Shri Jai Shankar Ji, Sr Spl Correspondent Dainik Hindustan
Our Didi Ms Archana Tamang UNIFEM – Friend Philospher and Guide
Chairperson Mohuya Ji with Didi
Shri Vayalar Ravi Addressing the Journalists
Smt Renuka Choudhury and Mr Vayalar Ravi Inagurating the Programme
Smt Renuka Choudhury at the National Media Coalition Programme in New Delhi
Chandigarh, September 19
The US has warned India of sanctions in case it failed to take effective steps to tackle human trafficking.
It continues to be a serious problem in India, says the latest US State Department Trafficking in Persons report in which India has been placed on the Tier II watch list for the fourth consecutive year because of its failure to tackle this multidimensional problem.
The report, released recently, states that though the Government of India is making significant efforts, it does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.
Taking the report seriously, Ambassador-at-large and director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and senior adviser to the secretary of state Mark P. Lagon was on a two-day visit here to gather first-hand information of the situation on ground. He held closed-door meetings with government officials and with the ministry of women and child development.
Tight-lipped about the report, he stated that the US had put India on the Tier II list following strict parameters.
Lack of any significant federal government action to address bonded labour, the reported complicity of law enforcement officials in trafficking and related criminal activity, and the critical need for an effective national-level law enforcement authority impede India’s ability to effectively combat its problem of trafficking in persons.
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) estimates that 90 per cent of sex trafficking is internal with women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh being the main victims.
In September, 2006, the central government had established a two-person nodal cell, which, however, did not have any authority to investigate and initiate prosecutions of trafficking crimes across the country.
Some initiative has, however, been taken this year. Three state governments established anti-trafficking police units with substantial US and UNODC assistance. The central government passed a law in October, 2006, banning the employment of children as domestic help and in the hospitality industry. In a July, 2006, decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Maharashtra could seal brothels under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA).
The report observes that the government did not take any substantial measures to prosecute its officials involved in trafficking-related corruption, though it arrested three of them for their involvement in such cases.
It also states that efforts to investigate and punish trafficking crimes during the past year were uneven and largely inadequate. Only 27 convictions for trafficking took place in 2006. At least 43 rescue operations led to release of 275 victims of commercial sex trafficking from their exploiters. However, vigorous prosecution of traffickers was not done.
India arrested 685 suspected sex traffickers, but there were no reported prosecutions or convictions this year so far.
The report quotes a study by the National Human Rights Commission that a majority of traffickers claimed to rely on corrupt police officers for protection.
The central government reported no protection services offered to Indian victims trafficked abroad for involuntary servitude or commercial sexual exploitation, and it does not provide funding to repatriate these victims. The government of Kerala, however, appointed nodal officers to coordinate with Indian embassies in destination countries to assist victims from the state.
The government of India relied heavily on NGOs to assist sex-trafficking victims. Though a few states operate such homes for victims, they do not receive any protection services, such as psychological assistance from trained counsellors. Many victims do not get long-term alternatives to remain in the shelter.
Andhra Pradesh, the state with the largest number of trafficking victims, now provides Rs 10,000 to sex-trafficking victims.
While the ministry of overseas Indian affairs instituted a system requiring women below 35 to obtain authorisation to go to the Gulf as domestic helps, it failed to educate those travelling overseas on common trafficking perils or resources for assistance in destination countries.
Times of India 19 Sept 2007 Hyderabad
HYDERABAD: Slaves are available on lease and the business of renting out underage workers is not happening in some far-flung interiors of the state but right in the heart of Hyderabad. Workers, many of them girls in their teens and children under 14 years of age, are being “leased out” to families or ‘parties’ willing to cough up the lease amount for two to three years. At the end of the period the worker is returned to the middleman who leases them out again to another party that quotes a higher bid.
The police say they are aware of this disturbing trend but not as an organised racket but stray instances of people (middlemen) getting teenaged workers to the city and leasing them out for a few thousand rupees. Families residing in the city’s posh areas are leasing out these workers as domestic servants (and not as sex slaves) in many cases. This disturbing trend, that old timers say has been in place for some years now, is going on uninterrupted, fresh ‘enforcements’ of child labour laws not withstanding. An illustrating case is that of a young 17-year-old girl whose ‘lease’ with a ‘respectable’ family got over recently. Scared of the prospect of falling in wrong hands, she pleaded her former employers to pay the middleman a little more so that she could continue staying with them after her lease period got over.
