Female foeticide is a major factor resulting in trafficking of women from across the country to Haryana for forced marriages and the situation has only been worsened by widespread unemployment and the low status accorded to women in the State, says the first-ever UN commissioned report on human trafficking in Haryana.

Most of the women brought to Haryana for forced marriages are from Assam and West Bengal and the districts of Karnal, Mewat, Rewari, Kurukshetra, Jind, Yamuna Nagar and Hisar in Haryana are the major destinations for these trafficked women, says the report titled ‘Current Status of Victim Service Providers and Criminal Justice Actors in India on Anti-Human Trafficking’, adding that the process of bridal migration was gaining momentum in the State and the sale and trafficking aspects of it needed immediate attention. In Mewat, there are many women who are being brought from States like Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh and are forced to get married against their will. These girls are popularly known as “Paro”.

According to a 2004 report by non-government organisation Shakti Vahini, 100s of young girls and women are lured and sold into involuntary marriages in North India, says the report on human trafficking. They are bartered at prices that vary depending on their age, beauty and virginity and exploited under conditions that amount to a modern form of slavery. Although trafficking of women and girls has become a lucrative and expanding trade in these regions, it routinely escapes effective administrative and social sanctions and the general response is to deny the existence of any such problem.

A large number of women are also trafficked to Haryana from Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh for domestic work and are forced to work under bonded labour like conditions, according to the report. Gurgaon and Faridabad are the major destinations for the girls and women trafficked to Haryana for domestic work and a large number of them even become victims of sexual exploitation, says the report.The trafficked domestic helps, mostly minor girls, are supplied in Haryana by the placement agencies operating in Delhi and once these children land up in their employer’s house they end up in slavery. In many cases, these children become the victims of sexual exploitation at the hands of either the placement agency owner or the employer themselves. The placement agencies illegally run their business and have good links in the source areas. The agency owners bring girls from the source states with the help of their organised network and employ them as bonded labour.

Most of the victims are trafficked through railway routes and they are transited via Delhi. These women and girls are also sent to the border areas of Rajasthan from Haryana.

According to the report, the Haryana Government has initiated various schemes for the care and protection of trafficked victims and children. However, there is an absence of monitoring mechanism and minimum standards of victim care and protection and it was highlighted when the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights team detected cases of selling of infants and sexual exploitation of girls at a State-supported “Swadhar” Home in Rohtak recently.

Sounding the warning bells, the report says it may take Haryana more than 50 years to reach its natural sex ratio even if the Government ensures that not a single sex determination takes place in the State. The demand for marriageable age girls will be much more intense in the coming years and the demand met by inter-State marriages. The challenge before the State of Haryana as well as regions of Western Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan is to ensure that the bride demand is not catered to through human trafficking. The governments in these regions should ensure legislations which protect the rights of women and children, says the report.

More suffering awaits the rescued

2index.phpTHE HINDU

For three months, 18-year-old Geeta (name changed), who was kidnapped from her village in West Bengal and brought to the Capital, was confined to a small room in a brothel at G.B. Road and was repeatedly ‘raped’ by over a dozen men every day. Her trauma only ended after a client turned Good Samaritan and helped her escape.

Geeta was just like one of the hundreds of girls in the area who are kept as bonded labour with the only contact to the outside world being their customers.

“I still remember the day I was rescued. A Nepali girl and I were stuffed into a small tunnel in the terrace when the police conducted a raid. I was terrified and the police had to break down three tunnels before they found us. But my suffering is far from over,” said Geeta, sitting in The Hindu ’s office in Delhi earlier this week flanked by her aged father and brother.

“Geeta comes from a low-income group family and immediately after she was rescued, she was taken to Nari Niketan and ever since her father and brother have been forced to make frequent trips to Delhi for various police and court-related actions. The government pays only for the travel/stay of the victim, but Geeta cannot come to Delhi alone,” said Ravi Kant of non-government organisation Shakti Vahini, which works in the area of anti-trafficking. The group also worked with Geeta’s parents and the police and helped in her rescue.

“It is only because of the sustained work of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and our initiative that the family has been able to come to Delhi and fight the case through this complex legal system,” added Mr. Kant.

While the government and police work well for the rescue of the victims, the follow-up is poor. “Most of the girls who are kidnapped and pushed into the flesh trade are from poor families, that have little access and means to sustain a legal battle to ensure that the kidnappers and brothel owners are brought to justice. They are fighting a system which is well-established, is riddled with corruption and in which information given to the victim is scant,” rued Mr. Kant.

