Society needs to unite to eradicate human trafficking


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New Delhi, Mar 8 (PTI) President Ram Nath Kovind today met survivors of human trafficking on the occasion of International Womens Day and said it was a crime against humanity and the society must unite for its eradication.

People should also be encouraged to urge the survivors of human trafficking into the mainstream of society and help them overcome their problems, Kovind said after meeting the survivors at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

“We need to create an appropriate eco-system for the survivors,” he said.

“We are in that period of communication revolution in which social evils are discussed openly. People are discussing the social evils among themselves which is eventually leading to solutions of these problems,” the president said.

But some problems were still not being discussed much and human trafficking was one of them, he said.

“It is a curse not only for the country but for the whole humanity,” Kovind said, although human trafficking adversely affects both boys and girls but its impact is more frightening on minor girls.

It becomes really difficult for the girls to come out from the grasp of this social evil, he said.

The human traffickers especially target weaker sections who do not have resources to fight them, he said.

It may appear that only an individual or just a family was getting affected by human trafficking but in reality it affects everyone directly or indirectly, the president said.

There has been an increase of over 39 per cent in human trafficking in the last three years and more than four crore people have been affected by it around the globe, he said.

“But the irony is there is lack of awareness about human trafficking,” he said, adding there was a need to give attention to this social evil.

“In such circumstances, I am happy to learn that the Union Cabinet has approved the trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 in which there is a provision for a jail term of up to 10 years for a person convicted for human trafficking,” Kovind said.

Under the bill, it was provisioned to provide relief to victims within 60 days and establishing special courts at district level to handle human trafficking cases, he said.

A special fund will also be developed under this bill for running welfare programmes for the victims, Kovind said.

He exuded confidence that passing of this Bill will strengthen people and organisations working against human trafficking.

The president hailed NGO Justice and Care, which has rehabilitated more than 4,500 human trafficking victims in the last 10 years, for its fight against this social evil.

He said four survivors of human trafficking, who have pledged to fight the social evil, may also be called as “champions of change” and all should work to increase the number of such champions.

He said many schemes of the Centre like Skill India, Start-up India, Stand-up India and Mudra would be helpful in rehabilitation and providing employment to the victims.

The survivors of human trafficking will be able to survive well only when an appropriate eco-sytem was developed for them, the president added.


Meet the Sex Workers Leading the Fight Against Human Trafficking and Child Marriage

The Wire

Rescuing young girls with the help of legal authorities has helped them change people’s attitudes and develop a sense of self-worth.
In 2017, these women helped arrest over 200 traffickers in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. Representative image. Credit: Reuters

In 2017, these women helped arrest over 200 traffickers in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. Representative image. Credit: Reuters

Sex workers in the districts of Anantapur, Kadiri, East Godavari and Belagavi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are often married off at a young age or trafficked to larger cities.

Statistics released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have put Andhra Pradesh at second, after West Bengal, in terms of the prevalence of human trafficking. A large number of minor girls are being trafficked and UNODC states that in January alone, 939 minor girls were reported missing.

Many of the women who have been victims of trafficking or child marriage are now working closely with legal authorities and the police to help put an end to the two.

Their success in this endeavour can be gauged from the fact that in 2017, they helped arrest over 200 traffickers in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. Many of these traffickers were trafficking young girls of about ten or 12. In order to ensure these rescued girls do not come to harm, the sex workers helped get them admitted into residential Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalayas. These are free schools being run by the state government in every mandal of Andhra Pradesh.

How has this incredible turnaround taken place? How have these women picked up the grit to challenge those very people who had been at the forefront of exploiting them for years on end?

These women best describe their journey.


Take the case of Rajeshwari from Kadiri in Andhra Pradesh, who has been engaged in sex work for the last two decades. A three-day workshop in 2015 by the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) was a turning point in her life. There she received training on different laws including Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO), the Nirbhaya Act and the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act by a retired judge and his team of lawyers. She was also taught how to cope with sexual violence and sexual harassment.

