to this effect at the meeting.Taking part in the discussions on the proposal, MP Bhadra Bahadur Thapa said that the Government should pay attention to the construction of physical infrastructures by keeping in mind the welfare of the consumers.The meeting also unanimously endorsed the proposal seeking that the House consider the Public Purchase Bill-2006.Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula had tabled the Bill in the House on behalf the Finance Minister.Similarly, the House of Representatives at its meeting today unanimously approved the proposal tabled by Home Minister Sitaula that the House consider the Prison (Second Amendment Bill-2006.Taking part in the discussions on the proposal, MP Yadav Bahadur Rayamajhi demanded that there should be provisions for giving wages to the inmates working at public places after completing a certain term in prison. He also suggested for making the Bill more practical.Likewise, the House unanimously approved the proposal presented by Minister of State for Environment, Science and Technology Man Bahadur Bishwakarma seeking that the House consider the Electronic Transaction Bill-2006.The House of Representatives also unanimously approved the proposal tabled by Minister of State for General Administration Dharmanath Prasad Shaha that the House consider the Civil Service (Second Amendment) Bill-2006. Taking part in the discussions on the proposal, MPs Nara Bahadur Hamal, Umakanta Chaudhari, Ram Kumar Chaudhari, Yadav Bahadur Rayamajhi, Dilli Raj Sharma and Govinda Bikram Shaha said that although the provision of 45 per cent reservation allocated to the women, ethnic communities and the Dalits was welcome, the Bill should also include the deprived communities from the remote areas.They said that performance evaluation should not be carried out by a single person and that extensive discussions was needed regarding the topic of automatic promotion as this provision would create many adverse effects.Answering the queries raised in course of the discussions on behalf the Minister of State Shaha, Minister of State for Environment, Science and Technology Bishwakarma said that the suggestions of the MPs would be incorporated in the Bill.The House of Representatives next meets at 11 a.m. on September 10

UN report focuses on hazards faced by women migrants

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) Looking beyond statistics of 191 million migrants worldwide, a new UN report highlights the benefits of global movement of people while focusing on its dark side – scourge of human trafficking and exploitation of female domestic workers.
Though women constitute half of the migrants, yet it was only recently that policymakers acknowledged the hazards they could face, said the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report ‘The State of World Population 2006’ released Wednesday.
Brought out ahead of a special UN General Assembly session Sep 13-15 on migration and development, the report stressed that migration could be a win-win situation, but only if women’s rights, health and needs are addressed.
‘Every year millions of women working overseas send millions of dollars in remittances back to their homes and communities,’ said Ena Singh, UNFPA assistant representative in India at the release of the report, which for the first time was accompanied by a youth supplement giving case history of migrants or the families left behind.
‘For a long time, the issue of women migrants has been low on the international policy agenda. For the first time government representatives from around the globe will be attending a UN session devoted to migration,’ said Singh.
Globally, the migrant workers remit around $232 billion to their country of origin of which $167 billion is received by developing countries.
Despite a dearth of reliable global data, country specific studies reveal how critical is the contribution of female remittances.
‘While women tend to send less overall than men, studies reveal that they send a higher proportion of their more meagre earnings to their families back home,’ the report said.
While for many women, migration opens doors to a new world of greater equality and relief from oppression, the report stressed that on the contrary millions of female workers face hazards from ‘modern-day enslavement of trafficking victims to exploitation of domestic workers’.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that around 2.45 million trafficking victims are currently toiling in exploitative conditions worldwide. An estimated 600,000-800,000 women, men and children are trafficked across international borders every year.
Of these 80 percent are women and girls, the report said.
‘Human trafficking now constitutes the third most lucrative illicit trade after drugs and arms smuggling and nets an estimated $7-12 billion annually. These numbers however reflect only profits from initial sale of persons.’
The ILO estimates that once victims are in the destination country, criminal syndicates rake in an additional $32 billion a year – half generated in industrialised nations and a third in Asia.
© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service

Where is my daughter?

