States turn blind eye to honour killing

Led by Haryana Chief Minister BS Hooda, the five northern states facing the menace of honour killings, seem to be using the lack of official data to undermine the seriousness of the problem. At a Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting recently, Hooda, however, has absolved the khaps of any wrongdoing.

“They have no role in honour killings,” he said.

Apart from Harayana, two independent studies have held the caste panchayats (khaps) responsible for the trend of honour killings in states such as Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. These states have witnessed a spurt in such killings in recent months.

However, the chief ministers of other four states did not attend the GoM meeting and as a response, the state governments said the problem was not serious in their states.

The ground situation, however, tells a different story. According to a study commissioned by the National Commission for Women, the findings show “honour killings are a north Indian phenomenon.”

Out of 560 cases profiled in these states by an NGO Shakti Vahini, in 89 percent cases, the couples, who have married against the wishes of their families had been threatened. “Honour killings have been reported most from those areas where the khap panchayats are active, and in these 560 cases, 121 persons had lost their lives,” says the study.

It contradicts the khaps’ arguement they only oppose marriages within the same sub-caste (gotra). “Honour killings are less about gotra issue and more about inter-caste marriages and the reaction to inter-caste marriages are much stronger and violent when the girl marries a dalit or a lower caste than hers,” it noted.

A research paper presented at an international conference on child abduction, relocation and forced marriages at London in June, Chandigarh based legal experts Anil and Ranjit Malhotra said :“Forced marriages and honour killings are often interwined. Marriages can be forced to save honour and women can be murdered for rejecting a forced marriage.”

According to the UN Population Fund, 5,000 women are murdered for ‘honour’ every year around the world . Though there are no official figures for India, a paper presented at a talk organised by the London Metropolitan University in June, put the number of honour killings as 1,000 every year.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/States-turn-blind-eye-to-honour-killing/Article1-593256.aspx

THE BODY SHOP AND ECPAT LAUNCH GLOBAL PETITION IN INDIA TO STOP SEX TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE

27th August 2010, The Body Shop and ECPAT today launch the much – anticipated Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People Petition in INDIA.  To mark the occasion at 4 pm, The Body Shop and ECPAT are asking that every concerned person in the country show their solidarity against Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People by making a simultaneous “Big Stop” as a national sign of zero tolerance.

Stop  Trafficking of Children and Young People Petition in India

Stop Trafficking of Children and Young People Petition in India

The national activity will culminate in a high profile “Big Stop” at Select City Walk Mall, Saket, New Delhi where up to 150 participants are expected which will have Cristina Albertin (UNODC– Regional Representative) along with celebrities- Actor & Social Worker Nafisa Ali and Actor Chitrangda Singh showing their support. Also Present were Shri Ravi Kant , President Shakti Vahini and Advocate Supreme Court of India , Ashish Gupta , Secretary, National Media Coalition and India leading designer Jatin Kocchar along with leading activist who have been working on Anti Trafficking .

The celebrities would flag off the petition launch by signing the Stop Sex Trafficking Petition at the event & by drawing or painting around their hand on the petition Wall to support the campaign.

Huge number of celebrities & eminent personalities from various fields would be approached to support the Campaign by signing the petition and giving a sketch of their handprints.  Globally celebrities like Sir Ben Kingsley, Robert Pattinson, Katie Melua, Yoko Ono & Joanna Lumley have shown their support by signing petitions and drawing their handprints.In India, celebrities like Social Worker – Ms. Ambika Shukla, Designers – Arujn Kapoor, Anjali Kapoor, Leena, Samant Chauhan, Nida Mehmood, Photographer – Rohit Chawla and Model – Meher Bhasin have signed the petition and sent their handprints in support of the campaign.

The INDIA petition aims at raising awareness on the issue of sex trafficking and requests nationwide support for:

  • Urgent Ratification of the UN Trafficking Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children;
  • Integration of a compulsory module on trafficking in children within school curricula and teachers training programs;
  • Strengthening of the special 24/7 nation-wide toll-free helpline so that it addresses adequately the needs of children victims of trafficking;
  • Establishment of specific shelters for child victims of trafficking or existing shelters to be equipped to provide systematic adequate assistance and protection services, especially psychological counseling.

Ms Christin Albertin of UNODC with Advocate Ravi Kant , President Shakti Vahini  and Journalist Ashish Gupta at the Launch

Ms Christin Albertin of UNODC with Advocate Ravi Kant , President Shakti Vahini and Journalist Ashish Gupta at the Launch

The National Petition is witnessing strong support from the civil society also. Shakti Vahini, National Media Coalition on Trafficking, STOP, ICYO, Tronie Foundation among others have extended active support to this campaign.

