Global human trafficking racket busted in Hyderabad


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 rampant in coastal Andhra

By Sulogna Mehta, Published in The Times Of India

VISAKHAPATNAM: In the last six months alone, eight minor girls were rescued from commercial sex workers’ dens in the city as well as from tribal and coastal areas, while a year ago 22 women and minor girls facing sexual harassment were rescued from a brick kiln in Andhra Odisha border, say NGOs. But shockingly none of these cases either found their way to the police records or none of the culprits were booked under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA).

Trafficking of children and underage girls is rampant in the coastal districts of AP, especially in Agency and coastal areas. Even though the government officials, NGOs and police unanimously admit to it, most of these cases of exploitation take place on the sly, with the result that no cases have been registered under the ITPA.

This despite the police and women-child welfare officials concerned realizing that it is high time they activate the existing district level committees and anti-trafficking squads to step up vigilance. Currently, the existing committees are allegedly lying in a dormant state and lack the teeth being stringent enough to bring the culprits to book.

Girls from this region are mostly trafficked to Goa and Mumbai and sold in brothels or used in sex tourism. Absence of proper vigil and sensitisation programmes among police and district administration has led to an increase in trafficking even though the heinous crime goes unrecorded,” said B Ramu, executive secretary, Grama Swarajya Samithi (GSS), an NGO that works for women and child welfare. “In fact, even if girls are rescued, the cases are not booked under ITPA but are diluted into offences like creating nuisance etc. Most of the victims also suffer from various sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.” added Ramu.

“Taking advantage of the loss of their traditional occupation (agriculture), debt trap, poverty and unemployment, often pimps in disguise lure them with promise of jobs and marriage. With industrialisation, tourism projects and real estate activities, strangers and outsiders have been coming into the region in the guise of contract workers and migrant labourers and some of them are even indulging in trafficking,” Ramu explained

D Bangarapapa, circle inspector, district crime records bureau admitted that pimps and traffickers frequent the tribal and rural areas in the guise of migrants. “There’s no doubt that such trafficking of children and women is taking place in the vulnerable areas of the city, villages as well as the Agency areas such as Araku and Paderu. But since no complaints are filed, we can’t register cases under ITPA. There is also no active district-level committee to look into this issue,” she said.

Concurring that there’s an urgent need to curb trafficking, especially of underage girls, A E Robert, project director of the women and child welfare department, Vizag, said, “We are soon going to activate community vigilant groups in all villages of the district and sensitise sarpanches, supervisors, police constables as well as self-help groups. Families having many girls will be identified through a survey and made cautious about any strangers coming to the village and luring them with jobs or promise of marriage. The awareness programmes will be taken to the grass-root level and the point emphasized strangers should be questioned.”

Sadly, despite a government order highlighting the need for a comprehensive policy and action plan to combat trafficking of women and children as well as rescue and rehabilitation of victims, no concrete measures have been taken despite industrialization, commercial activities and migration making inroads into the vulnerable areas.


HC directs govt to close down unauthorized immigration consultancies


The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the protector of emigrants, Chandigarh to provide list of the names of registered immigration consultancies and agents in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to the respective states and UT so that unauthorized immigration shops can be closed down.

The division bench comprising acting chief justice MM Kumar and justice Alok Singh directed the two states and UT to check the credentials of all the immigration consultancies and agents and take action as per law against the defaulters and file their status reports within four weeks time.

The bench, during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation filed by former high court judge Amar Dutt also issued directions to union ministry of overseas Indian affairs and proctector general of emigrants to put the names of authorited immigration consultancies/consultants on their websites and give it wide publicity so that public could come to know about the genuine consultants. It was also directed that the authorities concerned would also keep a watch on the advertisements being issued in the print and electronic media by the immigration counsultancies to check frauds.

Justice(retd) Dutt is also the chairman of the nodal cell for NRI affairs constituted by the Chandigarh Administration. He had informed the bench through his counsel Anil Malhotra that in the absence of any law made by Parliament to define the offence of human smuggling and illegal trafficking of human beings, unscrupulous agents and unregistered agencies indulge in the illegal business of sending gullible citizens abroad by wrong means upon extracting huge sums of money.

The bench was also informed that the Emigration Act, 1983 is the only legislation on the subject made by Parliament. All the recruiting agents/employers working in any place are duty bound to follow the provisions laid down under the Act, before conducting the business of sending people outside India on the pretext of jobs or employment. The recruiting agents/employers not working as per the 1983 Act are unlicensed and unauthorized, it was informed.

The case would now come up for hearing on July 12.

105 passports found from unclaimed baggage at IGI

In what could lead to a massive human trafficking racket, custom officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) have recovered a bag containing 105 Indian passports. Though the bag was recovered a month ago, the matter has now been transferred to the Delhi Police considering the sensitivity of the matter.