Geeta, who is still coming to terms with the recent events and her ‘lucky escape’, said: “The brothel owners always kept us under a strict regime and there was absolutely no freedom. I cannot forget this episode; it has ruined my family. But now I am keen to finish my education and get a good job.”

“But not many are as lucky as Geeta,” said Rajesh Bhardawaj, who works with sex workers through non-government organisation Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha . “The women here are kept in the most unhygienic conditions and often come to us with skin problems, infections, injury marks, substance dependence and drug abuse problems. There is also no data available about their mental and emotional well-being. They are never tested for lifestyle diseases (with most having no access to a balanced diet, adequate rest and exercise) and sexually transmitted diseases for the fear of stigma and loss of business and livelihood. Their children are almost always sent away from the area by the age of three to five.”

Meanwhile, a brothel owner, Salman (name changed), who has been working and living in the area for the past four decades, too complained about the conditions in the area. “Crime and abuse is rampant in the area and the rights of the sex workers are undercut using corruption and exploitation. The government is not serious about the welfare of these women and that is the only reason this abuse continues unabated. Finish GB Road culture or legalise the trade – that is the only way to save these women.”

It’s Catch-22 for us, say the police


Why does the Delhi Police dither when it comes to taking action against those involved in trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls at the brothels in the heart of the city on Shraddhanand Marg? The police claim that they are caught in a Catch-22 situation because of the “unclear policy on management and supervision” of brothels.

‘No clarity’

“People often make casual accusations of us taking bribes from brothels to allow the murky business to run unhindered. Concerned over the rampant sexual abuse of minor girls, when we recently initiated a discussion on cracking down on these brothels, we were told about an unpleasant experience the Crime Branch personnel were once faced with when they dared to take harsh measures. The move was opposed from all quarters and the unit had to beat a hasty retreat. It has been business as usual on Shraddhanand Marg since then. However, whenever we receive credible information on any girl being kept in confinement, we conduct raids and rescue them in coordination with non-government organisations,” said a senior police officer.

The officer said there was no clear instruction on how to deal with the flesh trade flourishing in these brothels.

“Flesh trade is not legalised in India and therefore, the brothels are being run illegally. Whenever the matter reaches the court, the brothel owners take the plea that they are in the business of singing, dancing and organising mujra ,” said lawyer Ravi Kant.

This year so far, the police have rescued 26 women. “Among them, those who were above 18 years of age said they were in the flesh trade on their own volition and hence, the courts concerned sent them to Nari Niketan. With respect to minors, we have registered six cases. Also, we have been actively assisting our counterparts in other States in rescuing the girls trafficked from different parts of the country. Since in such cases the First Information Reports are registered at places from where the minors are kidnapped, we now have anti-human trafficking units which also operate in close coordination with the police in other States,” said another officer.


Having detected instances of forced sexual exploitation of minors and women in 12 brothels, the Central Delhi Police had earlier recommended their closure to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate concerned. “Once the necessary orders were issued, the brothel owners appealed in court and the matter is hanging fire. This year, we have recommended the closure of three brothels for the same reason,” said the officer.

Ownerships of brothels are also being ascertained to ensure that legal action can be initiated against them in cases of human trafficking and sexual abuse of minors.

‘No one comes to see these girls’


Right outside the Kamla Market police post on Shraddhanand Marg is a board which displays photographs of women who are missing. They are mostly young girls for whom the police of various States have ostensibly been searching.

The road, infamous as the red light area of Delhi, is pockmarked with buildings which house brothels where many such girls land up. However, hardly ever has a real effort been made to search for them and set them free. Hundreds of girls live there in abhorrent and inhuman conditions, only to be forced to entertain dozens of customers each day. They remain the main source of revenue for their malik , malkin and pimps and are treated no better than pieces of flesh.

‘No one found’

“It is the police from other States which normally provides us with the photographs of the girls who have gone missing and who they suspect could have landed up in the brothels here,” said a beat constable at the post. “But I don’t recall any of these girls ever being found through these photographs, as no one comes to see them.”

The cop insisted that in the years he has been in the area he has only seen subservience from the sex workers towards the kotha owners. “They seldom speak up against them. The main problem the police face here is from the customers, who mostly come drunk, and the pimps as they often pick fights.”

In fact, just last year a beat constable, Vijender, was knifed to death in the area by some customers when he tried to prevent them from attacking a person. As a precaution now, when the constables step out for patrolling duty around G.B. Road they mostly do so in pairs or in groups.

The policeman said the girls rarely complain about being held captive.“It is the NGOs who normally come up with the complaints and then raids are conducted. During raids, we do not face any problem from the brothel owners.”

