Woman gets 10 years in jail for trafficking, forcing girl into prostitution

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NEW DELHI: Expressing serious concern over the rising “menace” of human trafficking in the country, a trial court has urged Delhi Police to make “sincere efforts” to crack its whip on perpetrators of this trade.

The court made these observations while sentencing a woman to jail for 10 years for forcing a girl into prostitution after she was trafficked to the capital from a village in West Bengal. “The menace of human trafficking is on the rise and needs to be curbed. It requires sincere efforts by the police, failing which many other victims of human trafficking are likely to meet the same fate, as the victim in the present case,” said additional sessions judge Kaveri Baweja while convicting Padma under sections of Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act and wrongfully confining or keeping an abducted person.

While holding Padma guilty, the court pulled up the police for failing to arrest two men, who allegedly brought the victim from her native village in West Bengal to the capital in 2010. “It may also be pertinent to mention that as per the chargesheet, no efforts appear to have been made by the investigating agency to apprehend the two boys, who allegedly brought the victim to Delhi from her native village in West Bengal,” the court said.

While directing that a copy of the order be sent to the DCP, the court directed him to “look into the matter and ensure that officials functioning under him make all possible endeavours to apprehend offenders who get away by committing this heinous crime of human trafficking”. It also sought a compliance report on the same from the police.

The girl was rescued from a brothel on GB Road after a raid on August 6, 2010. The raid was conducted after the victim’s mother lodged a case. NGO Shakti Vahini was also called to the spot and the complaint of the victim was recorded.

Even as the convict sought leniency, the court trashed her plea saying, “the convict, in total disregard for the dignity of the victim, subjected her to forceful sexual intercourse and compelled her to do the work of prostitution against her will…The allegations do not, in my opinion, call for any kind of leniency towards her,” the judge said.

Bangladeshi woman escapes pimp’s clutches



A young Bangladeshi woman, who was trafficked to the Capital and sold off to a pimp for Rs.40,000 for commercial sexual abuse, managed to escape from his clutches at Rohtak in Haryana on Friday.

The 21-year-old woman, who had strained relations with her husband, was brought to West Bengal about three months ago by one Manas Das and his wife, who is also a Bangladeshi national. The couple, who had promised to get her placed as a domestic help, kept her at their residence in Asansol for two months.

Claiming that they had arranged a job for her, the suspects recently took her to Jaipur from where they came to the Capital and stayed a Paharganj hotel. “A pimp from Haryana met the couple and paid Rs.40,000 for the woman. She was then taken to Rohtak,” said Rishi Kant of non-government organisation Shakti Vahini.

When the trafficker attempted to force her into prostitution, she offered resistance. He then allegedly beat her up. A couple of days ago, he sent her to a client along with another girl who on getting an opportunity dialled 100 seeking police assistance.

While no policemen turned up, the hotel staffers were apparently tipped off that the police would soon conduct a raid. The victim purportedly revealed that the hotel employees raised an alarm, asking people to vacate the place immediately. They then asked her and the other girl to wait for a vehicle which would take them back to the pimp.

“In the melee, she along with the other girl managed to escape and reached Delhi on Saturday morning. They contacted the West Bengal Police at whose instance the two met us. We took the Bangladeshi woman to the Delhi Police Crime Branch, which has directed us to meet the Bangladesh High Commission officials to facilitate her travel back home,” said Mr. Kant.

Child trafficking rampant in West Bengal


The State tops the list in cases of ‘selling girls for prostitution’

 A 13-year-old girl trafficked from Kakdwip area in the State’s South 24 Parganas district was allegedly raped by a 51-year-old man for over a month before she was rescued by a team of police and activists of non-government organisations earlier this week.

“She is so young and innocent that she does not know what the man did to her. She told me that the person who brought her to city had threatened to kill her family members and friends if she refused to oblige,” Pallavi Ghosh, research officer of Shakti Vahini, a NGO that helped in the rescue told The Hindu over phone from New Delhi.

Though the rescue of young girls from alleged traffickers who sell them in various areas of north India is not unusual, the fact that a 13-year-old, a student of Class VI, has been trafficked and sexually harassed is not frequent, Ms. Ghosh said.

