Anti-human trafficking bill: Centre’s move to assign understaffed NIA as nodal agency is counter-productive

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Look at the statistics. The NIA was set up in December 2008 following the Mumbai terror attack and its mandate was that the government needed a central counter-terrorism investigative body to look into serious offences related to the sovereignty, security and integrity of the country.

It presently has a strength of 650 people. Their annual budget is around Rs 100 crore per annum. Almost a decade later, they have registered and investigated around 160 cases for which decisions have been given in 27 cases.

Can such an understaffed organisation, which is already tackling the gigantic footprint of terrorism across the subcontinent, be in a position to take on and investigate cases of human trafficking? Especially given that more people are being trafficked today than ever before in history, according to the Global Report on Trafficking.

The scale of human trafficking is mind-boggling. There are 27 million adults and 13 million children who are victims of trafficking. India, with its burgeoning population, is regarded as one of the main hubs of the trafficking trade. Statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau state that over 20,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in 2016 but most NGOs believe this figure is just the tip of the iceberg.

Last month, the cabinet went ahead and cleared the draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill. The bill was introduced in Parliament earlier this month but many parliamentarians feel it should first be referred to a parliamentary standing committee for a detailed discussion.

Regarding the amendment to the National Investigation Act 2008, which will empower the NIA to investigate cases of trafficking, officials of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) point out that it will require a separate amendment by the Parliament. The NIA is presently in the process of looking into these changes and is expected to give its recommendations shortly.

According to MWCD officials, with the NIA brass complaining of a shortage of funds to undertake their present investigation, funds from the Nirbhaya Fund for the safety of women will be transferred to NIA in order to set up a cell for investigating human trafficking.

Dr Ajay Sahni, executive director of Institute for Conflict Management, has strong views on whether the NIA is in a position to investigative a problem of this magnitude. “The government is looking for shortcuts especially since prostitution and human trafficking are giving India a bad reputation. Policing is a state issue. The Centre can play a coordinating role. What the Centre needs to do is set up a central authority which can investigate cases on their own. The only other body which could have taken up cases in this manner is the CBI but they already have their hands full,” Sahni said.

He also expressed surprise at how the NIA is being sucked into this ambit especially since, during the present NDA regime, the NIA is being expected to investigate ‘love jihad’ cases in the south.

“During the last two years, the NIA has been asked to look into love jihad cases which are linked to Hindutva. If this is not an abuse of an institution then what is?” Sahni said.

IG of police (NIA) Anil Shukla, who is also wearing the hat of CVO, pointed out that it was too early to give his assessment of whether the NIA could handle this additional work. “The law is under consideration. So, it is too early for me to make a comment on it,” Shukla said.

Enakshi Ganguly, co-director of HAQs: Centre for Child Rights feels, “it is the local police who need to be trained and empowered because most of the trafficking is taking place in small towns. From the start, we have been saying that we need to have a strong protective mechanism in place to take care of the children. This mechanism can operate as Village Level Child Protection Committees and can provide a safety net for the kids.”

Ganguly suspects that linking terrorism and trafficking will only serve to dilute the seriousness of the existing situation which is loaded against women and children. “Linking the two together, which seems to be an attempt by the present government, will do injustice to both these complex and multi-layered issues,” said Ganguly

Rishi Kant, who runs the NGO Shakti Vahini, believes the MWCD move to allow NIA to look into trafficking and prostitution cases is a welcome step.

Kant has helped train the police and BSF personnel in West Bengal and Jharkhand to help combat trafficking. “Our training and inputs have really helped the state police of these states to crack down on traffickers and that reflects on the graph in these states, which are showing a downward trend. If the NIA is brought into this ambit, with proper training, we can create a crack force to track down traffickers in a big way,” Kant said.

On 16 March, 2018, Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi sought to introduce the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018 ( commonly called the Anti-Trafficking Bill). The new bill does not redefine trafficking but incorporates the existing definition under section 370 IPC.

Advocate Tripti Tandon, deputy director of Lawyers Collective, has come out strongly against this new bill which she points out has simply created a new category of ‘aggravated’ forms of trafficking, which carry a minimum sentence of ten years that may extend to life imprisonment.