Where is my daughter?
– Deepak Tiwari ,The Week September 10

SPECIAL REPORTNGO says 10,000 girls are missing in Madhya Pradesh and ChhattisgarhOne moment Nandlal Padwar is filled with hope, the next moment he is overwhelmed with grief. Three years ago, the Gond tribal of Gudli in Madhya Pradesh sent his daughter Manisha, 22, to work as a domestic help in Delhi for Rs 1,500 a month. The last time he phoned her on a number that the agent, Kamla, had given him was one and a half years ago. Thereafter, every time he asked Kamla about his daughter, she threatened to kill him. He sold everything he had-two oxen and his wife’s jewellery-to take policemen to Delhi in search of his daughter. Padwar has now turned to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan for help.If parents of all missing girls were to write to Chauhan, his office would be flooded with thousands of letters. Naresh Biswas, who runs the NGO Nirman in rural Mandla, conducted a door-to-door survey in areas under three police stations in Mandla with the help of the police. What he found was shocking: nearly 500 girls had been sent to various metros from here ostensibly for a job or vocational training. Most girls had not returned to their native villages in two or three years. Initially, parents got some money and an occasional call, but now they have no clue about their whereabouts. The police have registered cases against Asish Ekka of Sahara Service Bureau in New Delhi under the child labour act, and for abduction and rape. Biswas estimated that 5,000 girls were missing from Dindori, Balaghat, Seoni and Mandla districts in Madhya Pradesh, and 5,000 from Kawardha, Bilaspur, Dantewada, Jaspur and Raigarh districts in Chhattisgarh.Last year, Mandla Superintendent of Police Niranjan Vayangankar and Biswas rescued 64 girls from Delhi. Yashoda, 14, was one of them. An agent promised her Rs 1,000 a month and free training in sewing. She got neither; instead Ekka sent her to three houses in Delhi in just a month. “The driver in the first house misbehaved with me. When I threw a fit, Ekka shifted me to a new house where I was physically abused,” she said. “I sneaked a call to my mother and they allowed me to return after she threatened to lodge a complaint with the police.” The parents of Manota Bai, 12, have no trace of her. “We have not been able to talk to her on phone,” said her father Sunhar Singh Dhurve. “Even when our son died recently we could not get her back.”Manota’s mother, Mangli Bai, said she regretted having fallen to greed when Ekka’s agents promised her Rs 1,000 a month. “I have got nothing so far,” she cried. “Now I have lost my daughter, too.” The family has not gone to the police as they know it is illegal to send a minor child for work.Activists say many girls land up in brothels. “Getting minor girls from remote areas to work as domestic help is the first stage of human trafficking,” said Rishikant, an activist of the NGO Shaktivahini, who rescued more than 100 such girls from Delhi last year. “Almost all the girls trapped in households are sexually abused. Later they meekly succumb to it. Once they lose contact with their families back home they are inducted into prostitution.”Vayangankar said there was an organised racket operating in the central Indian states and Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Bihar targeting tribal girls who are vulnerable to the lures of a good life. In Mandla, Dindori, Balaghat and Seoni districts 49.2 per cent of the rural population is below poverty line; the state average is 37.06 per cent. Touts generally tempt children-and sometimes parents-with promises of free job training and lucrative salaries. Schools are the hunting grounds of these touts. “Even teachers work as agents,” said Vayangankar. “They tell children about the glitzy life in the metros.”In April last year, the police arrested Sugriv Ahirwar, a schoolteacher, for sending girl students to a placement agency in Delhi. He, apparently, got Rs 500 a girl. Sugriv and his brother Shriram allegedly abducted six girls of Bhapsa village who were returning from school. Pardeshi Sayyam, the father of one of the girls, went to the police on hearing about the abduction, and they arrested the brothers and rescued the girls.M.D. Mongre, a retired forest employee, said Chottibai, a woman in charge of mid-day meals for schoolchildren, acted as the agent in Manegaon village. Ramkali Marko, headmistress of Government Primary School in Bhada, said two girls, Saraswati and Rajkumari, were ‘abducted’ during exams. “My daughter was taken away when nobody was at home and I was working in the fields,” said Saraswati’s father, Dina Gond, who went to Delhi to track his daughter and met Ekka. “He gave me Rs 4,000 and said the police would arrest me if I did not leave immediately.” Most parents whom THE WEEK visited did not know the whereabouts of their children. All of them had a telephone number, usually a mobile number, which gave the stock reply, “Your daughter has left this place.”Sadabai is the sarpanch of Harrabhat village. Her granddaughter Yashodabai Uike has been missing for the past eight months. “Why would we send our child to Delhi for a job when we give employment to many people,” she said. But her husband, Dhulia Singh Marwari, said they were trying to get in touch with the agents in the village and in Delhi to get back the child. Sadabai has not complained to the police because she thought “the child might have gone with the consent of her parents”. Vayangankar said parents reported such missing cases only when the girls or agents stopped sending them money. “This is basically a social problem and we can only act if we get complaints. But people don’t come forward,” said Vayangankar. “We have now evolved a new beat system in a few villages where one havaldar keeps a watch on girls going out.” The police have also initiated sensitisation of their staff and villagers. In the past year, four training programmes were organised with the help of the state SC/ST and women police cell. Next on the agenda is the rehabilitation of girls rescued from Delhi. Vayangankar said young boys were also abducted. “Last year, we rescued 22 minor boys who were kept as bonded labour in a factory in Hyderabad,” he said. Tribal Welfare Minister Vijay Shah told THE WEEK that he was not aware of any such missing cases. He has asked the Mandla district collector to submit a report on it.But villagers can’t afford to feign ignorance. In Bhada, where 18 girls are missing, sarpanch Jamotin Bai Partei called a meeting that made it mandatory for all those leaving the village for over a month to inform the panchayat where they were going. Suspected agents are not allowed to enter the village and there were also plans, as Mongre said, “to ostracise those parents who send their minor children with agents to metros”. Seeds of changeIn his 20 years of work among tribals, nothing has given Naresh Biswas more satisfaction than his efforts to persuade the administration to rescue minor girls held hostage in Delhi. “I was shocked to know that agents had lured them with good jobs,” said Biswas who made a list of more than 450 missing girls in a single block after a door-to-door survey in Mandla. “The racket is so strong that the police are helpless.”Biswas and his wife, Muniya Marskole, a tribal, move from village to village spreading awareness about the evil designs of those who lure girls. He has asked several employers to send the girls back or face legal action. Many of them were not aware that the money did not reach the girls’ families. Biswas’s action helped some of them come back. According to him, the fact that tribal girls are lured with jobs shows how government employment schemes are ineffective. Illiteracy is another bane. Asish Ekka, the man accused of girl-running, operated under cover of an NGO named Seva Bharti. Biswas now plans to work for the rehabilitation of the girls who have come back. The NGO he runs, Nirman, is already involved in uplifting the vanishing Baiga tribe; he is the pillar of the Baiga Mahapanchayat, a body of Baigas spread in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.Biswas has been able to revive the tribal tradition of Ramkothi to store grain for lean days. The group has also preserved certain seeds which grow even in scant rainfall.