Taking place in some 66 countries around the world, the fifth Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York, hosted by Former US President Bill Clinton cited this campaign as ‘an exemplary approach to addressing a specific global challenge’ Commenting on the scale of the problem at hand, Cristina Albertin from UNODC stresses the need to adopt a comprehensive approach to anti-human trafficking, promote better international cooperation and mutual legal assistance between countries and ensure the safety, rights and protection of victims in line with the provisions laid down in the Protocol to “Prevent, Suppress and Punish trafficking in persons, especially Women and Children” which supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC)- a global legally binding instrument to promote cooperation to prevent and combat transnational organized crime more effectively.  Highlighting why The Body Shop is supporting this campaign, Sameer Prasad from The Body Shop India said, “The Body Shop has never shied away from tackling controversial issues and causes that others would avoid. Indeed it was one of the dying wishes of our late founder, Dame Anita Roddick that this, the “modern-day slave trade” – human trafficking – be brought to an end. Because we believe that collectively a lot more can be done to address this problem, we have joined forces with ECPAT globally to launch a petition which aims at strengthening the legislation and protection measures and in doing so, stamp out this terrible violation of children’s rights”.

To put a “Big Stop” to Sex Trafficking, The Body Shop and ECPAT International are asking customers and supporters to go to their local The Body Shop store to sign The Stop Sex Trafficking Petition in a personalised way – by drawing or painting around their hand. Alternatively they can sign up online at www.thebodyshop.in

The partnership between The Body Shop and ECPAT was initially launched in August 2009 with The Body Shop customers able to purchase a specially developed “Soft Hands Kind Heart Hand Cream” all the profits of which go to ECPAT India Partners. So far in INDIA lacs has been raised for this cause.

Event Partner:

UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime) which actively provides technical assistance and financial assistance in South Asia through various projects for prevention, prosecution and protection to curb human trafficking in the region, is lending their support to The Body Shop® India as Event Partners in the Petition Launch.

 Advocate Ravi Kant , President Shakti Vahini  and Journalist Ashish Gupta of The National Media Coalition India at the Launch of The Petition

Advocate Ravi Kant , President Shakti Vahini and Journalist Ashish Gupta of The National Media Coalition India at the Launch of The Petition

About The Body Shop

The Body Shop International plc is the original ethical cosmetics company, now operating more than 2,500 stores in over 60 markets worldwide. The Body Shop has constantly sought out wonderful natural ingredients from all four corners of the globe to bring you products bursting with effectiveness, to enhance your natural beauty. We strive to use our planet’s resources wisely, searching for outstanding natural materials and ingredients from across the globe to include in our range of products. We continue to lead the way, introducing 100% recycled packaging, and raising funds and awareness to help prevent the spread of HIV/ AIDS, and continuing to support marginalized communities around the world through our Community Trade program.

About ECPAT International

ECPAT International is a global network composed of more than 81 member organizations in 75 countries. Members of ECPAT work to combat commercial sexual exploitation, including providing direct care to child victims public information campaigns and working with governments to design and implement action to protect children.

Please visit http://www.thebodyshop.in to sign the petition online.

NGOs worry about human trafficking during CW Games

By Colin Todhunter in The Deccan Herald

The Commonwealth Games (CWG) are coming to town…

Delhi that is. While much of the talk currently centres on corruption and an infrastructure that may not be ready in time, let’s not forget that an event such as this means big money for some. Apart from architects, the construction industry, hotels, shops and tour operators, who else will benefit financially from the games? Look no further than the sex trade, says Ruchira Gupta from the organisation Apne Aap Women Worldwide. She wants action to prevent the CWG being turned into a major opportunity for human traffickers, pimps and brothel owners.

According to Ruchira, based on visits to brothels, reports in the media and revelations from a number of NGOs, hundreds of girls are being kidnapped from all over India and are being prepared for the CWG in Rajasthan with oxytocin injections to make them more voluptuous for prostitution.

Shakti Vahini, an anti-trafficking organisation working in Delhi’s GB Road, the city’s largest red light area, has rescued between 40-45 girls since March. The rescued girls originate from some of India’s poorest states: Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam and Bihar and are between 13 and 17 years old.Many other organisations have also spoken out. Action against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children says that girls are being trafficked from poor tribal areas in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to serve the huge number of foreigners who will come to the games.

