TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN THROUGH PLACEMENT AGENCIES – INDIA TODAY HINDI ARTICLE -AUGUST 3 , 2011
TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN THROUGH PLACEMENT AGENCIES – INDIA TODAY HINDI ARTICLE -AUGUST 3 , 2011
With skewed sex ratios it is impossible to find a local mate for each man
With skewed sex ratios it is difficult to find a local mate
Decades of unchecked sex-selective abortions have made the once fertile States of Punjab and Haryana suffer a drought of brides, making human-trafficking a lucrative and expanding trade. Often projected as a voluntary marriage, every year, thousands of young women and girls are lured into the idea of a happy married life with a rich man in Punjab or Haryana. Sadly most ‘purchased brides’ are exploited, denied basic rights, duplicated as maids, and eventually abandoned.
With skewed sex ratios (Punjab-893, Haryana-877 females per 1,000 males) it is impossible to find a bride for each man, and ‘importing a bride’ has become the only solution. Also, with the tradition of not marrying within the same village and eligible girls marrying the wealthiest suitor, often NRIs, the majority of men in villages are left unmarried and often addicted to drugs.
“What is wrong in marrying a poor girl? I demanded no dowry, rather her family’s social and economic position has improved,” said an agitated Prakash Singh of Harsola village in Kaithal (Haryana), when asked why he married a 19-year-old girl hailing from a poor village from Assam. Interestingly, Mr. Singh has three brothers and no sister; he does not believe that there is any dearth of women in his village.
“There were no eligible girls in our village or social circle. After my son turned 35, we realised that unless we accept a non-Punjabi girl he would never be married and no one would carry the family name forward; so we had to make arrangements,” said Mahinder Singh, an elderly man in Pohlo Majra, Fatehgarh Sahib (Punjab). The migration might seem to be a measure to correct the gender imbalance, but the ultimate goal is producing sons.
“Marriage to an imported bride makes caste, language and culture immaterial as long as the price is paid to the girl’s family and a male child is born. Depending on the age, looks and virginity of a girl, grooms pay anywhere from Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 300,000,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, a non-governmental organisation working on the issue.
The obvious need gives the practice a social sanction and makes it look like a social service: Sushma Kaur of Pohlo Majra, who married a Sikh man 15 years elder to her, calls it a ‘blessing.’ “My uncle arranged the match, it was difficult in the beginning because of the new language and the culture, but my husband took care of me…My village in Bengal has an excess of females and no one to care for them, and it is a great service if I can arrange a matrimonial match. Ever since I got married, 10 years ago, over a dozen girls have followed me from Bengal,” she says with pride. She added that none of the girls were ill-treated; however, it was not unheard of.
A field study on the impact of sex ratio on the pattern of marriages in Haryana by Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra covering over 10,000 households, revealed that over 9,000 married women in Haryana were bought from other States. The study which covered 92 villages of Mahendragarh, Sirsa, Karnal, Sonepat, and Mewat districts said that most of the people accepted it as a common practice, but denied having bought a bride in their family.
“In every village there are over 50 girls that have been bought; some of them as young as 13 and a very small percentage of the ‘sold for marriage’ women are found to be living a married life. Most are untraceable or exploited or duplicated as domestic servants by the agents or men who marry/buy them. There are also instances of girls being resold to other persons after living a married life for a few years,” the study added.
Most of them come from poverty-ridden villages of Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa, because their families need money; and despite the prevalence of the dowry system in the north Indian states, men are ready to pay for a wife.
The pretext of marriage and the social sanction makes it difficult for police or NGOs to trace the trafficking or the atrocities, as women rarely speak of the domestic disturbances. According to Shakti Vahini, there are very few women who lead settled married lives, most go through unbearable torture and exploitation. “They are treated like commodities; they have no rights and no voice. We have rescued women who are raped and beaten and denied medical attention for years before they are dumped at a bus stand or railway station. They cannot defend themselves, they cannot even name the village they come from or the man who bought and later sold them. Women are not a supply-demand commodity; justifying trafficking by stating skewed sex ratio and poverty is only making things difficult for the women.”
TIMES OF INDIA
NEW DELHI: A man was arrested on Tuesday for the murder of Shyamali Bhuiya, the 19-year-old woman from West Bengal who was missing since 2008. Yograj Singh is a resident of Bulandshahr in UP and the main accused in the case. Two of his accomplices were arrested last month. In a joint operation, cops from Delhi, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh and members of NGO Shakti Vahini, arrested Yograj in Bulandshahr .
Shyamali was lured to Delhi by three persons: an agent named Dasrath, and two women named Tulsi and Kela, on the pretext of giving her a job. She was taken to Vrindavan in UP and sold off to Yograj for Rs 60,000. She was forced to marry Yograj, a man thrice her age. When her family received no information about her, they moved the Calcutta High Court. The court ordered the anti-human trafficking unit of West Bengal Police to find her and produce her in court. The cops sought Shakti Vahini’s help to probe the case in Delhi and UP.