These women also received training on becoming paralegal volunteers. The minimum requirement is clearing the matriculation examination (class ten). Rajeshwari was a class four drop out. An exception was made for her and the other sex workers who had participated in this workshop.

“We were given a crash course on different laws including POSCO, Nirbhaya law and the JJ Act. We were also taught how to deal with cases of domestic violence and marital discord and in cases of trafficking and child marriage, we had to inform the district authorities by using the child helpline. In fact, we are paid Rs 250 for every case that we report,” said Rajeshwari.

The workshop gave her enough confidence to start working closely with the police and district authorities. “Being a sex worker, I know the situation on the ground. When a young girl was sold by a trafficker in Bhiwandi in the Thane district of Maharashtra, the local police and some NGOs sought my help,” said Rajeshwari with a sense of pride.

“I was actually taken all the way to Bhiwandi to help bring the girl back and restore her to her parents who live in Kadiri. The local agents here threatened to kill me. When they see me, they abuse me to my face. But now that I am a member of Jan Jagarata (JJ), a local community-based organsiation (CBO), I enjoy a great deal of support,” she said.

She cites the example of another young girl who was trafficked to Mumbai for a sum of Rs 2.5 lakh. “The madam put her to work and had 20 men arriving to have sex with her every day. We got the girl rescued and put her into a school in Hyderabad. The trafficker who took the girl to Mumbai has been arrested and is housed in the jail in Anantapur while another fellow is presently in the Kadapa jail,” said Rajeshwari.

Rajeshwari’s own life bears a startling similarity with the girls she helps rescue. Giving broad details of her life, Rajeshwari said: “When I was in my early 20s, I was taken to Dubai under the pretext of doing domestic work. After three years of sexual exploitation, I sought police protection. The police did not help me. Rather, they too exploited me and shamelessly used me for two years. It was only with the help of a local agent that I was able to return to India.”


Mahalaxmi from Gooty village, who is presently the treasurer for the CBO Ushodaya being run in the neighbouring city of Kalyandurg, cites how a minor girl was kidnapped by three local boys in her area.

After raping her for three days, these boys abandoned her outside her parents’ home in the dead of night. The parents had four marriageable daughters and felt that by taking their eldest child back, they would suffer disrepute in their village and thus were reluctant to take her back.

They had the good sense to seek the help of Mahalaxmi, who insisted they go to the police station and file a complaint against the three boys.

The police tried to misguide the parents and refused to lodge an FIR. Mahalaxmi warned them that in case they did not file an FIR, she would seek the help of the district child protection officer since the girl was only 14, a minor.

When the local cop failed to heed her warning, Mahalaxmi rang up the sub-inspector, warning him that if action was not taken, she would take the matter up with the State Child Rights Commission.

Mahalaxmi said: “The cop got scared and an FIR was registered. The girl was taken for examination to the local government hospital where the rape was confirmed and all three boys have been arrested and jailed.”

Fearing for the girl’s life once the boys were released on bail, the rape victim has been sent to Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalaya in Hyderabad where she is presently continuing her studies.


Usha, the manager of Ushodaya, who had been engaged in sex work for over a decade, also admits that participating in the legal workshop in Hyderabad provided a new direction to her life.

“It helped me develop a sense of confidence. I also understood for the first time that if I am subject to violence, I can turn to the police and the district machinery for help. Nowadays, we meet the police and the district legal authorities on a regular basis. When the district judge goes to visit a jail, he takes a group of us paralegal volunteers along. This has led the local community to change their attitude towards us. More importantly, we have developed a sense of self-worth,” added Usha.

Recently, Usha was informed of how a mother, a former devadasi, had pulled her two daughters out of the local school because she wanted them to be initiated into the same trade.

“A group of us complained to the police. The district child protection unit intervened and the girls have been put into the SOS school in Tirupati to grow up in a more protected and nurturing environment,” said Usha.