In anticipation of the games trafficked girls and women on GB Road are being given one-hour sessions every morning to learn English and are being taught words like ‘hello,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘how are you?’ and ‘please use a condom.’ What’s more, GB Road is getting a ‘face-lift’ to make it more appealing for foreign clients. LCD TVs, fridges and air conditioning are being installed by the brothel owners. Tina Jaiswal, owner of Delhi’s No 1 escort agency has stated that it hopes to make good money during the games and will simply follow the demand and supply principles of economics. She says that the agency will double its rates one month before the games begin and also increase its work force. The government has set up hundreds of condom vending machines, but Ruchira argues this is a poor substitute for protecting the rights of women and girls. She has appealed to President Pratibha Patil, to ensure that the government puts in place sufficient mechanisms to stop the proliferation of sex trafficking in the run up to the games.

These mechanisms include establishing information and surveillance booths manned by NGOs, to support girls and women who need protection from traffickers, especially in sex sites like GB Road and pick-up sites like railway stations, bus stands and metro stations.

Safety of labourers also

Measures are also being called for to protect the more marginalised women, who have been brought to Delhi as labour for the construction of roads, stadiums and houses. Apne Aap wants to ensure that they return home safely and are provided with tickets and bookings as well as protection from property snatching or rape.Sensitisation workshops are being advocated for police officials, tour operators, transporters and labour contractors concerning the treatment of women migrant workers as well as new women who are being trafficked to the city.

With one eye on the CWG, the Union government recently unveiled a code of conduct for the tourism industry aimed at encouraging tourism activities to be undertaken with respect for basic rights like dignity, safety and freedom from exploitation of both tourist and local residents. The code applies to all hotels, restaurants, guest houses, tour agents and entertainment establishments. It also applies to event management organisations, transport operators, tour guides and other services or agencies associated with the tourism sector.

The ministry acknowledges alarming trends related to tourism that have emerged in recent years concerning sexual exploitation, paedophilia, prostitution and cross-border trafficking. However, Apne Aap is concerned that the code of conduct prepared by the tourism ministry will only apply to women and girls being brought to hotels and not to the brothels. Apne Aap has therefore applied to the authorities for a place in GB Road to set up a support centre for women and girls. To date, nothing has been heard back over the application.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down. It remains to be seen just how much the pockets of pimps, brothel owners and corrupt officials will be lined from the exploitation of trafficked girls and women. Affluent foreigners (and Indians) who seek out Delhi’s red light district will have a choice if or when they visit G B Road. The same cannot be said of the girls and women who they will encounter. A combination of violence, poverty, patriarchy and greed will see to that.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/91200/ngos-worry-human-trafficking-during.html

India ready to ratify UN convention

Sahil Makkar, sahil.m@livemint.com

The move will allow the government to sign mutual legal assistance agreements with 154 member countries

Eight years after signing the United Nations (UN) convention against transnational organized crime, India is ready to ratify it and bring its laws in line with international standards.

The move will allow the government to sign mutual legal assistance agreements with 154 member-countries as well as put pressure on nations such as Pakistan to assist in efforts to combat money laundering, drugs and arms smuggling and human trafficking. The treaty is the first legally binding instrument that commits members to take collective action against human trafficking—especially of women and children—smuggling of migrants and trafficking of firearms. A senior home ministry official said after signing up in 2002, India had assessed the gap between its laws and those prescribed by the convention.“We sought comments and views of various ministries before putting it before the cabinet. We also visited many countries to review their systems,” the official said. “Earlier, it could not be cleared due to difference in views of all stakeholders. Now the gap analysis is prepared, and it was found that Indian laws sync well with the UN mandated norms,” the official added.

The matter was brought before the cabinet in April. The cabinet will take it up next week, and is likely to clear it, the official said.

A second home ministry official confirmed this, adding: “After the cabinet approval, an Indian delegation led by a minister will visit and submit documents to the UN, which will further process the matter.” Both spoke on condition of anonymity. Pakistan ratified the convention in January. “Pakistan, which has not been very cooperative on the issue of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking and smuggling of illicit firearms, can (now) be held accountable in the UN. Pakistan can be pressurized to cooperate,” the second official said.After ratifying the convention, India will be committed to taking steps against transnational organized crime and adopt new frameworks for extradition, mutual legal assistance and law enforcement cooperation. It will also have to train its officials to implement the new laws, and provide them technical assistance.

