Efforts to rehabilitate them diluted due to indiscretion of judicial magistrates

(Hyderabad) While an estimated 1.5 lakh children and women in the State are victims of trafficking and sexual abuse; efforts to rescue and rehabilitate them are being gravely diluted due to indiscretion of judicial magistrates.

Even as few victims are rescued due to surreptitious nature of trafficking, many of them fail to be rehabilitated due to inopportune releases. “Many rescued victims are immediately taken away by traffickers and are again subjected to sexual abuse. This is because magistrates release them merely on production of certificates, which are most often counterfeit. This has been our grouse,” says Chaya Ratan, Principal Secretary to Government, Women Development and Child Welfare Department (WDCWD). Officials informed that magistrates order release without even seeking social investigation report, family background or case studies of the victims. In November last year, over 60 sexually exploited minor children were rescued from areas of Chandrapur and Yavartala, but officials informed that they were released within days without being provided any opportunity for counselling, education or training. The ‘Swadhar’ and ‘Ujjawala’ homes established by the government are being run with support of NGOs, for rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked women. But, NGOs too allege that such releases are leaving them incapacitated. “Most women and child victims are harassed both physically and mentally. While they are rescued and brought to the home, we are forced to release most of them within a week due to court orders. Some even leave in a day,” said the manager of an Ujjwala home in Ramanthapur.

“When the court that is supposed to protect their rights orders their release, we are powerless and can do nothing for their rehabilitation in such a short span,” she added. Several NGOs running the homes suggested that victims would benefit from such a scheme only if they are made to stay for at least three months.

 “Several times we know that the person seeking release is the trafficker, but we have to let them go due to orders from a magistrate. Many are brought back to the home a second time after being caught in raids again,” said Padmavati of Kasturbha Gandhi National Memorial Trust which runs a Swadhar home.

 Officials of the WDCWD had brought the issue to the notice of the Chief Justice in 2009 and had also written to the Registrar of the High Court requesting review of training curriculum for judicial magistrates to incorporate such concerns. Officials informed that they are still awaiting response.



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