Here, marriage is a ruse to sell wives FEATURE

m Pinki, a minor was pregnant when the police sent her to theAlwar Child Helpline in June 2004. A truck driver had brought her from West Bengal after ‘marrying’ her But the ‘marriage’ lasted as long as it took to reachAlwar She was then sold to another man, who sold her again. Her third ‘owner’ Ratiram Ahir a Meo from Alwar’s Kishangarh tehsil, was caught, charged and sentenced to 7years’ imprisonment. Pinki was sent to her village. aRehana (name changed) was first ‘married’ in Haryana. But she refused to put up with the exploitation, and went back to Jharkhand. Meanwhile Mushtaq, a resident ofAlwar lost his wry. He needed someone to take care of his two children but was too poor to afford marriage to a local girl. A fellow villager offered Rehana’s match. It has been three months now, and she is happy at being respectably married THE MEWAT belt, stretching from Alwar to Faridabad, is full of such stories. Girls from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim and even Madhya Pradesh are brought to the region in large numbers on the pretext of marriage. The poor families in these states find it hard to marry their daughters. Even a rickshaw puller in Bihar/Jharkhand expects a dowry of Rs 50,000, explains Nooraisa, who hails from Chatra district and is married to a Meo in Alwar The Meos are the Muslims of the Mewat region. When someone wins the trust of such families and offers to marry their daughter without dowry, they are more than happy They feel the girl would be ‘settled’ at last, even if hundreds of kilometers away Many such ‘husbands’, howevel: have other things on their mind – sex and money They keep the girls for a few weeks. Then they look for some poor villagers wanting to marry and sell them a wife. Fakruddin (name changed) has been in the business of bringing and selling girls for many years. His second ‘wife’, in fact, has stayed for eight years now simply because he couldn’t make a deal for her She has borne him four children already “Those people (in the eastern states) are too poor to marry their girls locally, while the men here have no money to get a local match. It’s simply a case of supply and demand,” says Fakruddin. The grooms in Mewat are expected to shell out over 20 grams of gold as ‘meher’ (bride’s security) while marrying a local girl. While this practice is more common among Meos, there have been cases where Hindu men ‘married’ poor Muslim women by pretending to be Muslims. Recently three girls raised a hue and cry when they real- ized they had to live with Hindu men and were sent back to their village. “Usually truck drivers bring the girls on the pretext of marriage. After using them for 15-20 days, they sell them for Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000,” Fakruddin says. Fakruddin knows two brothers who bring one girl every month. The Alwar Child Helpline gets at least four to five such cases every month. These minors are from the eastern states and are usually unable to communicate with the police and social workers, reveals coordinator Purushottam Kumar “At any given time, there are 15-20 girls ready to be sold in Alwar alone. There would be more in Haryana,” says Virendra Vidrohi, secretary of the Matsya Mewat Shiksha Evam Vikas Sansthan, an NGO that has done extensive research on the issue. Why doesn’t the administration do anything about this trading of women? “There is an element of consent in these cases. Though the girls are exploited, most of them finally get married and settle down. Then they prefer to keep quiet about what they went through,” a senior official said, off the record. These girls, having escaped the stigma of a sexually exploited woman, are content being a ‘Paro’ an outsider in local dialect. At least it’s more respectable and they have a home and hearth to call their own. The trafficking a Truck drivers win the trust of poor families in eastern states and offer to marry their daughters without dowry a They bring their ‘wives’ to the Mewat belt, which stretches from Alwar to Faridabad a For the men of the Meo community of Mewat, marriage to a local is very expensive. They have to shell out over 20 grams of gold as ‘meher’ (bride’s security) a The truck drivers sell them a wife for anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000
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Women and Child trafficking: Supreme Court seeks information on draft Bill

Women and Child trafficking: Supreme Court seeks information on draft Bill

New Delhi, Feb 27: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to inform it within two weeks about the state of the Bill and other steps taken by it on the issue of relief and rehabilitation of the victims of women and child trafficking.A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan granted time to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to apprise it about the draft Bill in this regard after it was told that the procedure was in progress.The Court was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Shakti Vahini in 2002 questioning the implementation of the ‘Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children.Various suggestions from NGOs and NHRC was taken on record by the court during the hearing.Senior advocate U U Lalit, who has been assisting the court as amicus curiae, in the matter has also put forward suggestions after thorough research and the court has asked the government to consider all those while preparing the draft Bill.Advocate S Wasim Quadri had informed the court that the Delhi Government concurs with the suggestions of the NHRC.
— PTI