While the flesh trade taking place in the area is well-known, the Delhi Police confines itself to mere maintenance of law and order and does not interfere in the functioning of the kothas . But while the kotha owners appear to have bought peace with the police, the fact that only about 2,600 of the nearly 3,500 sex workers in the area are registered with health workers speaks volumes about how these women are kept confined and away from the eyes of the law.index.php



Almost all the 3,500-odd sex workers confined to the 96 brothels in the Capital’s red-light area on Shraddhanand Marg – earlier referred to as G.B. Road – have a tale of exploitation and human rights abuses to narrate.

The government and the police are far from taking action against brothel owners. The sex workers say they are “treated as the Capital’s shame – brushed under the carpet, only to be remembered when required”.

“Poverty and the promise of a decent life for our children keeps us here,” says Savitri at a government-aided health care centre in Lahori Gate.

She and a group of other workers came to the centre at 4.30 p.m., previously an impossible time for the women to be out of the brothels.

“Four o’ clock onwards clients start coming in, but these days the steep price rise has hit the business hard. This is the first time in 10 years that I haven’t had a customer in four days,” says a nervous-looking Mamta (36). She came to Delhi from Andhra Pradesh a decade ago and has three daughters and elderly parents to support back home.

“I am a mother of three young girls who I have left behind in Andhra Pradesh with my old parents. I know how ruthless life can be. Life here on G.B. Road is only about making money,” she says.

Lata came to Delhi when she was only five years old and was pushed into the flesh trade at the young age of 11. She has no hope of things changing for the better any time soon. “During elections, politicians and parties of all colour and shape come to meet us promising the world and more. We are forgotten immediately after the circus is over,” quips the 48-year-old.

Lata is angry that the violence and torture sex workers are subjected to and the lives they are forced to lead go unnoticed. “The sex workers and their children here have no rights. Be it access to nutritious and assured supply of food, security (financial/physical), education and health care facilities, crèche for our children, schools or playground, none is available. There are no fixed working hours and social interaction with the outside world is almost non-existent. We are discriminated against on the grounds of our profession.”

“We are confined to our rooms for years at a stretch. We are not allowed to step out even to see a doctor. It is only when the brothel owners are sure that we have nowhere else to go that they allow us out. Where have the law, politicians and police been all these years?” Lata asks.

Today she lives on the streets after being thrown out by her brothel owner. “I am old now and don’t bring in any business,” she says. “Now I have no rights as a worker or as a human being. Worse, I have no social security. Sex trade is a reality and because it is not legalised we are exploited at all levels.”

Sex workers across the country have long been demanding that their trade be legalised so that the women can have better quality of life.

Khairati Lal Bhola (85) of the Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha, a non-government organisation that works with sex workers across the country, says: “There are 1,100 red light areas in India and 23 lakh sex workers with 54 lakh children living there. The income of these sex workers is shared by kothamalins , touts, police and others in the system. The sex worker gets only 25 per cent of her income and that too is often spent on medical treatment and rations. Almost all of them lead a hand-to-mouth existence. If sex trade is legalised, then there can be a greater chance for these women to earn more.”

Previously, the Supreme Court constituted a committee of legal experts to look into the cause of sex trade and suggest ways to bring this population into the national mainstream. “So far there has been no concrete outcome from this group,” Mr. Bhola says.

He says commercial sexual exploitation today is not purely brothel-based but has spread everywhere – residential areas, hotels and clubs. “With the advancement of technologies and changing global scenario, sex trade has emerged in diverse forms.”

Rishi Kant of non-government organisation Shakti Vahini, which works in the area of anti-trafficking, said: “The steep rise in human trafficking is because of several social factors including poverty, illiteracy, natural calamities and rapid globalisation. Human trafficking works strictly on demand and supply and is a basket of crime which violates several laws and rights. Currently there is no authentic database for human trafficking and it continues to be difficult to ascertain how many women are affected. Also corruption and strong inter-State/country network of suppliers and demand makes the circle very vicious and unbreakable for women.”

With the Delhi High Court stepping in earlier this week and seeking “information on the number of rescue operations undertaken, the total number of girls rescued and how many FIRs have been lodged so far,” many believe things will change while others remain sceptical. Mamta says: “I truly hope that the direction to the Delhi Police to also take action against those not registering FIRs following rescue of girls would bring about a real change.”

Delhi High Court glare on brothel owners


The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said inaction against brothel owners and failure to lodge FIR against them was the main reason why a large number of rescued minor girls are once again forced back into flesh trade.

The court also asked the petitioner, human rights NGO Shakti Vahini, and the Delhi Police to compile details of how many girls have been rescued from various brothels in the last one year and how many FIRs have been lodged in this regard.

