Policy dive: All you need to know about Trafficking of Persons Bill, 2017

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More than 300,000 children went missing in the country between 2012 and 2017.

More than 300,000 children went missing in the country between 2012 and 2017.(Shutterstock/Representative image )

The government had listed the bill aimed at protecting trafficked persons, especially young girls and women, for introduction in the Lok Sabha in the just-concluded budget session. But continued disruptions, which virtually wiped out the second part of the session, prevented the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017 from being introduced.

Here is all you need to know about the proposed law

Issue

More than 300,000 children went missing in the country between 2012 and 2017, government data shows. Around 100,000 are yet to be traced and it is feared that many of them could have been trafficked.

In 2016, for instance, 111,569 children were reported missing. Of these, 55,944 children were traced but only 8,132 trafficking cases were reported.

Many of these children are victims of modern slavery — forced into prostitution, labour or domestic work.

They are also used as drug mules and even given up for adoption illegally. Poverty and lack of opportunity also pushes a lot of young women, especially from the interior parts of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand, into prostitution.

Despite the enormity of the problem, India lacks a single comprehensive law for human trafficking. At present, trafficking is covered under half-a-dozen laws resulting in confusion and poor enforcement.

Significance

For the first time, a standalone law to address the problem has been proposed that will treat a trafficked person as a victim and not an offender. It not only prescribes stringent punishment but also addresses the crucial issue of rehabilitation of victims, many of whom are lured by traffickers on the promise of a better life and jobs.

The rehabilitation is not contingent on criminal proceedings. A special rehabilitation fund has been proposed for immediate protection of rescued persons. The punishment for traffickers varies from 10 years rigorous imprisonment to life sentence and Rs 1 lakh fine in cases of aggravated crimes.

Also in a first, a national anti-trafficking bureau run by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) has been proposed to coordinate with other countries, as many times the victims, mostly women, are smuggled out of the country.

The proposed law also makes registration of placement agencies that recruit or supply domestic helps mandatory.

Debate

The bill has been debated intensely, within the government and also among activists and organisations. When the bill was being drawn up, the ministry of external affairs said the law should address trafficking of persons within India as well as overseas.

The women and child development ministry (WCD), which is piloting the bill, had countered, saying the bill already covered the movement of trafficked person from one place to another within the country and also overseas.

Activists and non-government organisations such as Lawyers Collective have criticised the proposed law, saying it has nothing new to offer and all its provisions are already covered under existing laws. The new law will only end up “complicating the legal framework and its enforcement”.

The government says because the laws dealing with trafficking were not consolidated, the issue could not be tackled effectively. Hence, the need for a comprehensive standalone law.

Activists have also said no substantial research has gone into the bill, an argument rejected by the WCD ministry.

Lawyers’ Collective has pointed out that the provision to charge a person who encourages another person to “migrate illegally into India or Indians to some other country” with aggravated form of trafficking punishable with 10-year imprisonment could have serious implications for cross-border movement of people, including refugees.

The WCD ministry has said the argument does not hold.

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SLEUTHS OF SHASHSTRA SEEMA BAL MANNING INDO-NEPAL BORDER IN UTTAR PRADESH

Sleuths of Shashstra Seema Bal (SSB) manning Indo-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, intercepted four members of a gang engaged in human trafficking and rescued 18 Nepalese children from their custody late on Sunday night. The victims were later handed over to local Non-Government Organisation in Bahraich, who would ensure their return to their families in Nepal.

The accused were handed over to Rupaideeha police for quizzing to extract information about other children who might have been already trafficked to different parts of the country.

Giving details of the breakthrough to media persons in Bahraich on Monday, Deputy Commandant of SSB, Jai Prakash revealed that a team was patrolling the Indo-Nepal border on Sundaynight when they learnt about some children being trafficked to India from Nepal by a gang.

An alert was soon sounded along Indo-Nepal border in Rupaideeha, and the SSB team spotted four suspicious persons carrying 18 children between 12 and 14 years, entering into Indian territory. All four accused were immediately taken into custody.

The SSB official said that the accused were taken to a police station where they identified themsleves as Kamal Gautam, Surat Singh, Sant Bahadur and Ahmad Hussain. During sustained grilled, the accused confessed to trafficking the children from Nepal. They also revealed that they were taking a dozen of them to Shimla while the remaining six were to be taken to Mumbai.

