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.

181 helpline

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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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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Two alleged human traffickers arrested

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New Delhi, Nov 15 (PTI) Two men, carrying a cash reward of Rs 50,000 each on their head for allegedly running a human trafficking syndicate, were arrested, police said today.

Two men, carrying a cash reward of Rs 50,000 each on their head for allegedly running a human trafficking syndicate, were arrested, police said today.

Two alleged human traffickers arrested

In November 2013, a human trafficking racket was busted in central Delhi’s Kamla Market and eight suspected pimps from the GB Road, were held, they said.

During investigation, it was revealed that the racket was being run by Saidulla Ali Gyan (43) and Atiyar Sheikh (33), the police said.

Efforts were made to arrest them but in vain, they said, adding a cash reward of Rs 50,000 each was declared on their arrest.

Last month, it was learnt that the two accused were residing in Kolkata, West Bengal, and continuing their human trafficking business from there, P S Kushwah, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell), said.

Sources were deployed in Kolkata and nearby districts to track them, he said.

On November 14, Gyan and Sheikh were nabbed from the Sealdah railway station, Kolkata, the DCP said.

Gyan was engaged in the human trafficking business for the last 10 years and used to lure poor people on the pretext of getting them a job and sending them to Delhi with the help of Sheikh, he said.

India committed to eliminate child labour, says Maneka

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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.

Bill to regulate placement agencies in Delhi still at discussion stage, expected to be ready by Dec

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Delhi’s placement agency bill will have stricter punishment for agencies employing minors and will propose action against employers hiring child domestic workers.

The delay by the Delhi government in coming up with a bill to regulate placement agencies has resulted in an unregulated business flourishing at the cost of human rights.

Hundreds of minors ,mostly girls, from villages of Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh are trafficked to Delhi and employed as domestic help.

Hundreds of minors ,mostly girls, from villages of Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh are trafficked to Delhi and employed as domestic help.(HT FILE)

The rescue of three girls from a house in north Delhi’s Model Town has once again brought up the issue of protecting domestic help in the national capital.

While states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are active in regulating the sector, Delhi’s placement agency bill is still at the discussion stage. “We are in the final stage of discussion and should be ready by the end of this month,” said labour commissioner Sanjay Saxena.

Sources said that the bill will have stricter punishment for agencies employing minors and will propose action against the employer hiring child domestic workers.

The Jharkhand government bill, which is yet to be approved by the governor, has made it mandatory for placement agencies to maintain a register of employer and employees.

“The bill is must to control the trafficking of minors. I was part of Jharkhand bill and ensured that it should be called placement agency and domestic workers bill. It has covered almost every aspect and should be replicated in Delhi. It has explained the situation of placement agencies and domestic workers very well,” said Amod Kanth, chairperson of Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council (DWSSC) and also head of NGO Prayas, which rescued the three girls in Model Town.

Hundreds of minors (mostly girls) from villages of Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh are trafficked to Delhi and employed as domestic help. Jharkhand chief minister had recently said that over 50,000 girls from Jharkhand are in metro cities and about 50% of them are in Delhi.

“The bill is expected to curb trafficking and stop exploitation of domestic helps. We have been demanding the bill for long and government has promised to table it in the next assembly session. It has provision of criminal action against employer, which would deter the common public,” said Rakesh Senger, director (campaign) of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.

Despite repeated attempts, labour minister Gopal Rai could not be contacted.

The draft bill of the Delhi government also talks about timely salary and the payment that should directly go to employee from the employer’s account.

These are the safest and most dangerous states for women in India

While Goa was ranked the safest among the states, Bihar was found to be the most unsafe.
Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

With violence against women becoming rampant in the country, the safety of women has become a matter of grave concern.

Logic cannot really deduce what provokes alleged perpetrators to impregnate a child or even rape a 100-year-old woman for that matter.

In such a situation, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has released a Gender Vulnerability Index, complied by Plan India that ranks states in India, in terms of the level of safety that they promise to women.

The index aims to identify the status of Indian women with regard to education, health, poverty and protection.

According to the study, Goa has been rated as the safest state for women, with a GVI (Gender Vulnerability Index) score of 0.656. It has ranked first in terms of protection, fifth for education, sixth for health and survival and eighth for poverty.

Other states where women are considered to be least vulnerable include Kerala, Mizoram, Sikkim and Manipur.

Picture courtesy: Plan India

Picture courtesy: Plan India

On the other hand, Bihar was found to be the most unsafe state for women, with a GVI score of 0.410. Women are believed to be the most vulnerable in the state, less healthy and poorer, as compared to other states in the country. The state also ranked the lowest in terms of education and protection.

Bihar was preceded by Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, with GVI score of 0.436 and 0.434 respectively.