Some of the aggravated forms of trafficking that have been introduced in the new Bill are: Trafficking for the purposes of forced labour, begging, marriage and childbearing. But, these are already criminalised under Section 370 of IPC. In fact, according to the National Crime Record Bureau in 2016, the police registered 10,357 cases of trafficking for forced labour, 349 cases of trafficking for forced marriage and 71 cases of trafficking for begging.

So, the new bill divides various offences into “trafficking” and “aggravated trafficking”. The former category of crimes would carry a jail term of seven to 10 years and the latter would carry a punishment of at least 10 years in jail, which can be extended to life imprisonment. Aggravated offences will include forced labour, bonded labour, forced surrogacy, use of narcotics to induce forced labour, trafficking in the garb of marriage and those that lead to a pregnancy or grave illness such as HIV/AIDS.

The bill also moots three years in jail for abetting, promoting and assisting trafficking. The law recommends a national anti-trafficking relief and rehabilitation committee to be headed by secretary WCDM. It also suggests setting up of a rehabilitation fund and prescribes a process to be followed for repatriation of trafficked persons.

Tandon asserts that to claim that these are ‘new’ forms of trafficking that are not addressed under existing laws is totally baseless. She cites the example of one so-called ‘new offence’ of administering hormones or committing trafficking by administering alcohol or drugs but adds that this has already been incorporated in section 328 of the IPC.

The existing response is patchy and scattered across different laws, which approach trafficking from varied, and sometimes, inconsistent objectives.

For example, while the new law focuses on removing and evicting sex workers from their occupation, the Bonded Labour Act protects the worker who was held in bondage from being evicted from the place where the individual has been working.

Tandon believes the need was for a comprehensive law that was expected to harmonise different approaches and integrate existing laws into one. The new Anti-Trafficking Bill does not do that. All it does is add yet another legislation to the already fragmented landscape of laws on human trafficking, further complicating the legal framework and its enforcement.

Activists point to how in the past, proposals to reform anti-trafficking laws were preceded by a great deal of research. To cite one example, in 2002-2003, the National Human Rights Commission had conducted a countrywide study of the problem and produced two voluminous reports on “Trafficking in Women and Children in India”. Findings of the NHRC report prompted the MWCD to move the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) (Amendment) Bill, 2006.

Similarly, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, which led to the enactment of Sections 370 and 370A of the IPC against trafficking and exploitation of a trafficked person respectively, were based on the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee Report, 2013, in relation to laws on sexual offences.

The Anti-Trafficking Bill has not been preceded by any substantial research or analysis. The same ad hoc approach has been applied to get the NIA to start the whole process of investigation on trafficking and prostitution.

Although this is not part of the present Anti-Trafficking Bill, there is no doubt this move has also not been thought through thoroughly.

Instead of focusing on better policing and inter-state co-ordination to stop trafficking, getting an understaffed NIA to investigate these crimes will only serve to muddy the water further.

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Hyd police rescues 26 child labourers, human trafficking accused held.

The Asian Age

Women and Child Welfare Department, Labour Department, and others along with police conducted the rescue operation.

Police are collecting the useful data from the children, who will be shifted to Saidabad children home. (Photo: ANI)

Police are collecting the useful data from the children, who will be shifted to Saidabad children home.

The Hyderabad police rescued 26 children, allegedly working as “bonded labourers” and nabbed a person, who was involved in trafficking these minors.

Speaking to ANI, Hyderabad’s District Child Protection officer, Md Imtiaz Raheem said, “We have a received a information from an NGO that some employers are bringing 200 child labours in Dhanapur express train.”

Women and Child Welfare Department, Labour Department, and others along with police conducted the rescue operation.

According to the police, most of the rescued children were from Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Police are collecting the useful data from the children, who will be shifted to Saidabad children home.

Investigation in the matter is underway.

Society needs to unite to eradicate human trafficking

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New Delhi, Mar 8 (PTI) President Ram Nath Kovind today met survivors of human trafficking on the occasion of International Womens Day and said it was a crime against humanity and the society must unite for its eradication.

People should also be encouraged to urge the survivors of human trafficking into the mainstream of society and help them overcome their problems, Kovind said after meeting the survivors at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

“We need to create an appropriate eco-system for the survivors,” he said.