“It is a welcome and much-needed step,” said Ravi Kant, a senior Supreme Court lawyer and President of Shakti Vahini, which works against human trafficking. “India will now also adopt international practices related to rehabilitation and relief of human trafficking victims. The much-needed amendments to Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, Juvenile Justice Act, Child Labour Act and Bonded Labour Act would also be carried out.” Girija Vyas, president of the National Commission for Women, also welcomed the move.“It will really prove helpful in prevention of human trafficking as India can put pressure on other member-countries,” she said.

http://www.livemint.com/2010/08/22195051/India-ready-to-ratify-UN-conve.html?atype=tp

India: Freedom Express girl rescued from the brothels boards train to home

FREEDOM EXPRESS - SHAKTI VAHINI FIGHTS TRAFFICKING

FREEDOM EXPRESS - SHAKTI VAHINI FIGHTS TRAFFICKING

‘Friday the thirteen’ is often considered unlucky and a day shrouded under the shadow of bad omen. But, for 15 year old Kakoli*, last 13 August 2010, a Friday, was a landmark day, one of the luckiest of her life.  After waiting impatiently with her family at the busy New Delhi Railway Station, the 4:30 p.m. Purva Express took her back home and to freedom.

FREEDOM EXPRESS - SHAKTI VAHINI FIGHTS TRAFFICKING
FREEDOM EXPRESS – SHAKTI VAHINI FIGHTS TRAFFICKING

Kakoli is a survivor of human trafficking rescued recently by the Delhi Police and Shakti Vahini, a non profit organisation, from the largest ‘red light’ district in New Delhi, also known as the Garstin Bastion (G.B.) Road. UNODC met her at the railway station to learn about her real story – how she was trafficked to and treated at the brothels and about her miraculous escape.

“I am 15 years old and am from Sonapuri, West Bengal. My village is very close to the border area of  Bangladesh. My childhood girl friend introduced me to her boy friend from the next village. He was fun and would treat us well. I began spending a lot of time with them. One day her boy friend took me alone for a picnic to another village. He kept insisting that my friend would arrive shortly. He offered me food that put me to sleep almost immediately. I would wake up from time to time feeling groggy, unable to speak and nauseous. I knew I was on a train but to where – I had no idea.

When I woke up it was night. The station was not familiar; strange language and people. My eyes were searching desperately for a known face or landmark. I finally read ‘New Delhi’ on a board. It is then I knew something was wrong. I first was hesitant to go with them, but it was safer to go along than be abandoned in an unknown place. They took me to a house and fed me something again that put me to sleep. Next day they took me to brothel 5211 in G.B. Road. I was told my girl friend is waiting there for me. When I saw so many young, decked up girls – I knew I was sold for prostitution.

I fought, screamed and tried to wriggle free. A fat lady dragged me inside and locked me in a dingy room. They beat me with a thick stick all over my body. My face was so bruised I could not recognize myself. I eventually resigned and started entertaining the customers. I lived in that cramped, dark place for a month. One of the regular customers grew very fond of me. He was caring and considerate and would often ask why I am sad. I told him my story and gave him the mobile number of my brother.

FREEDOM EXPRESS - SHAKTI VAHINI FIGHTS TRAFFICKING
FREEDOM EXPRESS – SHAKTI VAHINI FIGHTS TRAFFICKING

He happened to have a friend in the Delhi Police Crime Branch, who contacted my family. The Delhi Police Department informed Shakti Vahini. On 6 August 2010 at 4 p.m. police officials and outreach workers of Shakti Vahini, barged into the brothel. There was a lot of commotion. Then all of a sudden I saw my mother standing there. I ran out of my room screaming and embraced her!”

Mr. Rishi Kant, Chief Coordinator of National Media Coalition and social worker with Shakti Vahini shares, this is a rare success story, but it is not an impossible one. Only in the last month, Shakti Vahini has rescued 44 victims of human trafficking from the New Delhi Railway Station.  To repeat such success stories, we need stronger collaboration between the central administration, state police department and the judiciary. In addition, there has to be inter-coordination between the Railway, Labour and Women and Child Development Ministries including the National Commission for Women and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Organizations like UNODC can bring these stakeholders together on a common platform and facilitate advocacy on trafficking in persons at the international level.”

