Job agencies front for exploitation

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PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

The horrifying details of the two Nepalese women raped, tortured and starved allegedly by the family of a Saudi Arabian diplomat and their visitors for over three months have come as a shock.

In August, an 18-year-old girl Mishti (name changed) was rescued from Sushant Lok Colony, Gurgaon, in a joint operation by Shakti Vahini, Childline Gurgaon and the police.

She was allegedly trafficked from her hometown in West Bengal by a person on the pretext of providing her a decent job in Delhi and later sold off to a placement agency at Taimur Nagar in New Delhi.

The agency later placed her in a household in Sushant Lok Colony as a domestic help, taking Rs. 30,000 as commission. She was promised Rs. 4,500 as monthly wage, which she never received as the agency took that away too.

The stories of the two Nepalese women and Mishti are similar to the hundreds of women so exploited. They are brought to cities like Delhi on the promise of a good life and better opportunities and sold off to illegally run placement agencies where they are exploited in every possible way. The exploitation continues even after placing them as domestic helps in urban households.

Gurgaon has emerged as a lucrative hub for such placement agencies involved in trafficking of minor girls and women from the interior areas of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

“The agents change the identity of the victims, even their name, age and address, to make them untraceable. The placement agencies, which mostly operate from Delhi, place the trafficked girls at the households for which they charge a commission of Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 60,000 from the employers,” Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini said.

Sushant Lok Colony and DLF Phase I, II, III are the main areas to which the placement agencies operating from Chakarpur, Bus Stand, Patel Nagar and Basai Road, among others, supply domestic helps. The agents take away the monthly wages of the victims leaving nothing for them.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rajesh Chechi said: “Complaints against these agencies were common in Gurgaon. But the police mostly register cheating cases because there is no law on registration of such agencies.”

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After Delhi, Haryana new traffickers’ den

BY KELLY KISLAYA PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

Ranchi: The recent arrest of two traffickers have alerted the other human flesh traders in the state who are now shifting their base from posh areas of Delhi to its suburbs, especially Haryana.

In just a week, eight persons, including a woman who is reportedly an associate of trafficking kingpin Pannalal Mahato who would traffic girls to Haryana, have been arrested in Jharkhand

Various NGOs fighting against trafficking in both Delhi and Jharkhand claim that the arrest of Mahato, Baba Bamdev and other wanted traffickers has exposed their network and laid bare their modus operandi. As a result, the traffickers are now shying away from taking the girls to the national capital and shifting to its nearby areas.

Rishi Kant of Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini said, “The arrest of Mahato has instilled fear in his associates, who are now operating from suburbs like Faridabad, Gurgaon, Karnal extending up to Jaipur.”

Khunti SP Anish Gupta said now that the associates of Mahato and Bamdev are being identified, there is a fear among traffickers. “Also, parents who were afraid to inform police about their missing children earlier, are now coming forward so we are able to take action.”

On January 22, five men from Haryana namely Vijay Pal, Karan Pal, Vijay Singh, Suresh Kumar and Ramanand Sharma, were arrested by the Koderma district police for trying to convince the parents of a seven-year-old girl to marry her to one of them.

Naushad Alam, subdivisional police officer (SDPO), Koderma said, “The five men were brought to Koderma by two brothers — Mohd Mahtab and Amjad Ali — from Koderma. Mahtab lives in Haryana and Amjad in Koderma.

The job of Amjad was to identify poor families with unmarried daughters and Mahtab used to fix their clients in Haryana.”

Mahtab along with the five men of Haryana arrived at Domchach village of Koderma and were trying to convince parents of the minor to get their girl married to one of them when the locals saw outsiders and informed the police.

“After his arrest, Mahtab revealed that in the past he had worked with Mahato and used to supply girls to him. We got to know that he will be paid Rs 80,000 for the ‘deal’ which included the expenses of wedding to be given to the girl’s parents,” said Alam.

He added, “As the sex-ratio of Haryana is very low, girls from Jharkhand are being sold there for marriage. It is becoming one of the favourite business places for the traffickers after Delhi.”

Global human trafficking racket busted in Hyderabad

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

HYDERABAD: Police, on Sunday, busted an international human trafficking racket and rescued two women from Barkas in Old City. Two persons were arrested. The two victims rescued by Chandrayangutta police, were reportedly sexually exploited by their employers from Abu Dhabi, who also made them clean toilets with bare hands and cut tons of onions as a form of soft punishment.