“We are in that period of communication revolution in which social evils are discussed openly. People are discussing the social evils among themselves which is eventually leading to solutions of these problems,” the president said.

But some problems were still not being discussed much and human trafficking was one of them, he said.

“It is a curse not only for the country but for the whole humanity,” Kovind said, although human trafficking adversely affects both boys and girls but its impact is more frightening on minor girls.

It becomes really difficult for the girls to come out from the grasp of this social evil, he said.

The human traffickers especially target weaker sections who do not have resources to fight them, he said.

It may appear that only an individual or just a family was getting affected by human trafficking but in reality it affects everyone directly or indirectly, the president said.

There has been an increase of over 39 per cent in human trafficking in the last three years and more than four crore people have been affected by it around the globe, he said.

“But the irony is there is lack of awareness about human trafficking,” he said, adding there was a need to give attention to this social evil.

“In such circumstances, I am happy to learn that the Union Cabinet has approved the trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 in which there is a provision for a jail term of up to 10 years for a person convicted for human trafficking,” Kovind said.

Under the bill, it was provisioned to provide relief to victims within 60 days and establishing special courts at district level to handle human trafficking cases, he said.

A special fund will also be developed under this bill for running welfare programmes for the victims, Kovind said.

He exuded confidence that passing of this Bill will strengthen people and organisations working against human trafficking.

The president hailed NGO Justice and Care, which has rehabilitated more than 4,500 human trafficking victims in the last 10 years, for its fight against this social evil.

He said four survivors of human trafficking, who have pledged to fight the social evil, may also be called as “champions of change” and all should work to increase the number of such champions.

He said many schemes of the Centre like Skill India, Start-up India, Stand-up India and Mudra would be helpful in rehabilitation and providing employment to the victims.

The survivors of human trafficking will be able to survive well only when an appropriate eco-sytem was developed for them, the president added.

यहां हर दूसरे दिन एक बच्चा हो रहा तस्करी का शिकार, दिल्ली-मुंबई में बिक रहा बचपन

Dainik Jagran Hindi News

यहां हर दूसरे दिन एक बच्चा हो रहा तस्करी का शिकार, दिल्ली-मुंबई में बिक रहा बचपन

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चाईबासा, [मोहम्मद तकी]। झारखंड का पश्चिम सिंहभूम जिला मानव तस्करी का केंद्र बन चुका है। इस जिले से हर माह 10 से 20 बच्चों की तस्करी हो रही है। किसी माह यह आंकड़ा 30 के भी पार पहुंच जाता है। इसकी खास वजह यहां व्‍याप्‍त गरीबी और अशिक्षा है। पैसों के लोभ में लोग अपने बच्चों को तस्करों के हाथों बेच देते हैं। इसके बदले तस्कर उन्हें मामूली रकम ही देते हैं।

80 फीसद मामलों में बच्चों को तस्करों के हाथ में देने वाले परिवार के जानकार ही होते हैं, जो परिवार के मुखिया को लालच देकर नाबालिग को काम के लिए दिल्ली, मुंबई, चेन्नई समेत अन्य बड़े शहरों में भेजते हैं। वहां से उनका रैकेट इस कार्य को करता है। जरूरत की जगहों पर बच्चों का दाम तय कर उन्हें काम पर लगाया जाता है। एक साल के अंदर मानव तस्करी के 205 मामले बाल संरक्षण विभाग के पास आए हैं। इस प्रकार देखा जाए तो हर माह 17 से भी अधिक बच्चे मानव तस्करी के शिकार हो रहे हैं। यानी हर दो दिन में एक मासूम जिंदगी को दल-दल में धकेल दिया जाता है।

पश्चिम सिंहभूम जिले के चक्रधरपुर, गोईलकेरा, सोनुवा, मनोहरपुर, गुदड़ी व आनंदपुर प्रखंड में सबसे ज्यादा मानव तस्करी के मामले सामने आ रहे हैं। इसकी एक वजह इन्हीं प्रखंडों के आसपास से गुजरने वाली मुख्य रेल लाइन भी है। मुंबई, दिल्ली समेत देशभर के लिए इसी मार्ग से लंबी दूरी की ट्रेनें गुजरती हैं। इससे तस्कर गरीब बच्चों को आसानी से दूसरी जगहों पर लेकर चले जाते हैं।