“We were informed by the custom officials and a case under Passport Act will be registered. Since the passports were issued from different parts of the country, we will be writing to the regional passport officers to know the originality of passports,” a senior officer said. Police said that the baggage had come in a Turkish Airline and was seized by customs as unclaimed luggage. The tag on the baggage indicated that it belonged to a Gujarat resident who had landed in Delhi by a Turkish Airways flight. Further investigations are on.

Nepal’s envoy blames Indian agents for misery of trafficked housemaids



Published: Dec 31, 2011 00:12 Updated: Dec 31, 2011 00:12

RIYADH: The Nepalese ambassador has blamed unscrupulous job agents in India for the problems of his country’s housemaids, who are sent to work in the Kingdom through illegal means.

“This is a big challenge we are facing with the Nepalese housemaids working here, who were trafficked into Saudi Arabia through illegal channels,” Ambassador Udaya Raj Pandey told Arab News on Friday. The envoy was speaking to Arab News during a community function dubbed ‘Guru’ to mark the advent of the New Year. The event was spiced with cultural shows and provided a conducive platform for the Nepalese expatriates in the capital to meet and greet one another.

Pande explained that job agents from India go to Nepal and promise the women lucrative jobs in the Kingdom. They are brought to the Indian cities of Mumbai and Delhi for export for employment in households in Saudi Arabia, he added. Nepalese citizen do not require visas to enter India, he noted. These maids, he said, come to the Kingdom through these illegal channels and become victims of recruiting agents, who deploy the maids to various sponsors according to their whims and fancies.

“On investigation of a complaint made by a runaway housemaid for nonpayment of salaries for seven months, we found that the local agent had taken the money from the local sponsor in lieu of the maid’s hard work in the Kingdom,” Pande said. Another maid, Rita Pasi, 51, he said, was sent back by her sponsor to the agent in Riyadh, where she was raped and severely beaten by the money-minded agents.

The mission also detected another case of an Indian maid, Mina Rai, 31, who had come to the Kingdom on a fake Nepalese passport made by Indian agents, the envoy said. In October this year the Nepalese government lifted a three-year ban on sending maidservants to Gulf countries. The ambassador said that during the ban, these agents exploited the situation for their benefit at the cost of innocent maidservants.

The envoy said there is an estimated 70,000 Nepalese housemaids living in the Kingdom and most of them had come through these traffickers. “I am getting two to three runaway maids a day, who came here through these unscrupulous agents in India. There is a large number of runaway maid servants, currently sheltered by the mission. Besides these maids, he said, there are some 600,000 Nepalese male workers, who came through legal channels and are deployed in various sectors.

Ever since the ban was lifted, Pande said, his mission has been working on an ambitious plan to streamline the recruitment of maids from Nepal to Saudi Arabia. He explained that his government has stipulated a minimum monthly salary of SR800 plus SR200 for overtime work. He said the maidservants do not limit their work for eight hours. “We also want Saudi sponsors to offer maids air-conditioned rooms and provide them with insurance covers.”

The plan comes within the framework of an agreement with the Kingdom and other Gulf countries that will guarantee protection to the maids. Addressing his countrymen at the function, the envoy urged his community members to comply with the local customs and conventions. “Please don’t run away from your workplaces,” the ambassador told the Nepalese male workers, requesting them to contact the mission for advice and guidance to resolve their problems.

Most of the labor problems generate due to misunderstandings between the employer and the employee, Pande said, adding that the embassy can negotiate such problems looking after the interests of both parties.

Nepal’s Migrants Lured By Empty Promises, Trapped by Bosses Abroad




It’s not hard to see why so many Nepalese workers leave their country to try their luck in the rich Gulf states; the sale of their “cheap labor” abroad seems like the only way to climb out of the global wealth gap. But their hope is buoyed on empty promises, according to an investigation by Amnesty International, which shows how Nepal’s migration system transforms its people into commodities on both sides of the labor trade.

The Amnesty report details scores of cases of inhumane treatment, including many migrants reporting they were “beaten, threatened and had their freedom of movement restricted by employers.” Concentrated in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and within a few low-wage sectors such as construction and domestic work, migration has grown exponentially over the past decade. The official count is more than 290,000 in 2010, but the real number could be as much as double that. The exodus was in part spurred by the chaos resulting from a long-running civil conflict that led to massive killing and displacement.

For a “developing country,” though, these migration patterns are not an example of the “free market” at work. The migrant industry is managed by brokers who funnel labor into foreign markets while authorities turn a blind eye to horrific working conditions, and the workers in turn pump out remittances that prop up Nepal’s economy.

In 2008-2009, the labor agencies sucked about $710,000 per day from migrants’ pockets, just for the privilege of toiling in a country where they might earn enough to live on. According to researchers, ‘Of the 150 returnees and prospective migrant workers interviewed for the report, more than 90 per cent of them said that they were deceived by recruitment agencies and brokers on the fundamental aspects of their contract.” These agencies have little oversight, despite labor laws governing migration. Authorities have generally failed to address abuse issues and hold agencies accountable for labor violations.