How Jan Jagarata was formed

In 2007, the sex workers in Kadiri felt they needed to start their own NGO and that is how JJ came about. Initially, it provided basic HIV/AIDS services to these women. But they soon realised HIV/AIDS was just one of the problems they were facing. Equally pressing were issues of social stigma, discrimination and problems of violence by the hands of clients and partners.

In 2011, after having lengthy interactions with several local NGOs including REDS and CFAR, they picked up enough confidence to get JJ registered.

“Now we have hired two rooms in Kadiri where we have set up an office. We meet every week with a special focus on health. We also hold annual general body meetings to elect a president, secretary and a seven-member board of directors,” said Rama Devi, an office bearer.

But registering their organisation has resulted in other spin off. Members of their organisations are now in a position to access government loans to start their own business. And most importantly, they do not have to offer any collateral for these loans. Their membership in JJ is enough.

Ease in getting loans

Another important initiative these women have taken is to undertake an informal survey of the number of sex workers in and around their district. This helps them provide assistance to someone who is needy and also to keep an eye on anti-social elements.

Adi Narayan amma took a loan of Rs 10,000 two years ago and bought ten sheep with that money. “These have now multiplied to 20. I have succeeded in repaying my first loan. I hope to get a second loan so I can expand my business,” she said.

Another JJ member, Sailaji, received a small amount of money to start a small department store selling groceries and cigarettes from which she earns Rs 7,000 a month.

“My position is now much more secure and I do not have to do sex work anymore,” said Sailaja.

Renuka amma was deserted by her husband at a young age. “I had to bring up my daughter on my own. When my daughter was 16-years-old, she ran away with a man. After having three daughters, she came to my house, left her girls with me and disappeared. I subsequently learnt she was abandoned by her husband. I gave one daughter each to my two sisters and brought up one girl myself. I approached the Single Windows and they helped get my granddaughter admitted to Prajwala Home. Ten years later, my daughter returned because her partner deserted her.”

“Meanwhile, I took a loan of Rs 30,000 to start a business but have used the money on spinal surgery. I take solace in the fact that at least my granddaughter has settled well in her school and is a good student,” she added.

Muni amma was also married off at a young age and is the mother of three children. She worked for several years as a daily labourer but did not earn enough, so she took to sex work to earn additional money.

“Leaving my three children with my in-laws, I was taken to Mumbai to do sex work but the conditions there were miserable. I was not given proper food to eat, even the water to drink was filthy. I got a truck driver to bring me back to Kadiri,” she recalled.

Muni amma also received a loan of Rs 15,000 but has spent the money on her treatment. While she has succeeded in getting two of her children educated, her youngest daughter is studying in college. “I am working hard to stop child marriages in my district and in the last two months have succeeded in stopping six such marriages,” she said.

Legal empowerment

Padmaja been working as lawyer in the district court in Anantapur for the last nine years. She is one of the lawyers appointed by the state government to teach these sex workers paralegal work.

“Our attempt has been to take these women out of this profession and you can do this only if you empower them legally. We also try and ensure they get support of the district legal authority. Now that they are empowered, we have sought their help in fighting cases of trafficking,” said Padmaja.

Rammohan Reddy is another senior lawyer working in Kadiri who is in the forefront of helping these women. “These women tell us we want our children to study and not lead the kind of lives we have led. The state government has opened 25 schools for girls of sex workers and we assist them in getting their girls admitted there. Of course this has created a situation where traffickers are very angry and these women are constantly being threatened by them,” said Reddy.

These women are targeting other social evils as well. Adolescent girls are forced into marriage (often at the instigation of their mothers) to their maternal uncles. Renuka amma cited her own example. She is a widow with two daughters. One morning, her maternal cousin arrived at her place and forcibly wanted to take her 14-year-old daughter who is a class VII  student to get her married to his son. If the mother dared refuse, he warned he would kidnap the girl.