The arrested have been identified as Imtiyaz, 35, and his mother Fatima, while the victims were a 29-year-old housewife from Barkas and her 32-year-old cousin from Rakshapuram Colony. Both the women have two children each and the income earned by their alcoholic husbands was not sufficient to run the family, South Zone DCP V Satyanarayana said.

As the women were looking for means to support their families, Fatima approached them with a job offer in Abu Dhabi. She told them that through her son Imtiyaz, who had provided employment to scores of people from Old city in Gulf countries, she could find them lucrative jobs as domestic helps in Abu Dhabi for a paltry down payment and a monthly commission in the earnings.

“The victims who believed Fatima borrowed money at a high interest and paid her Rs 1 lakh each to go to Abu Dhabhi. Fatima told them that they will be able to send home Rs 30,000 per month,” Chandrayangutta additional inspector S Raghavendra said.

On November 11, the two women boarded a flight at RGIA and reached Abu Dhabi, where they were received by their employer. After they started working, within no time the two women realised that they had to do a lot more than performing the traditional duties of a domestic help. “The women were sexually exploited not just by their employer, but even by his guests in a brutal manner. The victims were beaten up when they resisted,” Raghavendra added.

Apart from this abuse, the employer used to make the victims clean toilets, including commodes, with bare hands. “Unable to bear the humiliation, when we finally mustered courage and protested saying that we came to Abu Dhabhi to do household work, the employer made us cut sacks of onions continuously as punishment,” one of the victims told police.

Unable to bear the torture, the 32-year-old woman fell ill and had to be hospitalised. She was then sent back to Hyderabad by the employer on December 1. After reaching the city, she approached police and narrated the horrid tale. Cops immediately swung into action and picked up Imtiyaz. Through him, they managed to convince the employer in Abu Dhabhi to send the second victim to Hyderabad on Sunday. “We have recorded the statements of both victims on Sunday and arrested the brokers under Sections 420, 384 of IPC and relevant sections of PITA,” the DCP said.

Human trafficking victims in India need greater legal support

Brick workersPUBLISHED BY THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION

LONDON, Nov 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Trafficking victims in India need more legal support to pursue cases against their perpetrators, while the country’s police must understand that bonded and forced labour are also crimes, according to a report published on Wednesday.

The report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Freedom Fund said although illegal, trafficking is widespread across India while perpetrators go unpunished and many victims are unable to obtain justice and compensation.

India is home to more than 14 million victims of human trafficking, according to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, which found India had the greatest number of slaves of 167 countries.

Nick Grono, CEO of Freedom Fund, the world’s first private donor fund dedicated to ending modern slavery, said human trafficking was a massively profitable business that needed to be “dealt with as a criminal enterprise”.

Modern slavery is worth more than $150 billion a year in profits for human traffickers worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization.

“It means using the law effectively to challenge the economic model that supports slavery,” Grono told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the TrustWomen conference.

“If you can find effective approaches which make a difference in India, then you can also make a huge impact on the overall scale of the problem globally.”

The report found that while hundreds of NGOs across India work on combating trafficking, only a few are able to pursue legal cases through to trial on behalf of victims.

This was due to funding restrictions, as money tends to be directed to non-legal victim assistance instead of legal work, longevity of cases, which can last for years, and the challenges of operating in an overstretched criminal justice system.

WHAT CONSTITUTES TRAFFICKING?

New anti-trafficking laws in India, ratified in May 2011, expanded the definition of trafficking and increased penalties, but confusion as to their interpretation and scope persists, the report said.

Several NGOs have said that while the new laws are being used for “traditional” trafficking offences, it is difficult to get police to register bonded labour cases or cases that do not involve movement of the victim.

“Historically, the Indian authorities have thought of trafficking only as sex trafficking, so it’s important to broaden the definition to include forced labour, bonded labour, and children being forced to work in mines,” Grono said.

The report also said that victims who press charges against perpetrators face harassment, violence and social stigma from their communities.

Citing the example of a 15-year-old Indian girl who was kidnapped, raped, and sold to a brothel, before escaping and filing a complaint with the help of an NGO, Grono said victims and officials “must realise the law is a powerful tool”.

“If you enforce and reinforce the law, and have cases that succeed and set precedents, then you can change the mindset across the country,” Grono said.

Among its recommendations, the report called for direct funding for NGOs to engage lawyers and pay for witness protection, expanded pro bono networks, and increased collaboration between anti-trafficking organisations.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, editing by Alisa Tang.)