बाल संरक्षण विभाग दिखा रहा सही राह

साल 2017 में छुड़ाकर लाए गए 200 से अधिक बच्चों में जिला बाल संरक्षण विभाग की ओर से विशेष आवासीय बालक विद्यालय मनोहरपुर में 15 बालकों का नामांकन कराया गया है। जबकि 10 बच्चों का नामांकन इसी मार्च के महीने में कराया जाना है। इसी तरह जिले के विशेष आवासीय बालिका विद्यालय में 9 बच्चियों के नामांकन के लिए सूची भेजी गई है। दो बच्चियों को कस्तूरबा आवासीय विद्यालय और दो बच्चियों का एकलव्य विद्यालय में नामांकन कराने की तैयारी चल रही है। इस माह के अंत तक इन मासूमों का नामांकन हो जाएगा।

कागज पर चल रहा काम

झारखंड में 14 जुलाई 2011 को चार थानों को एंटी ह्यूमन ट्रैफिकिंग यूनिट के रूप में अधिसूचित किया गया था। इनमें गुमला, सिमडेगा, दुमका और खूंटी जिले के नगर थाने शामिल थे। बाद में रांची, पश्चिम सिंहभूम, लोहरदगा और पलामू को भी इसमें शामिल कर लिया गया। पश्चिम सिंहभूम जिले की स्थिति यह है कि ह्यूमन ट्रैफिकिंग यूनिट बस नाम के लिए काम कर रही है। यहां पीड़ित बच्‍चों का न तो ठीक तरह से डाटा उपलब्‍ध है और न ही मानव तस्‍करों की कोई सूची या रिकॉर्ड। थाने का चक्‍कर न लगाना पड़ जाए, यह सोचकर कई बार मानव तस्‍करी के शिकार परिवार मामला तक दर्ज नहीं कराते हैं।

एंटी ह्यूमन ट्रैफिकिंग यूनिट को करना है यह काम

इस यूनिट का गठन बच्चों, युवतियों और महिलाओं की तस्‍करी रोकने के लिए किया गया था। यूनिट को जिले में मानव तस्करों का डाटाबेस तैयार करना था। इसे स्‍वतंत्र इकाई घोषित किया गया था। एक यूनिट में 12 पुलिस अधिकारी के पद सृजित किए गए थे। वाहन और कैमरे आदि देने की बात कही गई थी। लेकिन पश्चिम सिंहभूम जिले में यह पूरी तरह जमीन पर नहीं उतर पाया है।

चाईबासा के उपायुक्त अरवा राजकमल कहते हैं, मानव तस्करी की जानकारी होने के बाद तत्काल पुलिस कार्रवाई करती है। इसके लिए लोगों को जागरुक करने का कार्य भी किया जा रहा है। किसी प्रकार की कोई घटना से जुड़ी जानकारी हो तो तुरंत 100 नंबर पर कॉल कर जानकारी दे सकते हैं। इसके अलावा इसे रोकने के लिए भी विशेष तैयारी जिला प्रशासन की ओर से की जा रही है।

मानव तस्‍करी से झारखंड के ये जिले हैं प्रभावित

पश्चिम सिंहभूम, खूंटी, गुमला, रांची, गढ़वा, साहेबगंज, सिमडेगा, गोड्डा, लातेहार और लोहरदगा। इन जिलों से आए दिन तस्‍कर गरीब युवतियों और बच्‍चों को रोजगार दिलाने के नाम पर ले जाते हैं।

मानव तस्करी से जुड़ी प्रमुख बातें

– पश्चिम सिंहभूम जिले में वर्ष 2014 से 2016 के बीच मानव तस्करी के कुल 309 मामले सामने आए।

पश्चिम सिंहभूम का मानव तस्करी के मामले में राज्य में दूसरा स्थान है।

– सुप्रीम कोर्ट के आदेशानुसार भूले हुए बच्चे हों अथवा मानव तस्करी के शिकार बच्चे, सभी की प्राथमिकी मानव तस्करी एक्ट के तहत दर्ज करनी है।