Trafficking accused convicted despite victims turning hostile

Trafficking accused convicted despite victims turning hostile

2 minor girls from Nepal caught at airport with one-way tickets; NGO lays traps using decoys and nabs accused who claimed they were his sisters

Kavitha Chowdhury

New Delhi, August 30: IF Not for alertness of social workers/NGO activists, two more minor girls from Nepal would have been trafficked into the ‘red light’ area of the Capital. They not only rescued the girls, but also trapped the traffickers. Their ingenuity managed to get the traffickers convicted recently, even though the girls themselves turned hostile in court.
Anuradha Koirala, chairperson of the NGO, Maiti Nepal from Kathmandu, was at the IGI airport on her way to Germany when she noticed two Nepali girls who had arrived from Kathmandu. They seemed lost and were crying. Koirala talked to the two girls, and suspecting something amiss, contacted another NGO, STOP in Delhi, to take custody of the girls.
Says Roma Debabrata of STOP, “The girls said they were waiting for their brothers. They had one-way air tickets. We called up on the mobile numbers provided by them and one of the men who answered said he would come and pick them up. Although we waited for two hours, no one turned up.”

Suspecting that this was a trafficking ring, the STOP employees went about setting a trap to nab the traffickers. They called up the mobile number again the next day and asked the man, Yanden Lama, to come over to Ramleela Ground bus stop to receive his “sisters”.
Two women employees of the organisation were taken along, of them one was a Nepal national and the other spoke Nepali fluently. They were taken along as decoys in place of the two girls. When they reached the bus stand, they met a woman, Jal Maya, and the man named Yanden Lama. Says Debabrata: “The man and the woman identified our two employees as their sisters. Our doubts were confirmed and we now knew that these two had never seen the two girls from Nepal before. They intended to push these girls into prostitution. “Every other day, girls from Nepal are trafficked across the border and the traffickers pose as their close relatives.”
Debabrata assured them that she would drop them to their homes in Majnu ka Tila, but took them to the police station instead. Again, to confirm their suspicions, the two girls were shown another couple, and the two identified them as their brother and sister. The two, however, did not support the prosecution’s stand in the court. They denied that they had been lured to Delhi by false job promises and insisted that the accused were their relatives. Despite this, the court took cognisance of the circumstantial evidence and convicted the accused to three years’ imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000. The court took note of the fact that the accused had given contradictory statements. Moreover, the court observed that the girls had one-way air tickets and they were not received at the airport, which “clearly shows that the girls were imported to India”. In addition, the conduct of the accused and the girls provided “unrebutted and unshaken evidence” that the girls had been brought into the country for flesh trade, the court said. Looking at the financial position of the accused and the girls, the court said in its order, it does not appear that they could travel by air. Rather it appears that the girls did not intend to return to Nepal. The accused had failed to prove that the girls are their sisters.