Seeking action against those who have not lodged FIRs, a bench of acting chief justice BD Ahmed and justice Vibhu Bakhru said, “if a person does not lodge an FIR, that itself is a punishable offence. Find out who all are responsible and take action against them.”

“This court seeks information on the number of rescue operations undertaken, the total number of girls rescued and how many FIRs have been lodged so far,” said the bench.

The court order came following a complaint by the NGO that many girls rescued by NGOs and police are brought back by the owners of brothels by sending fictitious persons to the court to pose as their parents to take their custody. Following a complaint by another NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the court is also looking into whether some of the Capital’s placement agencies were indulging in flesh trade.

The court had in 2010 ordered a CBI probe into the role of a prominent Rohini-based placement agency.

Missing Karnal kids: Police suspect child-trafficking racket


KARNAL: With more than 10 children reportedly missing in Karnal district over the last two months, the police suspect the role of a gang involved in human trafficking behind their disappearance.

The district police have received 10 complaints of missing children — four girls and six boys in the age group of two-and-a-half to 10 years. Four children have been traced while the remaining are still missing.

Officials running the children’s helpline, which was set up by the district administration to monitor the progress of cases of missing kids, also apprehend the involvement of a gang of child traffickers. Helpline counselor Bhawna Sharma said the plight of the parents whose children have gone missing was hard to put in words. “Even the manner in which the children have disappeared is startling. A few weeks back, a girl, Shalu, disappeared within minutes of her father halting his scooter at a gas station for refuel,” she told TOI.

Raj Kumar and his wife Kavita have been running from pillar to post during the last three months, trying to trace their missing daughter Kiran. The girl went missing from the ‘pakka pul’ (concrete bridge) on national highway-1 (NH-1) on the outskirts of Karnal and an FIR was registered at the Madhuban police station. Raj alleged, “All efforts to locate our daughter have proved futile. Even the police department has not done much in the case.”

Meanwhile, Karnal superintendent of police (SP) Shashank Anand maintained that the department was working to trace the missing children and had uploaded the details on its website. “The details of the missing children is regularly updated on the website so that anyone having any information about them could contact the department,” said the SP.

Missing children, trafficking, biggest worries post-Uttarakhand disaster



Official estimates peg the number of children missing in Uttarakhand post the flashfloods in June at 1,227 and as the State embarks on an exercise to assess its damage and rebuild what it has lost, it is not only struggling to locate these missing children but to also to bring back on track the life of nearly 2.5 lakh children who are currently out of school.

There are no schools to go to in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, at least for now. While some have been entirely washed away, a large number are just dilapidated buildings and others have been transformed into shelters.

“The schools are still shut. We have begun the process of assessing the condition of school buildings and so far have found 180 such schools that need repair and rebuilding. The survey is underway and we still don’t have the figures for severely-affected areas of Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Pithoragarh and Kumaon,” Manisha Pawar, Secretary School Education, Uttarakhand told The Hindu .

Rehabilitation and counselling

The State Government is working out a financial package to rebuild schools and has announced a one-time grant of Rs. 500 per student to help them buy books and uniforms. “The district magistrates have been given the authorisation to decide when to open the schools. Depending on the weather forecasts and the conditions on the ground, they can take a call on whether schools can be reopened. Officially, all schools are shut till July 10. After that we will focus on how to make up for the lost days,” Ms. Pawar said.

While the authorities are concerned about the disturbance to the academic calendar, non-government organisations are worried about the impact that the closure of schools will have on these students, and how the State will ensure their rehabilitation and counselling to deal with the trauma that they have had to face.

Step up vigilance

Organisations like the Bachpan Bachao Aandolan have also cautioned against possible child trafficking in the State. Chairperson of NGO Global March Against Child Labour and founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Kailash Satyarthi said based on the experiences of previous natural disasters, he feared that Uttarakhand might turn out to be a hunting ground for child traffickers.

“I have seen this before during the tsunami, during the Assam and Bihar floods. Children who are orphaned or lose contact with their families become easy targets for the traffickers. In Bihar, during the Kosi floods, we rescued about 24 children from various places, including from trains,” he said.

Urging the government to step up vigilance and monitor movement at railway stations, airports and bus stands, Mr. Satyarthi said the administration should take pre-emptive measures to ensure that the traffickers cannot make inroads into the State.

Vulnerable to trafficking

His concerns about trafficking are shared by the administration and other NGOs, though they are quick to point out that there have been no instances of children being trafficked so far. “Right now the focus is on finding the missing children. Of the nearly 600-plus deaths confirmed in Kedar Valley, nearly 30 per cent were children. As per the official data, there is only one girl child whose parents cannot be traced and she is currently in Doon Hospital,” said Suresh Balodi, state manager, Plan India.