A city old timer and an active citizen who witnessed the deal said, “It happened here, in Punjagutta. She pleaded with the family to pay an additional Rs 1,000 to the middleman. She was scared. They (child workers) are being brought from Orissa, from Srikakulam.’’ Activists say bidding for child workers is commonplace while the police say that only stray cases have been brought to their notice. “Bidding is common for domestic child labour,” says child rights activist Isidore Philip, adding that some children who were leased out in this manner have been rescued recently. And the profile of middlemen who are pumping the trend could be as varied as the friendly local villager to a bus conductor who shuttles between villages and the city. “They are being given not just for domestic helps, but also in shops and other commercial establishments,” says Rafiuddin Nair of Hyderabad Council of Social Welfare.
He says middlemen are now smart and they prefer to lease out child workers so that their place of work can be changed at regular interval to evade the police. “We have come to know of instances and we inform the labour department about it,” says S Umapathi, inspector general of police. He said while stray instances have come to light, it does not appear as an organised racket. The labour department has meanwhile set a target for district officials to file 100 cases of violation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. “Children being leased out or engaged in any form is a violation of the Act,” says Bhanwarlal, principal secretary, labour.
Wednesday, 19 September , 2007, 03:48 IANS
New Delhi: India would impose “severe and exemplary” penalties on those indulging in human trafficking and launch a nationwide awareness campaign on the risks of illegal migration, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi has said.
Major amendments would be effected to the Emigration Act of 1983 to introduce a provision to prevent “human smuggling,” Ravi said here on Tuesday. “We are going to make the penalties for those who indulge in such crime severe and exemplary,” he said while delivering the inaugural address at the consultation meeting of the National Media Coalition against trafficking.
“In the next few weeks, we will launch a nationwide awareness campaign on the risks of illegal immigration,” Ravi said, adding: “It must be remembered that illegal immigrants are most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.”
Over 100 journalists from across the country, besides civil society activists and UN agencies participated in the meeting.
The Assam Tribune
NEW DELHI, Sept 19 – Illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Nepal has added to the problem of human trafficking in the North Eastern States. This is the opinion expressed by speakers from the North-east participating in a meeting of the National Media Coalition against Human Trafficking. Experts drew a grim picture of the human trafficking scenario in the Region pointing towards the acute poverty among the people on account of lack of economic development, growing unemployment, militancy, ethnic turmoil, floods and illegal infiltration.The day-long meeting was inaugurated by Union Minister for Women and Child, Renuka Choudhury and Union Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi. Others who attended the meeting included the US Ambassador at large, Mark. P Lagon, India Chief of the United National Office on Drugs and Crime, Gary Lewis, Archana Tamang of UNIFEM.
Participating in a discussion, Dr Arun Kumar Sarma said that most of the women and children were trafficked for employment. In some cases girls were promised marriage in Gulf countries. In the last two-three years, girls from the Region have been taken to various parts of the country and abroad, he added.The crisis has been compounded by the presence of a large population of Bangladeshi migrants in the Region. The cheap labour is a major attraction and there is no record of what has happened to the womenfolk who have been taken as cheap labour force, he added.He further added that flood have affected a large number of population in Assam and some 50,000 people are currently living in relief camps in pitiable conditions. Roads and embankments have been washed away and there is no living space available. These flood victims become easy prey for human traffickers, he said.He further added that the victims of ethnic riots living in refugee camps in Kokrajhar district have also fallen victims to touts.
Joining him, senior journalist and North-east bureau chief of The Indian Express, Samudra Gupta Kashyap said “Some 2000 young girls living in 21 relief camps were missing. He added that around 10,000 young men have been killed in conflicts, while another 6000 are members of different armed groups.”He said there was such acute poverty that people were willing to be trafficked in absence of any viable alternative. He cited the instance of a village in Gossaigaon district, where most of the boys were missing. There is no school and no drinking water. Most of the girls were unmarried. There are reports of girls being trafficked.In this connection, he lauded the initiative of All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) which has been intercepting buses and trains bound for Delhi and Gujarat and rescuing victims of human trafficking. He said illegal migrants from Nepal and Bangladesh have added to the surplus labour force. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs 90 per cent of India’s sex trafficking is internal. Women and girls are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage.
According to US State Department Report, India is also a destination for women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh. These women are also trafficked through India for involuntary servitude in the Middle-east. India was placed in Tier 2 Watch List by the US State Department for a fourth consecutive year for its failure to show increasing efforts to tackle the large and multi-dimensional problem.