The girl, who was rescued from a Jahangirpuri area of Delhi, believes that she was under influence of some black magic which the man had performed on her. The girl’s father, a footwear vendor, has been granted her custody.

Commenting on the trafficking of children from West Bengal, Rishi Kant, activist with Shakti Vahini, said at least 125 children from the State, most of them girls, have been rescued by the NGO in joint operations with the police since April 2012.

“About 80 per cent of the children rescued are girls being trafficked and sold in various parts of Delhi and adjoining States. We have also come across girls being trafficked for marriages in States such as Haryana and Rajasthan,” Mr. Kant said.

Representatives of NGOs admit that majority of cases of trafficking of girls occur from West Bengal — the vulnerable areas being districts such as Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Malda in the north along with North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas in the south of the State.

The latest statistics from National Crime Records Bureau (NRCB) released this year confirms this observation.

While 809 cases of ‘Procuration of Minor Girls’ charged under section 366 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were reported from the country, about 45.6 per cent cases were registered in West Bengal alone. Similarly, the State recorded the highest number of about 51.9 per cent of cases of ‘selling girls for prostitution’ under article 372 of the IPC.

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Raped, then sold off as a bride in a distant land



Hundreds of girls and women have been sold-off by human traffickers as brides in Haryana villages since the past several years

In the tea gardens of Banarhat, a remote village bordering Bhutan in West Bengal, her father once worked as a labourer. After his death, the family survived for years on the meagre income of her mute brother, not enough to even pay for the proper treatment of her recurrent bouts of a mysterious stomach-aches. And then one day, yet another tragedy struck in the garb of a well-wisher. A human trafficker took Paro (name changed) to faraway Haryana, raped her and then sold her off as a bride to a middle-aged widower.

The family knew Mustafa Ali as the husband of the girl who once lived in their neighbourhood.

“We had taken Paro to the village doctors, but they could not cure her. This had us worried and in such a state of haplessness, Mustafa approached giving us a hope. He stayed with us for a night. Mustafa told us that not only Paro, but her mute brother could also be cured by the blessings of one Baba Rampal Maharaj, claiming that the godman had his ashram in Haryana,” said Paro’s elder sister. She had no inkling of Mustafa’s visit as she lives in another village with her husband.

Convinced that he was a God-sent saviour, Paro’s mother readily agreed to accompany Mustafa to Haryana along with the girl and her two sons. They boarded a train on July 3.

“We left for Delhi, from where we were taken to Kheri Man Singh village in Karnal. Mustafa took us to his house, where he lives with his two wives. We were shocked to discover that the villagers there knew him as Rajender Pal,” said a frail Paro, a 24-year-old woman who had virtually starved for the past few weeks.

Narrating her tale of horror, Paro recounted: “Rajender disclosed that he wanted to marry me off. When my mother and brothers objected, he and his men beat them up. He also attempted to sexually assault my mother. Following this, she and one of my brothers were forced to board a train back to our village. Rajender raped me and kept me in confinement for over 20 days. He would lock me inside a room whenever he went out.”

Paro refused to eat in protest and partly because she did not get her staple food — rice. While she languished at Rajender’s house, about four prospective grooms paid visits to check on her.

“The deal was finally struck with one Darshan Kumar for Rs.70,000. They staged a ceremony, where my brother was forced to pose for a photograph showing that the marriage had his approval,” said Paro. She was sent with Darshan, while her brother was sent packing home after his job was over.

“Darshan, a widower, sexually assaulted me and ill-treated me all the time. His mother also abused me. I was constantly looking for an opportunity to escape. Then and one day, in the early hours, I managed to slip out while the others were sleeping. I spent the entire day in the nearby sugarcane fields, but the villagers caught me the next morning and took me back to Darshan. They forced me to put my fingerprints on a blank paper,” said Paro.

Snapshot 2 (18-09-2013 19-59)A few days after Paro’s brother reached his village, the family learnt that Rajender had once again visited the village looking for some more girls. “We had got a case registered at the Banarhat police station on July 27. The police soon arrested him,” said Paro’s sister. The West Bengal Police then contacted non-government organisation Shakti Vahini seeking assistance for the victim’s rescue.