She phoned the Ushodaya team who immediately took her daughter under their protection. They informed the child services and the district child protection officer. The girl has been transferred to a residential school while the cousin was let off with a warning from the police.

Another Ushodaya member, Lalita amma, was married off to her maternal uncle when she was only 13. She is now assisting a campaign launched by several NGOs to stop marriages between blood relatives.

Akhila Sivdas, executive director of CFAR, started the Single Window initiative in 2013 to provide basic services to these women. Although the initiative has now come to an end, CFAR continues to provide guidance to these women. Sivdas said, “They are playing an important part in community policing. They understand the social dimensions of these issues and also provide community support. In many ways, these women are operating like mohalla committees.”

More and more parents are turning to them for support. Recently, in Kotter village in Anantapur district, a boy cheated on a girl and she became pregnant and has delivered a baby boy. The boy’s parents have agreed to have their son undergo a DNA test. If child is fathered by their son, they will get the couple to tie the knot. This entire process is being supervised by the court.

The struggle continues.

India’s first anti-human trafficking law proposes life term for repeat offenders


The bill, reviewed by HT, also proposes a jail term of at least a year and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for those who abet trafficking or fail to protect a victim.
A trafficking victim who was rescued, in Jharkhand.

A trafficking victim who was rescued, in Jharkhand.(Vipin Kumar/HT File Photo)

Life imprisonment for repeat offenders, special courts and dedicated police units are part of key provisions in India’s first law to tackle human trafficking that is likely to be taken to Parliament for approval in the current session.

The bill, reviewed by HT, also proposes a jail term of at least a year and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for those who abet trafficking or fail to protect a victim; and seven years and Rs 2 lakh fine for the owner or manager of a property that has been used for the crime.

Around 8,100 cases of trafficking were recorded in India in 2016 and around 23,000 victims of trafficking were rescued that year, according to National Crime Records Bureau figures that experts call a “mere tip of the iceberg”. Currently, trafficking is covered by a clutch of laws that often delay trials but the government has been working on an umbrella legislation for more than two years.

“The bill — Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017 — is ready and we will take it to Parliament in the Budget session, itself,” said an official involved in the process, asking not to be named.

“In India, life imprisonment does not mean jail for life but usually for a defined period which is generally more than 7 years. But this Bill clearly specifies that for repeat offenders and for those who have committed aggravated form of trafficking, jail term will be for the remainder of the offender’s life,” said the official.

“No person accused of committing an offence under this Act shall be released on bail or on his own bond…,” read the bill, reviewed by HT.

Since trafficking usually involves interstate gangs, the bill proposes district-level “anti-trafficking unit” with an “anti-trafficking police officer”, and a designated sessions court for speedy trials.

State governments need to create a Rehabilitation Fund that will allocate financial resources for protection homes, legal assistance to victims and skill development programmes. The fund will also be used for victim and witness protection and for generating awareness to prevent human-trafficking.

“Section 370 of the IPC is a very strong law to deal with human-trafficking, but this bill becomes important as victims require support such as rehabilitation, witness protection etc. Also a central bill would mean budgetary support to deal with the monitoring and prevention of human-trafficking,” said Ravi Kant, president, Shakti Vahini, an NGO working to prevent human-trafficking.

Human trafficking racket busted, four minor girls rescued

The Tribune

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The police today busted a human trafficking racket with the arrest of two persons. Four minor girls were rescued and one of them has been hospitalised after her employer allegedly inflicted injuries on her.The accused have been identified as Surender Malto and Arun, both residents of Jharkhand. The duo were arrested from Sector 30 here this morning.A police official said Surender had bought one of the victim from his home district for Rs 4,000 two years ago and had sold her to a person in Delhi. The victim, who is recuperating in a local hospital, told the police that she was not only raped several times, but was also sold to two persons during the last two years.She said she was employed as a domestic help in Delhi earlier and was brought to Faridabad and sold to one Mani Mishra here.She accused both her employers of torture and sexual abuse. She alleged that a remuneration of Rs 30,000 earned by her in Delhi was also snatched from her.She said on January 27, she was beaten up with iron rods and a knife and was seriously injured. She managed to escape from the confinement the same night. She was then admitted to a hospital by some locals.The police after registering an FIR carried out raids jointly with Haryana State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (HSCPCR). The other two accused namely Mani Mishra and his wife Anima Mishra are yet to be arrested.Mishra admitted that he had trafficked around 30 girls in the recent past. He said girls were sold upto Rs 20,000 each as domestic maids in the NCR.BK Goel, member, HSCPCR, said he had taken up the matter with the police asking it to probe the functioning of illegal placement agencies in the region.Two Jharkhand girls were also rescued in Ambala district recently.

