DCW busts trafficking racket, rescues 3 minors

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Girls rescued from Janakpuri, Pitampura; boy from Hisar

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on Sunday claimed to have busted a trafficking racket in east Delhi. Three minors, including a boy, were rescued.

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Giving details, the DCW said its 181 helpline received a call from parents who had come from Jharkhand in search of their children. These children have been missing for the past three years.

“Accompanying the parents was a girl who was allegedly trafficked along with the other children but had managed to escape. She claimed she was receiving calls from an alleged female trafficker. The accused was trying to lure her to return to Delhi,” the Commission said in a statement.

Since the traffickers ran a placement agency in east Delhi, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal said a trap was laid and the accused was called to Akshardham metro station. The panel said the trafficker arrived with an accomplice to meet the girl and the duo was caught with help from the local police.

During interrogation, the accused revealed details of two minor girls. They were rescued from Janakpuri and Pitampura. A minor boy was rescued from Hisar, Haryana, by the DCW’s mobile helpline team and the Delhi Police.

‘Unregulated’

She said, “It is shocking that minors are not only trafficked but also employed by educated and affluent families. They are severely abused and not paid. Unregulated placement agencies are running unabated here and many are organised rackets for human trafficking.” She called for strict regulation of placement agencies.

It is shocking that minors are not only trafficked but also employed by educated and affluent families. They are severely abused and not paid…

Swati Maliwal

DCW chairperson

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Benaami’s fight against human trafficking and unsafe migration gives Chanho a new identity

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KHUNTI (JHARKHAND):

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Khunti

With her daughter Roshni tied on her back, “benaami” (nameless) sat in the darkness of her mud and straw hut. The floor freshly swept with cow-dung and mud was still soft and cool. The cattle outside were restless as the rain threatened to drench the wood neatly piled to prepare the next meal. Inside the hut this 28-year-old mother held out a colourful toy to keep Roshni busy. Benaami appeared like any other tribal woman trying to live day to day at the mercy of nature and news of work possibilities in cities they have never heard of but seek out in the hope of surviving beyond the seasonal crop. Slowly she opened up and in the conversation that followed it turned out that in her name, Benaami carries the story of a birth and life of a migrant family forced to leave the rural village in the forest to embrace a life as daily wagers in unsafe work conditions in urban cities.

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Benaami grew up to call herself Anjali with her daughter Roshni on the move to build awareness.Village Chanho in Karra Block survives on barter system for many things.

Born in a brick kiln in Nadia district of West Bengal where her parents toiled hard as migrant daily wagers, she was deprived of the traditional tribal ceremony of giving a newborn a name nine days after birth. Days, months and years passed by as she grew without a formal name. She moved between the village and the brick kiln with her parents from season to season supplementing their income by working as a child labour. She changed schools but never gave up on education. A bright student, Benaami grew to give herself a name she liked and today she identifies herself as Anjali Kachhap even though many still refer to her as Benaami in her village as going by tribal tradition she never got a name. She comes from the Oraon tribe.

A resident of Chanho village of Karra block, Anjali’s village is tucked deep in the interiors and can be reached only through muddy paths amidst fields and forest. Just as wild elephants are a serious cause of concern in Chanho, this village like most others in Khunti district live under the dark shadow of maoist groups.

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Women and young girls gather to discuss concerns related to unsafe migration at a Sakhi Saheli club meeting at a village.

Cautious of the challenges her environment poses, Anjali has chosen to rise above her difficulties to build an identity. While she hopped from school to school with her migrant parents, her energy caught the attention of social activists from voluntary organization Association for Social and Human Awareness (ASHA) who put her in a residential school for children in need of care and protection. Anjali surprised everyone when she not only chose to go for higher studies but picked up geography as her specialisation at a private college in Torpa and then joined ASHA to fight against unsafe migration and human trafficking. “I studied Geography because I wanted to know about the world and the places that make it what it is,” Anjali says with confidence. She tells that the bridge that connects her village to Torpa was not there when she was studying in college and she use to swim across from her village, change her clothes and attend class. Her parents still work go to the brick kiln for work when the crop season is over.