The NGO contacted the Karnal Superintendent of Police, on whose orders a team was sent to Darshan’s residence along with the organisation representatives on Monday, over two months after she was kidnapped. A video footage capturing the operation showed Paro screaming, bursting into tears and hugging her sister as soon as she sees her. Holding each other tightly, the sisters sobbed as Paro shared the agony and torture she had been subjected to.

Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini said: “Darshan was not home when the team reached there. The villagers confronted the NGO members, asserting that she had been bought for Rs.70,000. We finally managed to take the victim to the area police station, where she immediately went to the bathroom and sat under a tap till the sindoor was washed away completely.”

According to Mr. Kant, hundreds of girls and women like Paro are sold-off by human traffickers as brides in Haryana villages since the past several years.

“A skewed sex ratio [877 females per 1,000 males] in the State is the prime reason behind the mushrooming of such organised syndicates. As reported in the latest report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], a field study by Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan in 92 Haryana villages covering 10,000 households revealed that over 9,000 married women had been bought from other States. They address the purchased brides as Paro [from outside the State],” said Mr. Kant. Age, beauty and virginity are the yardsticks that determine their price.

Studies by various organisations have revealed that girls from poverty-stricken villages in Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha and even from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, are trafficked to Haryana and Punjab via Delhi for forced marriages.

“Trafficking for forced marriages has also been reported from Kutch in Gujarat. Hundreds of Bengali-speaking Muslim women are trafficked from West Bengal and Bangladesh to Kutch, where they are sold off as brides,” stated the UNODC report, observing that from Haryana, they are also sent to the bordering areas of Rajasthan.

Punish employers for ill-treating domestic helps: MHA to police



Ill-treating a domestic help will amount to trafficking, the home ministry’s latest directions to the police say. If the employer doesn’t give food or not allow the help to venture outside home, the action will be treat on a par with trafficking even if the employee is an adult.

“In a fresh circular, the ministry of home affairs has issued standard operating procedures to be followed by various agencies, including police, citing a Supreme Court order. So, if a person employs a child then he may not only face prosecution for provisions against child labour but also be punished for ill-treating the kid. Ill-treatment also includes denying minimum wages. This will tighten the strings on placement agencies, who gobble up at least half of the salary paid to domestic helps,” said Rishi Kant, executive director of Shakti Vahini, an NGO.

According to MHA’s guidelines, it is police’s duty to rescue a trafficked child and book the employer for not paying minimum wages, among other offences. The ministry has also asked the police to treat trafficking as an organised crime.

In 2012, 3,734 children employed as labourers were rescued from Delhi of which 2,357 were of below 14 years of age. “It is a growing problem and the police must try to curb trafficking by targeting the economics of crime syndicates. For instance, police must initiate the process of cancelling the licence of factory from where the child is rescued. Such steps can help prevent trafficking,” Rishi Kant added.

The police have also been asked to keep the rescued child away from the employers.

Court raps cops for shielding brothel owners


NEW DELHI: A trial court has pulled up Delhi Police for “shielding” and not tracing owners of brothels in G B Road and directed the commissioner to ensure action against those involved in human trafficking and prostitution racket.

The court’s direction came following the acquittal of a woman of charges of forcing girls into prostitution and abetting rape.

“A bare perusal of chargesheet of the present case and all other cases of similar nature of police station Kamla Market clearly show the obvious inaction (against brothels) on the part of the investigation agency (in order) to shield the real culprits, who may in fact be running the entire racket of human trafficking and prostitution in the area, within their knowledge,” additional sessions judge Kaveri Baweja said.

“I deem it necessary to direct that a copy of this judgment be sent to the commissioner of police, who shall ensure that needful is done in chargesheets in future so that offence of human trafficking and prostitution can be curbed by roping in the perpetrators,” Baweja said.

The court acquitted Pushpa, resident of G B Road, as the victim was not traceable and other prosecution witness failed to support its case.