– पश्चिम सिंहभूम में मानव तस्करी रोकने के लिए एक इकाई भी गठित की गई है। यहां मामले दर्ज होते हैं।

Meet the Sex Workers Leading the Fight Against Human Trafficking and Child Marriage

The Wire

Rescuing young girls with the help of legal authorities has helped them change people’s attitudes and develop a sense of self-worth.
In 2017, these women helped arrest over 200 traffickers in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. Representative image. Credit: Reuters

In 2017, these women helped arrest over 200 traffickers in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. Representative image. Credit: Reuters

Sex workers in the districts of Anantapur, Kadiri, East Godavari and Belagavi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are often married off at a young age or trafficked to larger cities.

Statistics released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have put Andhra Pradesh at second, after West Bengal, in terms of the prevalence of human trafficking. A large number of minor girls are being trafficked and UNODC states that in January alone, 939 minor girls were reported missing.

Many of the women who have been victims of trafficking or child marriage are now working closely with legal authorities and the police to help put an end to the two.

Their success in this endeavour can be gauged from the fact that in 2017, they helped arrest over 200 traffickers in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. Many of these traffickers were trafficking young girls of about ten or 12. In order to ensure these rescued girls do not come to harm, the sex workers helped get them admitted into residential Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalayas. These are free schools being run by the state government in every mandal of Andhra Pradesh.

How has this incredible turnaround taken place? How have these women picked up the grit to challenge those very people who had been at the forefront of exploiting them for years on end?

These women best describe their journey.

Rajeshwari

Take the case of Rajeshwari from Kadiri in Andhra Pradesh, who has been engaged in sex work for the last two decades. A three-day workshop in 2015 by the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) was a turning point in her life. There she received training on different laws including Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO), the Nirbhaya Act and the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act by a retired judge and his team of lawyers. She was also taught how to cope with sexual violence and sexual harassment.

These women also received training on becoming paralegal volunteers. The minimum requirement is clearing the matriculation examination (class ten). Rajeshwari was a class four drop out. An exception was made for her and the other sex workers who had participated in this workshop.

“We were given a crash course on different laws including POSCO, Nirbhaya law and the JJ Act. We were also taught how to deal with cases of domestic violence and marital discord and in cases of trafficking and child marriage, we had to inform the district authorities by using the child helpline. In fact, we are paid Rs 250 for every case that we report,” said Rajeshwari.

The workshop gave her enough confidence to start working closely with the police and district authorities. “Being a sex worker, I know the situation on the ground. When a young girl was sold by a trafficker in Bhiwandi in the Thane district of Maharashtra, the local police and some NGOs sought my help,” said Rajeshwari with a sense of pride.

“I was actually taken all the way to Bhiwandi to help bring the girl back and restore her to her parents who live in Kadiri. The local agents here threatened to kill me. When they see me, they abuse me to my face. But now that I am a member of Jan Jagarata (JJ), a local community-based organsiation (CBO), I enjoy a great deal of support,” she said.

She cites the example of another young girl who was trafficked to Mumbai for a sum of Rs 2.5 lakh. “The madam put her to work and had 20 men arriving to have sex with her every day. We got the girl rescued and put her into a school in Hyderabad. The trafficker who took the girl to Mumbai has been arrested and is housed in the jail in Anantapur while another fellow is presently in the Kadapa jail,” said Rajeshwari.

Rajeshwari’s own life bears a startling similarity with the girls she helps rescue. Giving broad details of her life, Rajeshwari said: “When I was in my early 20s, I was taken to Dubai under the pretext of doing domestic work. After three years of sexual exploitation, I sought police protection. The police did not help me. Rather, they too exploited me and shamelessly used me for two years. It was only with the help of a local agent that I was able to return to India.”

Mahalaxmi

Mahalaxmi from Gooty village, who is presently the treasurer for the CBO Ushodaya being run in the neighbouring city of Kalyandurg, cites how a minor girl was kidnapped by three local boys in her area.

After raping her for three days, these boys abandoned her outside her parents’ home in the dead of night. The parents had four marriageable daughters and felt that by taking their eldest child back, they would suffer disrepute in their village and thus were reluctant to take her back.