By women, for women

ALKA S PANDE

Indian Express

LUCKNOW:WHEN the UP police needs information on traffickers, it has a trusted ally in Sunita.Her story is a familiar one in Nepal. Lured by prospects of a job, she travelled to Jammu and Kashmir, then to Himachal Pradesh and Mumbai where she was sold to a brothel. Months later, she was rescued and returned to Nepal.
But then, she did not go back to the secure life she led in the Januka Bhatrai village in Morang district of Nepal. Bringing together several others who suffered the same ordeal, Sunita formed the Shakti Samuha which now works to rescue, counsel and rehabilitate women trafficked from Nepal.
The UN Office on Drug and Crime is now considering taking their help in its work in the UP-Nepal border area. “We are looking forward to chalk out a strategy to combat trafficking at UP-Nepal border with the help of Samuha members,” Ajit Joy, project coordinator for Victim Support and Human Trafficking in UN office on Drug and Crime said.
Started 10 years back with 15 girls rescued from trafficking, today Sunita has an all-girl brigade of 30 members – all in their 20s. Besides the field officer and an accountant, all members have been through the flesh trade racket in the region. “We hold regular meetings with the Uttar Pradesh police and share with them the vital information our members have since they themselves have been victims and are aware of the modus operandi of the traffickers,” said Sunita.
Government records say that the 845 km border that UP shares with Nepal, there are at least 104 “cavities” that are used for trafficking. “In the past three years, more than 1,000 girls have been rescued from this porous border and about 100 men have been arrested for trafficking,” says Jata Shanker of Manav Sewa Sansthan which has been working against trafficking over the past 10 years.

Govt ready to adopt girl children to check fall in sex ratio

The government would soon provide home to an unwanted girl child.In a bid to check the alarming rate of female feticide, the ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has proposed to set up an orphanage in each district of the country where parents can leave their girl child, if they don’t want to bring them up.WCD minister Renuka Chowdhury told PTI that the orphanage would be part of the crèche scheme that the ministry has proposed for the 11th five-year plan.”We want to put a cradle or Palna in every district headquarters. What we are saying to the people is have your children, don’t kill them. And if you don’t want a girl child, leave her to us,” she said.Under the proposed scheme, the government will bear the cost of the upbringing of the girl child, a step considered necessary to correct the skewed sex ratio of the country. The government is already running Rajiv Gandhi Creche Scheme for children of working women and the orphanages would be an extension of the scheme, a ministry official said. “This is part of our ministry’s Integrated Child Development Scheme,” an official said, informing that the proposal has already been submitted to the Planning Commission. Chowdhury felt that the scheme would provide at least a chance to the girl child to live. “It would be better than killing them,” she replied, when asked whether the scheme can lead to parents abandoning the girl child.With the scheme, the government believes the gene pool will be maintained and parents, who realise their mistake, can claim their girl child later.Sex ratio as per 2001 Census in the country was 933 females per 1,000 males. The more affluent states like Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan and Haryana had sex ratio lower than 875. The latest Census figures on infant mortality rate shows that death of girl child in these states is increasing despite government interventions. Chowdhury termed it a ‘national shame’ for a country whose economy is growing at the rate of nine per cent.Email Chetan Chauhan: chetan@hindustantimes.com

Child Labour Act: State explains hurdles to Centre

Hindustan Times Feb 16 Kolkata

Talk about freeing a child from the shackles of labour and our State Government has just managed to balk at the prospect.
The Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and the State’s Labour Minister Mrinal Banerjee have recently written to the Central Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, explaining their inability to free under-14 children from their jobs.
As per the latest amendment to the Child Labour (Protection and Regulation Act (1986)—which came into force in October 2006—children who are employed in 15 hazardous industries including domestic sector and restaurants, kids must be freed from child labour and returned home.
In the absence of a rehab policy for children, the State Government has stayed away from taking any action for eliminating child labour. “In many instances we have observed that forcing children to leave their jobs may not be advisable since many of the kids come from families where parents are either disabled or have no income. If we take these children out of their jobs, we will be forcing them to either become beggars or petty criminals”, minister of state for labour (West Bengal) Anadi Sau told Hindustan Times.
Sau said that the new law may be forward-looking but the real enemy of child development is poverty. “So many factories have shut down all over the country. The Central Government has also stopped recruiting for so many of its departments. Unless the Central Government provides economic support for the poorer families, they will continue to send their children to work outside home”, pointed out Sau.
The Labour department nevertheless is making an effort towards rehabilitating some of these rescued children but it is not enough. About 570 schools—each accommodating 50 child labour– have already been set up in 19 districts but the target is setting up 683 schools by 31st March, said Sau. “These kids get Rs 100 per month apart from free education and meals. The average cost comes to Rs 1000 per child”, said Sau.
The Department of Social Welfare, Women and Child Development, which plays a supportive role to the Labour Department on issues like child labour, also feels that rehabilitation of the family is more important than rescuing the child from any job which he may be doing. “There are two schemes under the Central Ministry, the Integrated Street Children Programme and the Integrated Working Children Programme. Both these Central Government schemes are running but they are inadequate as rehab packages”, said S Nurul Haque, Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare, Women and Child Development.
The State is now keeping its fingers crossed that the next five year plan may offer more largesse for children and their upkeep.

Maharashtra dossier on missing kids

Indian Express ,Feb 13 2007

PUNE, FEBRUARY 12 :State Director-General of Police P S Pasricha today said he had instructed all nine police commissionerates and 33 police districts in the state to prepare dossiers on missing children across Maharashtra in the wake of the Nithari killings. The DGP also spoke of increased trafficking of women in Maharashtra, especially Mumbai.