Accordingly, on July 4 this year, a five-member arrived in Delhi and went to Bulandshahr from there. “Yograj’s house was raided . Further inquiry indicated that that she was killed and her remains disposed of. Locals told the team that a skeleton was found, but no case was registered. Cops suspected that at least five people, including Yograj, were directly involved in the case. Yograj’s elder brother, Maharaj, and one Uttam Singh, the brother of another suspect named Lakshman , were arrested,” said a cop.
New Delhi, Aug 12 (PTI) The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights today expressed hope that the Bill on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, currently in the Rajya Sabha, will be passed quickly. Offering support to a global campaign against child trafficking, NCPCR chairperson Shantha Sinha said the Commission has been “burdened” by the voices of three lakh Indians who have petitioned on child trafficking.
“It is a shame that children are being treated the way that they are. It is totally unacceptable. These petitions are a burden on the Commission and they are nudging us to wake up and complete our work,” she told reporters here.
Sinha expressed hope that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011 will be passed by Parliament at the earliest. While the Bill has legalised consensual sex with a person aged between 16-18 years, it has to be considered whether the consent for such act has been obtained by use of violence, force, intoxicants, drugs and deceit. This law will cover all new aspects of sexual offences against children not covered by any other existing law.The petitions have been collected by the Body Shop as part of its “Stop Sex Trafficking” campaign through which more than three lakh people across 30 Indian cities have pledged to stand up against child trafficking and sexual abuse.
“Our forte is awareness creation and we have raised ten lakh pounds in charity for our global signature campaign that will make people understand the cause of child trafficking and come out in its support,” Shriti Malhotra, the Chief Operating Officer for Body Shop India said.All petitions in 65 countries, that have been collected through the campaign will be presented to the United Nations by the end of this year. (More) PTI VMR ETB
A group of cyclists are on a mission to spread awareness against child abuse. They are pedalling to raise funds so that children from the economically weaker sections could be provided education. Meet the Team T3 cycling group – Manas Arvind, Dr Chiro Mitra, Jasbir Singh, Nitish Bajaj and Sayantan Chakraboti who have taken up the noble cause. All acheivers in their own right, they say they want to contribute for the welfare of the future leaders of the country. Arvind, a businessman by profession, said, “Cycling is our passion but now it is our mission. Sometimes people bid saying if we cycle 200 kilometres, they would contribute Rs 200 and that’s how we are generating money.”
Dr Mitra, a veterinary surgeon, said, “We ride miles to bring smiles. We just need to open our eyes and realise that there are many children who are being exploited.” Members of the organisation feel that though the police department has introduced a child helpline number (1098), many people are still not aware. “We also have a Facebook group. Presently, we have 50 members who have started cycling with a mission,” Arvind added. In February this year, the group cycled from Gurgaon to Ajmer and raised funds to purchase a rescue vehicle for Shakti Vahini, an NGO.
VIVEK CHHETRI IN THE TELEGRAPH KOLKATA
Darjeeling, Aug. 7: Darjeeling police have put job placement agencies under the scanner to curb inter-state trafficking but social workers said the measure was not enough and only a proper legislation on lines of recent directives issued by Delhi High Court could serve the purpose.
According to figures released by the Bengal CID to an RTI query filed by the Delhi based anti-trafficking organization Shakti Vahini, the number of missing people in the state has increased from 196 to 6514 between 2001 and 2010.
While only three missing cases were reported from the six north Bengal districts in 2001, the number increased to 1089 in 2010 — one of the indications that a large number of people were leaving the region to seek job elsewhere in the country.
The figure, according to Shakti Vahini continues to rise, yet there is no clear data on the placement agencies working in the state.
“Along with Delhi police, we rescued two girls, one from Mirik in Darjeeling and the other from Sikkim on July 30 during a raid on a placement agency (in the capital). The police seized documents with details of those given job placements by the agency, a box of identity cards and a Nepalese passport belonging to one Tek Bahadur,” said Rishi Kant, a social activist with Shakti Vahini.
The girls were produced before the Child Welfare Committee at Lajpat Nagar on August 1. Delhi High Court then directed the Govindpuri police station to conduct an ossification test on one of the victims to determine her age, check out the condition of all those who had been placed by the agency, rescue the children and also trace a14-year-old girl in Jaipur.
Kant said the raid only proved that quite a number of children are being forced into bonded labour and prostitution but the placement agencies continue to work undeterred because of a lack of proper legislation in Bengal.
“On December 24, 2010, Delhi High Court said emphasis should be laid on the regulation of placementagencies,” said Kant. The court had then observed that a single window enforcement agency should be created and directed the labour department to register all placement agencies within a specified date.
Until the registration was completed, the court asked the Delhi labour department to provide all available data on placement agencies, including the age of the workers who had been provided with placements, employers’ names and the addresses, to the Child Welfare Committee and the Delhi Commission for Women.
“Such measures also need to be taken up by the Bengal government. In this state anyone can run an inter-state domestic placement agency by merely getting a trade licence,” said Kant.
The Darjeeling superintendent of police D.P. Singh said he was not aware of any regulation on the working of placement agencies. “However, we have put placement agencies under the scanner. We recently started cases against three of them for providing jobs abroad without clearance from the immigration department. We are randomly sending our officials to various placement agencies to verify their genuineness of their purpose,” said Singh.