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Kachhap’s daughter is missing, authorities have failed to help so now he turns to Benaami to help find her.

A graduate married to a contractor from a nearby village, Anjali now leads the Sakhi Saheli club initiative in villages of Karra block. She travels across villages to spread the message to “stop trafficking” and promote “safe migration”. Mobile phones are neither common nor easy to connect to here so women and young girls spread the word about a meeting of the Sakhi Saheli Club by going around the village and schedule the sessions over the weekend. It is here that they share details of those planning to migrate, cases of missing and other concerns. Three years back, in a survey steered by Anjali across 20 villages the community identified 85 girls who had migrated for work to Raigarh, Raipur, Bilaspur, Nagpur and Surat. It turned out that some of the girls who went to Surat were sexually abused and had become pregnant. These shocking findings reinforced the community’s faith in the need to protect their villages from traffickers and exploitative employers and seek action against violators.

Anjali tells young girls are migrating for work as domestic workers, daily wagers in brick kilns, cloth mills and construction sites. Cases of children going missing, unsafe migration and abuse by traffickers on the prowl abound across villages in Khunti district are not uncommon.

Sharing her experience as someone who understands the dangers of unsafe migration, Anjali tells that the villagers seeking work go everywhere. The job market ranges from Ranchi, districts of West Bengal, Orissa, to Delhi in north, Mumbai and Nagpur in the west and Bangalore in the south.

To reinforce her point, Anjali pointed at a relative in her teens sitting next to her. The minor too works at a brick kiln. The girl was back home now as there is work to be done in the fields. Shyly the girl started sharing the details of her work day at the brick kiln and it turned out that to earn Rs 100 she had to ferry a 1000 bricks from the kiln to the stocking space. She said she carried anywhere up to 10 bricks on her head in one round. When asked if she wanted to do this work, she shook her head to indicate that she did not like the work but had no choice.
Move around the quiet village and it turns out that barter system is still a way of life for most needs and ready cash is uncommon. Ask around and one is told that after October the villages see an exodus as the youth, especially girls head for cities in search of work and if they don’t end up in the trap of traffickers who have intermediaries in the villages itself, these migrants will return when they are required to join the village work force to harvest the crop and prepare the fields for the fresh crop. Most are daily wagers and not farm owners so they live from day to day.

Anjali proudly tells that Chanho now has an active Village Child Protection Committee and efforts are being made to make villagers aware of welfare schemes for the Scheduled Tribes and link people to the benefits that can help them.

 As we walk around the village a man walks up and identifies himself as Jugia Kachhap. His daughter is missing and he only knows that she left the village for work in Delhi. He has complained to the Police but is yet to get help. He tries to find hope in Anjali and her team and rushes into his hut to bring out a photograph of his daughter. Like Kacchap many parents wait for children in villages across the districts of Jharkhand who left for work and are yet to return.

‘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.

Woman running orphanage arrested for trying to sell one-month-old boy in TN

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Police arrested a woman running an orphanagein Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu for allegedly trying to sell a one-month-old boy.

Police said the baby was born to a woman out of wedlock. As she did not want to raise the baby, the woman handed it over to the orphanage, run by Banumathi.

Banumathi was arrested after she was seen in a video trying to strike a deal with a man to sell the baby. In the video, which was shared widely on social media, she was seen demanding Rs 4 lakh from the man for the boy.

Banumathi has been running an orphanage in Aranmanai area of Ramanathapuram for several years. Elderly people and people with learning difficulties are being taken care of in the orphanage.
As people started sharing the video, Ramanthapuram district child protection unit, anti-human trafficking wing and Childline intervened and conducted investigations.
The Bazaar police registered a case based on a complaint filed by the district child protection unit and arrested her. The boy was rescued and shifted to a home.
Further investigations were to find out whether any such sale had taken place in the past.

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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India committed to eliminate child labour, says Maneka

UNI

India committed to eliminate child labour, says Maneka

The Indian Government is fully committed to continue working to eliminate child labour through policy and legislation reforms, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Sanjay Gandhi said on Wednesday.