 

West Bengal Records Highest Number Of Human Trafficking Cases In 2016

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A total of 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in the country with West Bengal reporting the highest number of cases (3,579)," said the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in Delhi today, releasing figures for 2016. That's a 44 per cent share of the national total.
West Bengal Records Highest Number Of Human Trafficking Cases In 2016

A report revealed more minors were involved in the sex trade in private establishments than public ones

From second place to first should be something to celebrate. But not in the case of West Bengal which has recorded the highest number of cases of human trafficking in 2016, replacing Assam which had aced the list for the previous year.

“A total of 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in the country with West Bengal reporting the highest number of cases (3,579),” said the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in Delhi today, releasing figures for 2016. That’s a 44 per cent share of the national total.

Rajasthan is in second position with 1,422 cases or 17.9 per cent cases in the country.

Sanjay Macwan, Regional Director, International Justice Mission, said, “The increasing numbers could be a reflection of greater reporting of the crime of trafficking because of the state’s efforts to curb it.”

“Trafficking victims are still not coming forward to report the crime, they are still hesitant and stigmatised,” said Vivek Chowdhury, judicial secretary, government of West Bengal, adding, “Our chief minister is very keen to stop the crime and the government is geared to it.”

The NCRB figures came on a day when a report was released in Kolkata on commercial sexual exploitation of children in and around the city and revealed more minors were involved in the sex trade in private establishments – massage parlours, lodges and residential premises — than in public ones, the brothels.

The study was conducted by NGO International Justice Mission (IJM) and West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) over the last year in Kolkata, Howrah, North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts.

4143 sex-workers were documented from 451 public and 131 from 40 private establishments.The prevalence of minors in public establishments is 0.8% while in private ones it was a whopping 18 %. The minors observed in private establishments were 15 to 17 years old, all from West Bengal.

“Another unique observation was that 80% of contacts (pimps, madams, traffickers) in private establishments were females. This is different from the stereotypical notion of male-dominated exploiters and pimps. The ages of these contacts ranged from 16 to 58 years,” the report said.

What lured the minors? 77% of them were promised a good job before they were forced into sex work. Many were surprised to arrive in Kolkata and none of them had any notion that they were being brought into this trade.

The minors were subject to violence — multiple rape, beatings and threats of murder. Three survivors had witnessed murders of other sex workers as a warning against resistance.

Indra Chakraborty, the special superintendent of police dealing with trafficking said the crime was the trip of an iceberg and linked to narcotics and illegal firearms and needed to be treated as such. “The dynamics of trafficking are changing and the dynamics of tackling it need to keep pace,” he said.

2 wanted human traffickers arrested from Kolkata

The Tribune

 The Special Cell of Police recently arrested two wanted criminals from here for running a human trafficking syndicate for more than 10 years.The criminals have been identified as Saidullah Ali Gyan and Tihar Shaikh.In 2013, a human trafficking organisation was busted by Kamla Nagar police station, in which at least eig

Image result for Saidullah Ali Gyan and Tihar Shaikh.

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ht pimps were arrested.During that investigation, it was revealed that Gyan and Shaikh were running this syndicate.Last month, the Special Cell received some information about the duo’s whereabouts in West Bengal, after which secret sources were deployed in Kolkata and nearby districts to track them.The police team finally nabbed them on November 14, when they came to Sealdah Railway Station to fix a deal.

‘Good wife’ flees trafficking trap

The Telegraph

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A mother of two, who was allegedly sold to a man in Uttar Pradesh, feigned to be a happy homemaker for one-and-a-half months, all the while waiting for the right time to escape.

The trafficking survivor from Siakhala in Hooghly managed to flee from the house of Girish Yadav whom she was forced to marry and boarded a train from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh to reach Howrah station, said an officer of the government railway police (GRP), Howrah, where the woman lodged a complaint on Thursday.

“I pretended to be a happy housewife. Initially, I had no idea about the deal between Yadav and Tapas, the person who had taken me there. Later I came to know that Tapas had sold me to Yadav for Rs 70,000,” she told the police .

The woman was returning home to Hooghly, where she lived with her husband and two children, from her workplace in Bankura one day in early October when her handbag containing Rs 2,000 was stolen in the train. On reaching Howrah station, she had approached Tapas for help.

“The man gave her money to eat something. While chatting with her, he learned that she worked in Bankura and offered her a more lucrative job near his sister’s house in Uttar Pradesh,” a GRP officer said.

The woman agreed and left for Uttar Pradesh with Tapas after two days.

“Tapas took me to Yadav’s house and asked me to marry him. I had no choice,” the woman told police.