They had the good sense to seek the help of Mahalaxmi, who insisted they go to the police station and file a complaint against the three boys.

The police tried to misguide the parents and refused to lodge an FIR. Mahalaxmi warned them that in case they did not file an FIR, she would seek the help of the district child protection officer since the girl was only 14, a minor.

When the local cop failed to heed her warning, Mahalaxmi rang up the sub-inspector, warning him that if action was not taken, she would take the matter up with the State Child Rights Commission.

Mahalaxmi said: “The cop got scared and an FIR was registered. The girl was taken for examination to the local government hospital where the rape was confirmed and all three boys have been arrested and jailed.”

Fearing for the girl’s life once the boys were released on bail, the rape victim has been sent to Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalaya in Hyderabad where she is presently continuing her studies.

Usha

Usha, the manager of Ushodaya, who had been engaged in sex work for over a decade, also admits that participating in the legal workshop in Hyderabad provided a new direction to her life.

“It helped me develop a sense of confidence. I also understood for the first time that if I am subject to violence, I can turn to the police and the district machinery for help. Nowadays, we meet the police and the district legal authorities on a regular basis. When the district judge goes to visit a jail, he takes a group of us paralegal volunteers along. This has led the local community to change their attitude towards us. More importantly, we have developed a sense of self-worth,” added Usha.

Recently, Usha was informed of how a mother, a former devadasi, had pulled her two daughters out of the local school because she wanted them to be initiated into the same trade.

“A group of us complained to the police. The district child protection unit intervened and the girls have been put into the SOS school in Tirupati to grow up in a more protected and nurturing environment,” said Usha.

How Jan Jagarata was formed

In 2007, the sex workers in Kadiri felt they needed to start their own NGO and that is how JJ came about. Initially, it provided basic HIV/AIDS services to these women. But they soon realised HIV/AIDS was just one of the problems they were facing. Equally pressing were issues of social stigma, discrimination and problems of violence by the hands of clients and partners.

In 2011, after having lengthy interactions with several local NGOs including REDS and CFAR, they picked up enough confidence to get JJ registered.

“Now we have hired two rooms in Kadiri where we have set up an office. We meet every week with a special focus on health. We also hold annual general body meetings to elect a president, secretary and a seven-member board of directors,” said Rama Devi, an office bearer.

But registering their organisation has resulted in other spin off. Members of their organisations are now in a position to access government loans to start their own business. And most importantly, they do not have to offer any collateral for these loans. Their membership in JJ is enough.

Ease in getting loans

Another important initiative these women have taken is to undertake an informal survey of the number of sex workers in and around their district. This helps them provide assistance to someone who is needy and also to keep an eye on anti-social elements.

Adi Narayan amma took a loan of Rs 10,000 two years ago and bought ten sheep with that money. “These have now multiplied to 20. I have succeeded in repaying my first loan. I hope to get a second loan so I can expand my business,” she said.

Another JJ member, Sailaji, received a small amount of money to start a small department store selling groceries and cigarettes from which she earns Rs 7,000 a month.

“My position is now much more secure and I do not have to do sex work anymore,” said Sailaja.

Renuka amma was deserted by her husband at a young age. “I had to bring up my daughter on my own. When my daughter was 16-years-old, she ran away with a man. After having three daughters, she came to my house, left her girls with me and disappeared. I subsequently learnt she was abandoned by her husband. I gave one daughter each to my two sisters and brought up one girl myself. I approached the Single Windows and they helped get my granddaughter admitted to Prajwala Home. Ten years later, my daughter returned because her partner deserted her.”

“Meanwhile, I took a loan of Rs 30,000 to start a business but have used the money on spinal surgery. I take solace in the fact that at least my granddaughter has settled well in her school and is a good student,” she added.

Muni amma was also married off at a young age and is the mother of three children. She worked for several years as a daily labourer but did not earn enough, so she took to sex work to earn additional money.

“Leaving my three children with my in-laws, I was taken to Mumbai to do sex work but the conditions there were miserable. I was not given proper food to eat, even the water to drink was filthy. I got a truck driver to bring me back to Kadiri,” she recalled.