New technology available to fan female foeticide

New technology available to fan female foeticide

Published: Saturday, 2 September, 2006, 10:14 AM Doha Time
By Maxwell Pereira

The unholy spectre of illegal sex selection to prevent or destroy female offspring – at the pre-conception stage or the pre-natal – just doesn’t seem to stop. Even as the country is battling to remedy its skewed sex ratio, newer onslaughts are afoot through technology driven procedures available in cyberspace; the warped Indian brain is quick to learn and adapt with ulterior aims.
All in an effort to circumvent existing laws prohibiting sex selection for purpose of eliminating the very possibility of a girl child being born.
In early July, the media stumbled on to the increasing practice among Indian parents of accessing through the Internet facilities available in the US guaranteeing a male issue even at the pre-conception stage.
A process based on PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) or ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) technique that could make sex determination of the child possible at the conception level by taking one healthy sperm for fertilisation of the egg with freedom to chose Y over X chromosome.
New techniques have been developed in America, which combine the spectacular advances in molecular genetics and assisted reproductive technology (ART), to enable physicians to identify genetic diseases in the embryo, prior to implantation, before the pregnancy is established.
But PGD was developed for patients – especially those resorting to intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization – who were at risk of having children with serious genetic disorders, such as haemophilia, which often discouraged them having their own biological children. In genuine cases, PGD also offered parents to balance their family with equal number of girl and boy children.
Quick on the uptake to realise its commercial potential, websites of fly-by-night operators sprung up in the US offering the facility to Indian couples across the globe – and true to form with enough gullible or eager Indians to bite the bait for dubious use at the Indian end. Websites like http://www.meditest.com, Tell Me Pink or Blue, GenSelect and http://www.babyzendormentor.com which rural Punjabis quickly transformed to ‘jantarmantar’, and so on – offering home pregnancy kits for a dollar price translating to around Rs15,000 or less. Facilities to pack a blood sample to a lab in the US to know the baby’s gender in a few days.
The increasing deficit of girls is also creating a social imbalance within society, with pockets in India where very few girls are born. Resulting in no brides for the burgeoning son population, with the prospect of having to import girls from other regions. Resulting in social problems of purchasing young girls from poor regions, women treated as commodities, contributing to further fall in their status in society.
This can only lead to further exploitation and abuse of women, violence against them, increased trafficking and sex trade, and re-emergence of practices like polyandry. Letting the cycle of discrimination and gender inequities to continue, fuelled now by newer and more accurate technologies for sex selection.
Alarmed over this latest threat, the union health ministry has addressed the ministry of information technology through the home ministry to initiate measures to ban or block these websites. The exact implications and the dimensions of the impact on Indian society of this new menace need study.
Especially when the battle is on against the nationwide plague of illegal sex selection through the ultrasound facility – that throws up gory cases of the Patran type with scores of aborted foetuses in doctors’ backyard wells!
While the new threats would need the attention of the expert medical fraternity to suggest an appropriate course of action, the aspect of effecting dollar payment over internet, or through relatives abroad, would also need examination.
There is need for the ministries of science and technology, of communications and information technology, of finance and revenue (income tax) to be sensitive to the issue and be involved. – IANS

11th National Media Fellowship Programme,
2005-06Giving Voice to the Unheard
(For Print and Photo Journalists)

National Foundation for India has a Media Fellowship Programme for young, mid-career journalists. The fellowships would allow them to take time off from their routine beats to research and publish articles/photo essays on issues concerning the less privileged, that need to be high on the national agenda, but do not find mention there for a variety of reasons.The fellowships support pursuit of in-depth, creative field research on these concerns and writing about them with adequate evidence – qualitative and quantitative – to impact the public policy and the domain of social consciousness. Six fellowships will be awarded this year to print journalists, which include three fellowships supported by Sir Ratan Tata Trust. One fellowship will be awarded to a photo journalist. An additional fellowship supported by German Agro Action to a journalist in Jharkhand to research and publish articles on Role/Participation of Civil Society Organizations in Local Governance has been introduced this year.At the end of the fellowships period, the photo journalist will be expected to mount an exhibition of her/his works.In the past ten years, sixty-two media persons from across the country have availed of these fellowships. Journalists from small and regional language publications are encouraged to apply. Women journalists are particularly welcome. Applicants must have demonstrated commitment to the development concerns of the less privileged in society.