Child and women trafficking, he said, is a “possibility” given that a large number of families in several villages have lost their earning members.

“Young women, especially the ones who were recently married and have now lost their husbands; young children, out-of-school children are all vulnerable to trafficking. The administration and the social organisations working in the State will have to keep an eye on them and work out a plan for their rehabilitation to ensure that no instances of trafficking take place,” Mr. Balodi stressed.

Trafficked tribal girl found dead under mysterious circumstances

Mysterious DeathTHE HINDU

A minor tribal Christian girl trafficked to Delhi from Jharkhand about a year ago and placed as a domestic help died under mysterious circumstances at her employer’s residence in neighbouring Ghaziabad about a fortnight ago. While the Jharkhand Police was not intimated about the incident, the victim’s body was consigned to flames following the post-mortem, which was conducted purportedly in the absence of any family member.

The matter came to light when placement agency representatives recently contacted the girl’s relatives to inform them about her death.

Subsequently Jharkhand Inspector General (Criminal Investigation Department) Anurag Gupta took up the issue and contacted non-government organisation Shakti Vahini seeking its assistance. Members of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) also took cognisance and a two-member team also initiated an enquiry.

“The 16-year-old tribal girl was brought from Lohardaga in Jharkhand to Delhi by a woman named Satya Oraoin and handed over to one Sita Ram last July. Claiming that she was 18 years of age, a domestic help agency placed her at a house in Indirapuram. The agency charged Rs.20,000 as commission for the same. The girl was to be paid a salary of Rs.3,000, but we suspect that she did not receive a single penny,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini.

On the evening of June 19, the employer called up the local police and claimed she had hanged herself.

“The police got the post-mortem done at a local hospital, after which the body was handed over to one Santosh. Preliminary enquiries have suggested that he was not the deceased’s relative. The post-mortem should not have been conducted in the absence of a family member. Although the girl was Christian, the body was consigned to flames around 10 p.m. on June 20. Police documents also mention her as a Hindu,” said Mr. Kant.

The NGO representative said despite the girl dying about 20 days ago, the Ghaziabad Police was yet to give any intimation to their Jharkhand counterparts.

“It suggests that no concrete attempt was made by the police to trace the victim’s family,” alleged Mr. Kant.

UN report calls for better coordination to check trafficking menace


NEW DELHI: The recent report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has laid down several steps to check the trafficking menace in the capital.

The recommendations talks about practices that can be put into place changes in the police force and the local administration. To begin with, it suggested that the local police co-ordinate more with the crime branch-led anti-human trafficking units (AHTU) present in the 11 districts of the city. “The cases need to be transferred from the local police to AHTU instead of getting entangled in getting of in to turf wars.”

It has also suggested that victims cannot be forced to travel to Delhi from far-flung areas to testify in Delhi courts. it is time that the victims are not forced to travel from far flung districts of Bengal and Bihar to Delhi to testify in courts.

Instead, UNODC believes, video-conferencing might be the way out.

Besides strictly following the standard operating protocols (SOP) for inter-state investigations, there is also an urgent need of a country SOP for repatriation of victims to Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, said Rishi Kant of the NGO Shakti Vahini, who co-wrote the country assessment report on human trafficking. The Saarc protocol provides a mandate for such co-operation. “The present process done at the NGO level is slow and sometimes it takes months,” he added.

UNODP also said emphasis should be laid on cornering traffickers at the source and transit points. “Panchayati raj institutions should be strengthened at the states from where these children and women come. In Delhi, institutions like RWAs and anganwadis as well as MCD schools should report missing children to police,” said a Childline co-coordinator.

“We need to look into how trafficking has changed beyond forced marriages and prostitution. Besides bonded labour, there are organ trading gangs and paedophiles active in this circuit – the third largest illegal business in India after drugs and arms sale. There is also cross-border movement with new routes like the Nepal-Katihar (Bihar)-Siliguri ( West Bengal)- Bhutan-Bangkok (Thailand) which few agencies are even aware of. Unless, training and intelligence gathering goes hand in hand, the units cannot be successful,” said a top officer from Centre for Social Research who have been helping MHA to tackle such issues.

Officials of the Union home ministry and Delhi Police, however, believe that both police and the administration need to train the lower brass to change their mentality towards such victims. “The popular notion to book the victim under Sections 12 and 20 of

the Immoral Trafficking Act instead of punishing the traffickers is just one of the problems with our cops. We have now issued advisories asking all cops to desist from using these sections,” said a senior police officer.