Jharkhand Govt mulls ordinance route for stringent anti-trafficking law



Jharkhand government is mulling to bring an ordinance to promulgate Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act, which could not be placed in the budget session of the state assembly, as it was curtailed by eight days.

The Act is aimed at effectively countering the menace of human trafficking from Jharkhand, which as per NGOs working in the field see 10,000 girls—mostly minors—trafficked to Delhi and NCR region every year through placement agencies. They eventually end up as domestic servants—tortured and sexually abused in captivity in many cases.

“The draft bill for Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act was ready with all the modifications sought by the governor. But it could not be placed and passed as the assembly session ended before. I will meet chief minister (CM) Raghubar Das in a day or two and request him to bring an ordinance to promulgate the Act to effectively counter the menace of girl and child trafficking and child labour,” Raj Paliwar, state labour minister told the HT over phone.


Governor Droupadi Murmu had returned the draft bill earlier seeking more stringent provisions. “The earlier draft had penal provision of two-year jail and the governor wanted it to be more stringent. Now, penal provisions have been modified making it seven-year jail term on conviction,” a source said.

Paliwar though refused to get into details of the bill, but said all the modifications sought and suggestion given by the governor have now been accommodated in the draft of the said Act.

“The Act is the need of the hour and our government wants it enacted at the earliest. We have made stringent provisions and hope this will give police and antitrafficking agencies an effective tool to rein in traffickers and illegal placement agencies. We will also launch mass awareness drive,” the minister added.

West Singhbhum superintendent of police (SP) Anish Gupta said a strong law was needed to deal with the fake and illegal placement agencies along with awareness drive so that parents don’t get trapped and send their girls on promise of lucrative jobs.

“Parents need to lodge complaint and a strong law will help in speedy prosecution, effective trial and stringent punishment as a deterrent. There’s also sexual exploitation angle involved and we are imposing POCSO in such cases. We have identified certain placement agencies and traffickers and would launch crackdown against them soon,” Gupta said.

Gupta was the Khunti SP when the massive crackdown against child and girl traffickers was launched in Khunti, with antitrafficking unit in-charge Aradhana Singh alone nabbing 85 traffickers and rescuing about 230 trafficked girls between 2015 and 2017.

However, half of those 85 traffickers are already out on bail even though they were booked under non-bailable sections. “In most cases, the parents of the victims turned hostile with the traffickers and their associates threatening them or paying them money to shut up mouth. There’s no effective law to tackle the placement agencies either,” Aradhana Singh said.

Rishi Kant, founder coordinator of NGO Shakti Vahini, said Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act would be a very effective tool to fight the menace run by about 25,000-30,000 placement agencies in Delhi and NCR, as Delhi government has no

placement agencies Act to regulate and monitor them.

“We alone have rescued over 200 trafficked girls from Jharkhand in Delhi and NCR. About 30-40 girls and underage boys are trafficked from Jharkhand every day. And Delhi police are invariably reluctant to act against these

agencies, traffickers or the families hiring the girls. CM Raghubar Das in 2014 had announced to bring back 50,000 trafficked Jharkhand girls back to the state and rehabilitate them. It’s now for bureaucrats and police to take the initiative,” said Rishi Kant.