Shakti Vahini helps in the rescue and rehabilitation of survivors of human trafficking.  National Media Coalition is a forum comprising of 700 committed journalists, who use the media to partner with non governmental organizations and the Government of India to highlight and address issues on human trafficking and HIV and AIDS. Both organizations  are active partners of the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) that brings together stakeholders from allover the world to  prevent and combat human trafficking.

http://www.unodc.org/southasia/en/frontpage/2010/August/india-freedom-express.html

Eye on Games business, city sees spurt in trafficking of minor girls

Neha Jain, TNN, Aug 16, 2010, TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Sixteen-year-old Sujata had gone to attend the annual fair in her village a month ago when she was intoxicated by two men and put on a train to Delhi. She was rescued from the capital’s redlight area last week. The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) said the girl, who was trafficked from South 24 Parganas in West Bengal, is traumatized and needs counselling. After being handed over to police by NGO Shakti Vahini, which rescued her from brothel number 512 on GB Road, Sujata was sent to the children’s home at Nirmal Chhaya in Tihar Jail.

“The two men gave me something to eat and I immediately fell unconscious. I do not remember anything after that. The days I spent in the brothel were a nightmare. I was beaten up if I refused to entertain a customer,” said Sujata. Over the past one month, the authorities say, several minor girls have been rescued from the GB Road area and the railway stations in the capital. According to child rights NGOs, with the Commonwealth Games approaching, young girls are being lured by placement agencies which promise them work in the city.

SHAKTI VAHINI COORDINATOR COUNSELLING  A VICTIM IN PRESENCE OF WEST BENGAL POLICE

SHAKTI VAHINI COORDINATOR COUNSELLING A VICTIM IN PRESENCE OF WEST BENGAL POLICE

“We have seen a spurt in such cases over the past one month. The victims are mostly those who were promised work in Delhi ahead of the Commonwealth Games by placement agencies, but were instead sold off to pimps and forced into sex work,” said Surinder Jeet Kaur, SHO, Kamla Market police station.

Minor girls continue to be the main target. Some of them are even injected with oxytocin to attain puberty at a younger age. Another 16-year-old, Chhaya, was rescued recently from a GB Road brothel. She, too, was picked up from her village in West Bengal. “The madam at the brothel would force me to entertain customers for over 12 hours a day,” she said. After being rescued by police, the girl has been living at Nirmal Chhaya.

No less heartrending is the story of 13-year-old Kashish, who was rescued from Gurgaon. She was gangraped after which got pregnant. Two days back, she delivered a baby girl. ” Kashish was forced to have sex with two men, who used to visit her daily. She was beaten up and locked inside the room if she refused,” said Pooja, coordinator of Child Line, who was herself rescued four years after being forced into sex work.

Three girls, including two minors, who were brought to the capital from Jharkhand and Orissa were recently rescued from New Delhi railway station. ‘‘Most of the trafficked girls are from West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand. They fall into the trap of middlemen who bring them here on the pretext of giving them jobs. The crime is fast spreading and there should be strict action against those involved in child trafficking,’’ said Rishi kant of Shakti Vahini.

NGOs hold multiple agencies responsible for the plight of these young girls blaming them for lack of coordination. “There is no exchange of information between the ministries. It must be ensured that such activities do not go unchecked in the garb of labour migration. The ministry for women and child, for labour and the railway ministry should work together,” added Rishi kant, who said a team from the NGO is present at the railway station every day to keep a lookout for any such victims.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Eye-on-Games-business-city-sees-spurt-in-trafficking-of-minor-girls/articleshow/6316457.cms

4 minors among 5 girls rescued

Devesh K. Pandey

NEW DELHI: Five girls, including four minors, who were allegedly trafficked into the Capital from Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar have been rescued at New Delhi railway station by non-government organisation Shakti Vahini. The minor girls were produced before the Child Welfare Committee that sent them to Nirmal Chhaya.

Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini said three of the girls were rescued around 3-30 a.m. “One of them, who hails from Orissa, was first taken to Ranchi where she was criminally assaulted by one Kuldeep. The other two victims, one of whom is 20 years, are from Jharkhand. They were brought to the Capital from Ranchi by Kuldeep, who runs a placement agency,” he said, adding that the accused managed to escape. Kuldeep had brought the victims on the pretext of providing jobs to them.

The other two girls, who hail from Siwan in Bihar, were also rescued at New Delhi railway station around 5-30 a.m. The five were first produced before the Government Railway Police for necessary legal action. “We have sought proper assistance from the railway police in carrying out investigations as trafficking of minors through trains is on the rise,” said Mr. Kant, adding that efforts were being made to locate the placement agency being run by Kuldeep. Mr. Kant said in the past 45 days, the organisation has rescued 29 minors at New Delhi railway station. Among those rescued were two Bangladeshi boys, who were trafficked into the country and sent to the Capital on board the Poorva Express.

http://hindu.com/2010/08/13/stories/2010081362030300.htm