Kept as sex slave in Gujarat, Jabalpur woman wriggles out of hellhole

TIMES OF INDIA

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh police arrested a couple who sold a woman in Gujarat where she was kept as a sex slave. Accused Ritesh Barman and wife Mona, are residents of Gorakhpur area in Jabalpur district. They confessed to having sold the 35-year-old woman to one ‘Popet Bhai’ in Gujarat for Rs 1.25 lakh.

Popet sold her to a Patel family in Junagarh for Rs 1.80 lakh. She was kept hostage and repeatedly raped, besides being forced to work as bonded labour. She wriggled out of their clutches and reached Jabalpur on October 23.

On October 29, when two people came to Jabalpur and tried to kidnap her, she went to the police and narrated her ordeal. The rape survivor alleged she was raped by one Bhawan Patel, Vallabh Patel and other members of the family.

Police said, she was a mother of two and was working as a domestic help in Jabalpur. The Barman couple took her to Gujarat, promising better pay. During interrogation, police found more girls had been trafficked from the state and sold in Gurajat by Popet Bhai. Teams have been dispatched to Gujarat to arrest him. A case has been lodged against five people, including Popet.

4 women from Chhattisgarh, minor girl gang-raped in UP

BY RASHMI DROLIA IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR: Cases of people migrating to other states to work as bonded labour and further getting exploited is common in Chhattisgarh. Four women and one minor hailing from Pamgarh in Janjgir-Champa district were gang-raped at Shahabad in Uttar Pradesh on January 20.

The survivors had gone to work at a brick-kiln to UP in Rampur district by a local contractor with their families.

Talking to TOI, Aarif Sheikh, superintendent of police Janjgir-Champa said: “The incident on January 20 when nearly 10-12 goons barged into the survivors’ huts after midnight and locking the men in one room, gang-raped the four women and a girl of 16-year-old taking chances.

The women said that the goons were carrying guns and knives and threatened them not to resist. They had also beaten the women and thrashed their men.”

SP said that the survivors then travelled back to Chhattisgarh and reported the matter to police. After medical examination, a zero FIR was lodged by the district police as the incident took place in other state.

“A team of five police personnel including women officers would be sent to UP for further investigation and case would be registered with UP police on basis of survivors’ version,” Sheikh said.

The contractor Rajkumar Kemath was on the run after the matter reported to police.

“It is part of Chhattisgarh’s culture that people in large migrate to other states to work mainly at brick-kilns in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Nearly 95 per cent of the more than 60 per cent migrated population works at brick-kilns and get paid few ‘paise’ on the basis of per brick made. During the months of February to August, half of the villages get isolated due to migration,” a local activist told TOI.

Rishikant of national NGO Shakti Vahini in New Delhi stressed that it’s the job of police to first check if it was a case of bonded labour and if norms of bonded labour system (abolition) Act were violated.

“If the survivors were not being paid the minimum wages set by state government under specified hours, the case gets even stronger with violation along with gang rape.”

BBC Media Action has been working since a year in Chhattisgarh’s four districts including Mahasamund, Sarguja, Durg and Korba to prevent and create awareness about bonded labour. “People who migrate to other states need to know that they shouldn’t go too far to work as schemes like MNREGA and many others are available at their own places. Secondly, if at all they move, they should inform to the Panchayat so that in case of such kind of untoward incident administration could take proper action.” Adrian Shepherd, project assistant, BBC Media Action programme said.

NCW recommends special legislation against human trafficking

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: NCW has recommended drafting of a special legislation against human trafficking which includes the UN definition of the crime, besides setting up of a central nodal authority to curb all such activities.

Taking note of increasing cases of human trafficking in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, the National Commission of Women (NCW) has sent a list of recommendations to the ministries of Home Affairs and Labour to prevent such crimes.

It has recommended drafting of a special legislation to combat human trafficking, especially that of women and children, by including its definition as per Article 3 of UN Convention 2000 and protocol with the term “abuse of position of vulnerability”, which is missing in Section 370 of the IPC.

The body also recommended extending the jurisdiction clause for any offence or contravention of human trafficking committed outside India.

NCW’s inquiry committee said the special act should also have a provision for police training and information exchange by law enforcement, immigration or other relevant authorities.

The training should focus on methods used in preventing such cases and protecting the rights of the victims along with stepping up of security and control of identity documents.

The committee also suggested setting up of a National Nodal Authority to coordinate all anti-human trafficking activities and said steps need to be taken to ensure that the issues of missing persons are linked up with trafficking.

In its recommendation to labour ministry, NCW said a national policy for domestic workers needs to formulated which ensures their rights, including maternity benefits, can be exercised comprehensively.