For Details see
http://www.nfi.org.in/

Media Awards on reporting of Human Trafficking and HIV

Media Awards on reporting of Human Trafficking and HIV

Media can play a critical role in the prevention and control of trafficking and HIV/AIDS by increasing the knowledge and understanding among key stakeholders and people at large. The media can give a face to the issue, shape the debate and help determine the choices available.

It has been observed that reporting on such issues is a complex but an ever expanding area of work today. There is no doubt on the importance of the work that has been done. However there is still a need for continued, consistent and sensitive reporting on the issue. While journalists can be effective in influencing public knowledge and opinion on the clandestine nature of trafficking, there is an urgent need for action translating into commitment from the media and the public.

One of the fundamental and central elements of the UNDP-TAHA project is generating rights and gender sensitive responses to trafficking and HIV. To facilitate this process an innovative approach has been undertaken to mobilise and sensitize media for sensitive and priority reporting on issues of trafficking and HIV. The aim is to gain visibility/priority for the issue in both the national and local media – print as well as electronic.

As part of the media strategy, HDRN which is TAHA’s implementing partner is announcing media awards for the four best published and aired reports each, four for print and four for electronic, on issues related to trafficking and HIV.

The media personnel will be given two months to research, write and publish or air their work after filling the application.

The main objectives of the initiative are:
Help journalists improve the quality of reporting, in terms of comprehensive and sensitive reporting, on issues related to trafficking and HIV
Provide motivation for in-depth research, study and deliver reports on related issues to the subject
Reinforce participants’ commitment to address the issue through their work

Awards are open to all categories of news media, specifically, newspapers, magazines, internet, radio and television; and all categories of media personnel including producers, photographers, artists, reporters, editors, etc.

The media personnel may participate in the initiative on a part-time basis and continue writing or reporting during the stipulated two month period. Participants are encouraged to do reporting based on their research and to experiment with different media or forms of writing. Participants are free to work from home, or base themselves wherever convenient. Preference will be given to reports written and published in regional languages.

Reports can be designed as a one off article or a series of in-depth articles, a radio or television special. When applying, applicants are not required to have a detailed project proposal; a broad outline is sufficient. Projects are expected to be diverse in focus and scope, while reflecting a strong emphasis on trafficking and HIV issues.

As part of the final selection process, short listed reports will be vetted by a three-member panel of renowned experts on the subject of anti-trafficking and media.

How to Apply

Eligibility:

Entry is free and open to all Indian citizens over 18 years.
Research/reporting projects should be focused on trafficking and HIV issues in the Indian context. However, considering that trafficking is also an inter-country and cross- border issue reports highlighting such linkages will not be rejected.
Work must be published in the national or regional media during January – September 2006. Those submitting reports in the regional language should also provide an English translation of the same.
Any journalist, editor, or producer specializing in health reporting or wanting to do so is eligible. There is no age restriction, but media personnel should have at least five years experience.

Priority will be given to reports that are published/ aired and reach a mass audience specifically regional language. Priority will also be given to those reports having in-depth study.

To Apply
Please fill in the application form which is available on www.hdrn.org/……

Time Frame

The application should submitted by August 10, 2006.
Duration of the initiative: August 10 – October 7, 2006

The Award

The winners will be announced on October 10, 2006. The results will be notified by email or telephone.

Eight media personnel will be awarded Rs. 25,000/ – each (four from the print and four from the electronic media).

A certificate from be given from UNDP-TAHA and HDRN.

Award Criteria

Information provided in the report is useful to the public.
Information provided in the report could influence policymakers.
Report written in a simple and easily understood language and format.
Reporting facts that have not been reported so far – unearthing new facts relating to the subject.
Accurate and balanced information provided in a clear and structured fashion.
A creative journalistic approach would score brownie points.

For more details, you can contact:

HIV and Human Development Resource Network
J – 50, B.K. Dutt Colony
Jor Bagh Lane
New Delhi – 110003
Tel: 91.11.24652297/98
Email: hdrn@youandaids.org