Indian radio hosts take to the airwaves to highlight human trafficking

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With human trafficking on the rise in India, some radio hosts are using their programs to raise awareness and help listeners spot traffickers.

In the Indian capital, New Delhi, radio host Ginnie Mahajan will talk trafficking on her award-winning show “Suno Na Dilli” (Listen Delhi) this weekend.

“We want Delhi to know that many of these girls working in their houses are reported missing by their parents,” she said.

“We need Delhi to know that girls are being forced into this trade.”

Human trafficking in India rose by almost 20 percent in 2016 against the previous year, Indian government data shows. More than 60 percent of the 23,117 victims rescued were children

Forty-five percent of victims were trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and 33 percent for sexual exploitation, according to the data.

“If we only checked details of the women around whom our lives and kitchens revolve we could actually stop the crime,” Mahajan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Delhi.

Radio has become an important tool in spreading awareness, campaigners say.

“It lets people know what is out there, the sheer horror of such a crime and how close to home it is,” said Adrian Phillips of anti-trafficking charity Justice and Care, which collaborates with radio stations.

While Mahajan’s show reaches urban Indians in the capital, a community radio station in the southern state of Karnataka recently went on air with a special program devoted to human trafficking.

Keerti S. Chougala, a host on Nammura Banuli (Our Village Radio), said she was aiming to educate her nearly 400,000 listeners on the impact of the crime, as well as how to spot traffickers and report cases.

“We wanted to tell women and girls in the region about this in a simple way and raise awareness,” Chougala said.

Run by charity Women’s Welfare Society, the show is broadcast across more than 400 villages in Belgavi district.

In November, a young trafficking survivor shared her story on Akaashwani radio in the eastern city of Kolkata.

An aspiring singer from Bangladesh, she told listeners how traffickers had promised her “starlit dreams” of becoming a singing sensation in India, and then trafficked her to a brothel.

Phillips said radio is ideal for sharing trafficking stories, because survivors can speak about their experiences anonymously, “without fearing repercussions from criminal networks.”

Radio also allows listeners to connect intimately with survivors, he added.

“It’s a real person speaking up and more importantly speaking out,” Phillips said.

Interstate human trafficking gang busted in Churu


Police raided places in Churu and Jhunjhunu leading to the arrest of five- Rajkumar Meghwal (30), Jhabar Meghwal (40), Sintu Swami (26), Vijay Singh (25) and Sher Singh (26).
Churu police busted an interstate human trafficking gang and arrested five people allegedly involved in the activity.

Churu police busted an interstate human trafficking gang and arrested five people allegedly involved in the activity.(Getty Images/Stock photo (REPRESENTATIVE PIC))

Churu police busted an interstate human trafficking gang on Saturday and arrested five people allegedly involved in the activity. Police also freed three women who were victims of the racket.

The police on Thursday were tipped off that a woman who was brought by the gang to Chhajusar village, has escaped from the place and was roaming homeless in the city, a press note from the Churu superintendent of police (SP) Barhat Rahul Manhardan said.

With the help of Aapni Sakhi, the mobile team of women personnel, police reached the trafficked woman, who confirmed that she was brought to the district by the gang. A team of senior police officials was formed by the SP to look into the matter.

The woman, who hailed from Jharkhand, said that it was an interstate gang that targeted poor and helpless women. The gang would abduct them and then they would be trafficked to various parts of the country.

Police raided places in Churu and Jhunjhunu leading to the arrest of five- Rajkumar Meghwal (30), Jhabar Meghwal (40), Sintu Swami (26), Vijay Singh (25) and Sher Singh (26).

“While Rajkumar and Jhabar were part of the gang, the other three had bought the women from them for
Rs 1.5-2 lakh,” said additional SP Keshar Singh. The main members of the gang were in Delhi and would supply women to Rajkumar and Jhabar, who in turn would supply them to people in Rajasthan, he added.

Two other women from Delhi and Punjab, were also freed. Churu police will send a team to Delhi to scout for others involved in the racket.