Muni amma also received a loan of Rs 15,000 but has spent the money on her treatment. While she has succeeded in getting two of her children educated, her youngest daughter is studying in college. “I am working hard to stop child marriages in my district and in the last two months have succeeded in stopping six such marriages,” she said.

Legal empowerment

Padmaja been working as lawyer in the district court in Anantapur for the last nine years. She is one of the lawyers appointed by the state government to teach these sex workers paralegal work.

“Our attempt has been to take these women out of this profession and you can do this only if you empower them legally. We also try and ensure they get support of the district legal authority. Now that they are empowered, we have sought their help in fighting cases of trafficking,” said Padmaja.

Rammohan Reddy is another senior lawyer working in Kadiri who is in the forefront of helping these women. “These women tell us we want our children to study and not lead the kind of lives we have led. The state government has opened 25 schools for girls of sex workers and we assist them in getting their girls admitted there. Of course this has created a situation where traffickers are very angry and these women are constantly being threatened by them,” said Reddy.

These women are targeting other social evils as well. Adolescent girls are forced into marriage (often at the instigation of their mothers) to their maternal uncles. Renuka amma cited her own example. She is a widow with two daughters. One morning, her maternal cousin arrived at her place and forcibly wanted to take her 14-year-old daughter who is a class VII  student to get her married to his son. If the mother dared refuse, he warned he would kidnap the girl.

She phoned the Ushodaya team who immediately took her daughter under their protection. They informed the child services and the district child protection officer. The girl has been transferred to a residential school while the cousin was let off with a warning from the police.

Another Ushodaya member, Lalita amma, was married off to her maternal uncle when she was only 13. She is now assisting a campaign launched by several NGOs to stop marriages between blood relatives.

Akhila Sivdas, executive director of CFAR, started the Single Window initiative in 2013 to provide basic services to these women. Although the initiative has now come to an end, CFAR continues to provide guidance to these women. Sivdas said, “They are playing an important part in community policing. They understand the social dimensions of these issues and also provide community support. In many ways, these women are operating like mohalla committees.”

More and more parents are turning to them for support. Recently, in Kotter village in Anantapur district, a boy cheated on a girl and she became pregnant and has delivered a baby boy. The boy’s parents have agreed to have their son undergo a DNA test. If child is fathered by their son, they will get the couple to tie the knot. This entire process is being supervised by the court.

The struggle continues.

RPF Curbing Human Trafficking from NorthEast

The Morung Express

Image result for RPF curbing human trafficking from northeast

Agartala, March 7 (IANS) To check the widespread increase in human trafficking from northeast India, the railway authorities have taken steps to curb the menace with around 500 children being rescued by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and 14 traffickers arrested in 2017, an official said on Wednesday.

“In all, 498 children have been rescued by RPF and 14 traffickers were arrested last year. During 2016 and 2015, the RPF has been able to rescue 437 and 206 children respectively,” Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) Chief Public Relations Officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma said.

“In the face of the widespread increase in human trafficking from northeast India, the NFR and RPF have continued an all-out offensive for combating the menace in railway stations and railway premises. Trains are frequently used for ferrying trafficked children,” Sharma said.

“The NFR and RPF personnel have been able to apprehend a large number of offenders by putting in place foolproof security arrangements in stations,” he said.

Sharma also said that all the five NFR divisions have pressed mobile security squads into service to watch for any suspicious movement in trains and station premises.

The rescued children were handed over to their guardians or to NGOs for proper care and rehabilitation.

The NFR serves seven districts in West Bengal and five districts in north Bihar, besides seven northeastern states, excluding Sikkim.

The CPRO said that the RPF of NFR has also been doing commendable work in detection and recovery of contraband goods.

“The RPF has recovered smuggled goods worth of Rs 5.1 crore in 160 cases last year and arrested 68 offenders. This is much higher than the figures in 2016 where goods worth Rs.3.6 crore were recovered and 134 cases registered.

“This recovery of contraband goods has been possible due to frequent raids, ambush and checks conducted by RPF in sensitive areas within the scope of implementation of integrated security system programmes on the major stations of NFR. CCTV cameras have been installed and control rooms have been set up for real-time monitoring of stations and railway premises,” Sharma added.