Initially, the woman was not allowed to step out of the house as Yadav would ensure that the doors were locked at all times.

With time, the woman managed to convince Yadav that she was “a good wife” and earned his trust before seizing an opportunity to leave the house when no one was around.

A team from the Howrah GRP will visit Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. “We are working on some leads. Our team will soon visit Yadav’s house to get leads about Tapas,” said a police officer.

The woman is one of the hundreds of victims trafficked from Bengal every year.

According to the records of the National Crime Record Bureau, Bengal accounts for 20 per cent of all reported cases of trafficking in India. A total number of 5,466 cases of human trafficking were recorded in the country in 2014, 1,096 of them from Bengal.

India’s shame: modern slavery

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The 2016 Joint Global Estimates of Modern Slavery – published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Australia-based NGO Walk Free Foundation (WFF) – which estimated that there are 24.9 million people in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriages worldwide seems to have rattled the Modi government. The reason is the survey’s conclusion that India accounts for most of them – more than 18 million of the estimated 40.3 million worldwide. After sending a rebuttal to ILO challenging India’s ranking, the government is now building pressure on it to distance itself from WFF, with which it collaborated in preparing the report. The government feels that the methodology of sampling is not clear and its focus on India had “enough potential to substantively harm India’s image and kill its exports market”.

This is a churlish response. Ironically the government’s stand has not been determined by those with domain expertise but by reports from the Intelligence Bureau. The methodology paper put in the public domain by WFF itself concedes that its report is not “without gaps and limitations” but provides “the best available data and information that exists about the scale and distribution of modern slavery today.” India has inarguably abolished slavery and its modern variants such as bonded labour, human trafficking and forced marriages. But it is equally true that the enforcement of these laws leaves much to be desired. The crime of modern slavery includes the act of recruiting, harbouring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labour or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It permeates most conceivable levels of supply chains far beyond the trade for sexual exploitation. A rare rescue of 25 bonded labourers last week, for instance, revealed that they had been recruited from Madhya Pradesh, after being given loans ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000, transported to Rajasthan and forced to work as field workers without any pay for seven years.

While methods of mapping modern slavery can be disputed, its prevalence cannot be denied. There are no national figures on the number of people in slavery in India, but the Ministry of Labour and Employment recently announced plans to identify, rescue and help over 18 million bonded labourers by 2030. Given this ground reality, going into an absolute denial mode, as the Modi government seems inclined to, can be counterproductive. It is important to first understand critical aspects of the crime, and then identify the scope of policy interventions. The trade in these modern slaves transgresses state and national borders and the perpetrators are constantly reinventing themselves. It is high time policies to combat them followed suit, and went a step ahead.

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Human trafficking: Police crack down on illegal placement agencies

Millennium Post

Human trafficking: Police crack down on illegal placement agencies

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New Delhi: Unsafe migration from the states leads to human trafficking and illegal placement agencies have been playing a key role in building a strong trafficking network. Taking a note of the situation, Delhi Police has started a crackdown in illegal placement agencies which have been flourishing in the Capital. Police sources told Millennium Post that the Central Delhi Police have started the move and they have asked all the station house officers (SHO) and the concerned Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) to check illegal placement agencies flourishing in their areas and take quick action against them.

Sources further claimed that in a meeting senior police officers have told the SHO and ACP about the illegal activity. After the investigation, it will be the duty of ACP to give their senior police official a report on them. So far in Central Delhi, around seven placement agencies have been found legal. “An advisory regarding the illegal placement agencies will also be sent to the concerned police official of their jurisdiction,” said a police source.

The move came after Central Delhi Police in a major breakthrough, busted a human trafficking and forced bonded labourer racket, and arrested three accused persons. A total of 16 bonded labourers, including seven minors, were rescued during the entire operation. According to NGO Shaktivahini, several illegal placement agencies flourish in cities like Delhi where there is a high demand of live-in maids who can work even at odd hours as per the schedule of the employers. The employers are also specifically looking for younger children because ‘they are cheaper’, complain less and can be exploited. Sources claimed that the illegal placement agencies have the network which operates from the village from where the girl is trafficked.

Rishi Kant from Shaktivahini stated that the traffickers first spot the vulnerable places in villages after which they conduct a recce of the area to know which family is very poor and in search of money. “They start contacting the family and tell them that their children will have a good life in metropolitan cities and also send them money if they are sent to them. But in reality, all the money is taken by the placement agency, not even a single penny is sent to the family,” he said.