The report also suggests that, by leaving migrants with no opportunity but to enter into crooked contracts, the whole financial infrastructure of Nepal is also partly to blame:

Even if migrants, while still in Nepal, become aware of the discrepancies between what they were promised and what appears in their contract, it is generally too late to challenge this, as they only receive their contract, passport, work visa and flight ticket days or hours before their departure – frequently at the airport itself. At this point, migrants are usually already too deeply indebted to be able to refuse the job.

This is because the prospective migrants must pay the recruitment fees in advance and the vast majority can only do this by taking out large loans from private individuals at an average annual interest rate of about 35 per cent. This is 150 per cent higher than the maximum acceptable interest charge of 14 per cent, as stipulated by the Government. However, as banks will generally not provide loans to migrants without adequate financial collateral, most prospective migrants have no choice but to accept the exorbitant terms offered by private lenders.

Similar debt systems target the poor around the world (the U.S., where predatory lenders stalk low-income neighborhoods, is no exception). But impoverished Asian migrants are especially vulnerable to multiple barriers of global inequality. With migrants’ fees averaging about $1,400, “recruiters” extract about three times the average 2010 yearly income in Nepal.

Migrants quickly become virtual captives. Amnesty researcher Norma Kang Muico told In These Times: for many, returning to their home countries was not an option, even though they realised that they had been deceived on their salary amount, job type, overtime pay, and/or rest day.

The social toll of migration often falls hardest on Nepalese women, who make up about 30 percent of transnational migrant workers. Physical, sexual, verbal abuse and threats were reported by many female domestic servants and nearly women trafficked into prostitution.

One woman who had worked in Kuwait said in an interview:

One time the second son told me he loved me and wanted to be with me. When I told him no, he became aggressive and grabbed me but I pushed him away. When the mother saw this, she blamed me and began to beat me.

However, gender-specific regulations imposed by the Nepalese government, ostensibly to “protect” women migrants, has backfired. To get around restrictions on formal migration for female domestic workers, Muico said, “many migrate through irregular channels to work abroad.  As a result, female migrant workers face a higher risk of forced labour practices….  Several interviewees told us that they did not go to the Nepalese authorities for help because of their undocumented status.”

Though exploitative labor migration may seem an inevitable byproduct of a vast global inequities, governments can take steps to protect workers who make the journey, in Muico’s view:

In order to address some of the wider issues of poverty and unemployment, sending and receiving countries must both endorse safe migration.  If the recruitment process is transparent, that is, migrants are properly trained, receive a contract in Nepali and in advance of travel, and the terms and conditions of their contract are fulfilled, then they are more likely to experience successful migration.

“Successful migration” in today’s economy means at best a chance to return home to start a business or pay a child’s school tuition, and to invest remittances toward leveling out some of the inequality afflicting their communities.

Yet, as relatively prosperous countries deal with financial crisis (or in the case of the Middle East and North Africa, political upheaval), and poverty and corruption continue at home, a cleaner path to migration won’t resolve the long term social struggles in the Global South. Nonetheless, when the state exploits migrants and reaps the profits of the risks they take abroad, they not only forfeit economic sovereignty to the predation of a neoliberal labor market, but they break a social contract with their own citizens.


Bar dancers in big sex racket

Investigations into the international prostitution racket that was busted at the international airport on Wednesday has uncovered a highly-organised modus operandi, where girls are screened and auditioned in studios before being sent abroad to cater to filthy-rich clients. The racket caters to clients based out of Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East.

“Most of the girls are former bar dancers. They are carefully screened before being selected and even have to give an audition in a studio, where they are photographed. Most of these studios are located in Andheri. Selection is based on the results of this audition,” Vasant Dhobale, assistant commissioner of police, social service branch, said.

According to an official, pimps provide girls from several major cities in India. Apart from Mumbai, the racket also has modules in Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata, Rajasthan and New Delhi.

“Girls are sent in batches of six to 10 every 10 days from these cities. They are provided either tourist visas or work permits, which claim that they are going abroad as ‘dance artistes’. Each girl is given `1.5 to 2.5 lakh, while being sent abroad. Around 40 per cent of whatever she earns while ‘entertaining’ clients, is taken by the pimps after she returns,” said Mr Dhobale. Nearly 5,000 girls are sent abroad from India every month, and the profits of the rackets run into several hundred crores of rupees, the police said.

During the flash raid on Wednesday, 10 passports were seized; a scrutiny of these has revealed that the girls had been sent to Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and Singapore in the past. Meanwhile, a local court has remanded Sharif Sheikh arrested in Wednesday’s raid, to police custody till Tuesday.