‘India in fully committed towards the prevention, reduction and eventual elimination of child labour through policy and legislation reforms, stable economic growth, respect for labour standards, universal education and social protection initiatives,’ she said while making the country statement at the plenary session of the 4th Global Conference on Sustained Eradication of Child Labour at Buenos Aires in Argentina.

The most comprehensive step taken by the Indian Government was the amendment in the Child Labour Act of 1986, the Minister said. ‘This amendment prohibits employment of children below the age of 14 in any occupation whatsoever. It also prohibits the employment of children in the age group of 14 to 18 years in any hazardous occupation,’ she pointed out and explained that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 treated child labourers as ‘children in need of care and protection’ and empowered the district level Child Welfare Committees to ensure their overall welfare.
Ms Gandhi also disclosed that to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of children, the Indian Government was in the process of bringing a new legislation on trafficking ‘which focuses not only on the punitive measures but also on prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked person.’

The conference has been organised jointly by the Argentine Government and International Labour Organisation (ILO). The country statement brings out the government and national position on child rights and child labour.

She described as ‘world’s biggest social protection measures ever taken by any nation’ the National Food Security Act 2013 and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 — two other critical legislations which provided a safety network to vulnerable communities and played a pivotal role in the prevention of child labour. The WCD minister also highlighted the role played by child helpline (Childline-1098) which is the world’s biggest facility for rescue of children in distressed situation, an official release here said.

Indian sugar mill under scrutiny for using cane harvested by slaves

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An investigation into the rescue of 28 bonded labourers from a sugarcane field in Karnataka state in south India has led police to one of the biggest sugar companies in the region, according to investigators.

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Police said they had registered a complaint against the supervisor of a sugarcane field, his assistant and a factory run by Bannari Amman Sugars Ltd for trafficking workers, using child labour and violating provisions of a law to end bonded labour.

Bannari Amman Sugars has denied any wrongdoing and asked for the case against the company to be dropped.

Campaigners said it was rare to include a manufacturer in a complaint about bonded labour – in which people provide labour to pay of debts or other obligations – as only the middleman or contractors are held accountable.

“We found clear evidence of bondage, with workers not being paid minimum wages and children below 14 years being used to cut the cane,” said Soujanya Karthik of the Mysore district administration that rescued the workers.

A spokesman for Bannari Amman Sugars said the company wrote to the state labour inspector on Oct. 12 making its side clear and declined to comment further.

The letter stated that the sugarcane grower was responsible for harvesting and transporting sugarcane to the factory gate and the price is fixed by the national and state government.

It said a notice by the labour inspector asking to explain why legal action should not be initiated is based on “incomplete information” and asked for the case to be dropped.

The company’s factory near the town of Nanjangud has denied any role in the abuse or bondage of workers. The factory sources cane from nearby farms.

“Ensuring compliance on the fields is not our job. We only deal with the contractor supplying the cane,” said factory general manager Veluswamy, who declined to give his full name.

“Inside the factory we are maintaining labour laws and we have clarified our stand to the labour department as well. This is how it is done across India.”

India banned bonded labour in 1976 but the practice is widespread, with millions from the marginalised Dalit and tribal communities working in fields, brick kilns, mills, brothels or in domestic work to repay debts to employers or money lenders.

Gowramma Raja was one of the workers rescued from the sugarcane field in Mysore in September.

In statements to the officials, the rescued labourers said that were being paid up to 1,000 rupees ($15) per family every week, for their expenses and food, while working up to 12 hours a day cutting, bundling and carrying cane.

“It was a life I hadn’t imagined,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview after her rescue.

“We had taken a loan of 20,000 rupees ($300) and worked tirelessly for three years. But the supervisor wouldn’t even let me go home when my son died. I had to beg him to give me a few days off.”

There was clear evidence of exploitation and abuse in the fields, said William Christopher of non-profit International Justice Mission that assisted the government in the rescue.

“They were living in unsafe conditions in tarpaulin tents, without lighting, toilets or drinking water,” he said.