“A special drive is being conducted by the social security branch of the police across the state to nab those engaged in the trade,” he said. He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the 60th Foundation Day Celebrations of the State Wireless Department here.
Asked about the steps taken by his office to curb the menace of missing children in the state being highlighted in a series by The Indian Express, Pasricha said, “A circular seeking the details of missing children has been sent to all police districts and commissionerates”.
The Pune police has already begun a drive across the 20 police stations in the city, which reported 212 boys and 241 girls missing in 2006. The actual figure is 549 boys and 627 girls but the city police claims 337 boys and 386 girls were ‘recovered’ (returned home on their own or were traced by their parents and relatives).
Pasricha appealed to parents and relatives of the missing children, who have returned home, to inform the police stations where they had registered the missing complaints. “Our experience shows that 90 per cent of the children return home but parents fail to inform the police about their return, which further compounds the problem,” he said.
Saying both parents and teachers had a greater role to play, Pasricha advised them to sensitise themselves on issues related to their children. “There is need to create awareness about the issues affecting children. A simple thing like exam fever has made many children run away from their homes,” he said.

http://www.indianexpress.com/iep/sunday/story/23215.html

In Capital, every second missing person is a child

Nithari wake-up call: Delhi cops open nine new cells, new circular alerts ranks, explains drill to locate kids

NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 12:Of the 15,000 who went missing from the Capital last year, 7,000 were minors — almost every second case brought to the police notice was that of a missing child. As it grapples with these cases and learns from the Nithari serial killings in neighbouring Noida and the conduct of the police there before the chilling discovery, the police in Delhi have started reworking priorities.
Police Commissioner K K Paul has held more than one meeting on missing children and a circular has been issued to all units reminding them of the drill in such cases. Post-Nithari, a review of cases of missing children is taken up every Tuesday at a meeting Paul holds at the police headquarters.
In addition to the existing missing persons cell, the police have nine new new cells on the job across the city. This too is post-Nithari. Joint Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners, who will be responsible for these cells in addition to their current assignments, have also been identified. Joint Commissioner (Crime) Ranjit Narayan says ‘‘the entire system has been streamlined further’’.
Neeraj Thakur, DCP (Crime) who tracks the progress on cases of missing persons, says ‘‘there is no clear pattern of how and from which parts of the capital do most children go missing. There are as many cases of children going missing, say, from Vasant Kunj to a resettlement colony like Sultanpuri. What’s somewhat common is that children go missing or run away after quarrels at home or from the exam stress. Very often, parents do not get back to the police, especially if it involves girls approaching adulthood.’’
Delhi police say though figures for children gone missing are very high, so’s the recovery rate. Narayan says the 2006 recovery rate was a high 88 per cent.
‘‘This figure would be higher if parents of all children who are traced or have returned home voluntarily get back to the police. Mostly, it’s only the incident of the child gone missing that is reported to the police. Not the child`s return. Often in cases involving missing girls, we find that the family has shifted home. The neighbours tell us that the girl has returned. The fact is that our recovery rate is higher than in several Western countries,” says Narayan
The Indian Express accessed an internal circular sent to all district chiefs by Narayan on February 6 on the subject of missing children. The three-page note indirectly refers to the Nithari incident: “New experience has shown that conducting a search of the immediate area (including drains) would be useful.”
In the circular, eight steps have been listed for the investigating officer (IO) when a child is being reported missing. Spot investigations involve nine stages. The police have identified at least five “motives” behind a missing child:
• Sexual
• Murder — Act of killing itself could bring arousal/gratification
• Ransom — The abductor could make contact
• Profit — In cases of trafficking
• Miscellaneous — personal vengeance by childless mother etc
The new circular notes that “in many cases the culprit resided, worked, frequented or had some association with the immediate area frequented by the missing child. Often it has been seen that the culprit had even been contacted by the IO during initial investigation but went undetected because of hasty and cursory nature of the inquiry/investigation. A very important lesson to be learnt from these cases is that there is no substitute for thoroughness in executing a prompt neighbourhood investigation and search.”
While police blame parents for not getting back to them, it’s also a fact that it’s not easy reporting a missing child and hoping the police swing into action immediately. Autorickshaw-driver Kundan Lal’s son Babloo disappeared from near their home on December 11, 2005. Bimla, the boy’s mother, says no one saw Babloo leave. As Kundan Lal was away, neighbours lodged a missing complaint at the Sangam Vihar police station. The next day, Kundan Lal went to the police station to lodge an FIR. “They refused to lodge an FIR, telling me to look for my child first. I kept visiting the police station but they told me to trace my son,” he says.
Many visits later, the police, says Kundan Lal, agreed to an FIR. “They asked me to arrange a vehicle for the policemen who would go in search of my son. I decided to take them in my auto.” For a week, Lal, who plies a rented autorickshaw, took the policemen wherever they asked him to. A week later, he couldn’t fund the rides anymore.
Kundan Lal approached the National Human Rights Commission on January 25, 2006. Acting on his complaint, the NHRC wrote to DCP (South District) and DCP (Vigilance) asking them to submit an Action Taken Report within two weeks.