Raped, beaten up, trafficked to Delhi…and now a rescuer

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A victim of rape, child marriage (to the rapist), domestic violence and, as if this wasn’t horrible enough, human trafficking!

Today she is 18, owns a small business and saves girls from descending into the same hell, at a village in the Sundarbans, West Bengal. Aparna (name changed) was just nine when she was raped by a 19-year-old man who entered her house while she was sleeping and her mother had gone for work.

He left her bleeding on the bed. In the evening, when her mother returned, Aparna narrated the incident to her, and the duo went to the village’s arbitration centre seeking justice.

After an investigation, the boy was identified and was forced to marry her. That was, as per the village elders, justice enough and punishment enough for the rapist. Today, Aparna encourages rape survivors to register FIRs rather than go for arbitration and end up marrying their tormentors.

Marrying the man who raped her soon turned into a nightmare for Aparna. Her husband started beating her up, singed her with cigarette tips, struck her with rods and belts. Every day, she was left blue and black.

Unable to bear it any longer, Aparna approached the arbitration centre to complain about domestic violence. This time, the elders told her to take the legal path.

“I filed a case and started visiting the court for the legal proceedings. Soon, it became a hassle for me to visit the court for hearings. One day at Canning railway station, from where I was supposed to board a train to meet my advocate, an unknown woman approached me. She was carrying a water bottle with her. I was thirsty and asked the woman for a drink of water. But she bought me a new water bottle. Few minutes after I drank that water, I became unconscious. When I regained consciousness, I was in a brothel in Delhi,” she said.

Some days later, Aparna got to know that her mother-in-law had sold her to a human trafficker.

“At the brothel in Delhi, I was forced to attend to more than eight customers a day,” she said, adding that there was physical violence also.

“Almost a month later, I learnt that the brothel was located in central Delhi’s GB Road. The building was like a cage where you can’t even breathe. At times, I was tortured by the customers who have left several cigarette burn marks on me,” Aparna told MAIL TODAY.

One day, and she remembers that it was raining outside, a customer dressed in a white shirt and blue denims came.

“He looked educated. After I locked the door, I started crying and I told him how I was trafficked. He assured me that he will rescue me. Few days later, a police team along with an NGO raided the brothel where I was caged. They rescued me. When I reached the police station, I was surprised to see the same man sitting in a senior official’s room. He recognised me and I was sent back to my village,” she said.

Aparna has also dedicated her life to saving young girls in her village from falling prey to predators.

“I am a part of Bandhan Mukti, a rape suvivors’ collective group. I am also a part of Swayangisddha, an initiative taken by West Bengal Police. I don’t want others to experience what I have. We work with vulnerable girls and victims, try to educate them and make them strong enough to defend themselves,” she said.

The 18-year-old has counseled more than 30 rape survivors and has educated several vulnerable girls about human-trafficking.

“During counseling sessions, many minor girls have told me about traffickers in their localities. I keep on passing such information to the police,” she said.

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Policy dive: All you need to know about Trafficking of Persons Bill, 2017

Hindustan Times - Latest News

Policy Dive picks a policy issue, traces the debate around it, the different schools of thought and the choices involved.
More than 300,000 children went missing in the country between 2012 and 2017.

More than 300,000 children went missing in the country between 2012 and 2017.(Shutterstock/Representative image )

The government had listed the bill aimed at protecting trafficked persons, especially young girls and women, for introduction in the Lok Sabha in the just-concluded budget session. But continued disruptions, which virtually wiped out the second part of the session, prevented the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017 from being introduced.

Here is all you need to know about the proposed law

Issue

More than 300,000 children went missing in the country between 2012 and 2017, government data shows. Around 100,000 are yet to be traced and it is feared that many of them could have been trafficked.

In 2016, for instance, 111,569 children were reported missing. Of these, 55,944 children were traced but only 8,132 trafficking cases were reported.

Many of these children are victims of modern slavery — forced into prostitution, labour or domestic work.

They are also used as drug mules and even given up for adoption illegally. Poverty and lack of opportunity also pushes a lot of young women, especially from the interior parts of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand, into prostitution.

Despite the enormity of the problem, India lacks a single comprehensive law for human trafficking. At present, trafficking is covered under half-a-dozen laws resulting in confusion and poor enforcement.

Significance

For the first time, a standalone law to address the problem has been proposed that will treat a trafficked person as a victim and not an offender. It not only prescribes stringent punishment but also addresses the crucial issue of rehabilitation of victims, many of whom are lured by traffickers on the promise of a better life and jobs.

The rehabilitation is not contingent on criminal proceedings. A special rehabilitation fund has been proposed for immediate protection of rescued persons. The punishment for traffickers varies from 10 years rigorous imprisonment to life sentence and Rs 1 lakh fine in cases of aggravated crimes.

Also in a first, a national anti-trafficking bureau run by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) has been proposed to coordinate with other countries, as many times the victims, mostly women, are smuggled out of the country.

The proposed law also makes registration of placement agencies that recruit or supply domestic helps mandatory.

Debate

The bill has been debated intensely, within the government and also among activists and organisations. When the bill was being drawn up, the ministry of external affairs said the law should address trafficking of persons within India as well as overseas.

The women and child development ministry (WCD), which is piloting the bill, had countered, saying the bill already covered the movement of trafficked person from one place to another within the country and also overseas.

Activists and non-government organisations such as Lawyers Collective have criticised the proposed law, saying it has nothing new to offer and all its provisions are already covered under existing laws. The new law will only end up “complicating the legal framework and its enforcement”.

The government says because the laws dealing with trafficking were not consolidated, the issue could not be tackled effectively. Hence, the need for a comprehensive standalone law.

Activists have also said no substantial research has gone into the bill, an argument rejected by the WCD ministry.

Lawyers’ Collective has pointed out that the provision to charge a person who encourages another person to “migrate illegally into India or Indians to some other country” with aggravated form of trafficking punishable with 10-year imprisonment could have serious implications for cross-border movement of people, including refugees.

The WCD ministry has said the argument does not hold.

Nepal girls trafficked into India up by 500% in last 5 years: SSB report

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • The study by Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) claims the number of victims brought illegally into India has gone up by 500% since 2013
  • SSB says they are then forced into prostitution or pushed to into domestic help or other forms of exploitative labour

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A study conducted by border guarding force Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) on “Human Trafficking on Indo-Nepal border” claims the number of victims brought illegally into the country has gone up by 500% since 2013 with girls trafficked from villages and Terai region of Nepal sold to brothel owners in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities for up to Rs 50,000.

In 2013, 108 girls/children were rescued at Indo-Nepal border, while 607 such victims were rescued in 2017.

Calling Nepal the “source” country for most of the trafficking of children and women to India, SSB says they are then forced into prostitution or pushed to into domestic help or other forms of exploitative labour, and in a few cases their organs are illegally harvested.

Quoting statistics of Nepal’s women and social welfare ministry, according to which 26 of Nepal’s 75 districts are trafficking prone, SSB says that most women/children at risk are from the hills and of schedule castes, but members of higher castes are also trafficked into India.

The traffickers, men (often called ‘dalals’) and women (‘didis,’ who are sex workers themselves), bring the girls aged 9 to 16 – to border towns before they are brought to India by bus. Near the border, professional agents who lure the girls for selling in the brothels are paid up to Rs 6,000 for every child. Apart from the ‘didis,’ SSB says, sometimes family members also act as traffickers. The girls are coached to conceal their true age in case they are stopped and questioned by the police.

Discussing the routes taken by traffickers, SSB says Nepalese girls from villages are first taken to Kathmandu, either to the guest houses or carpet factories, or from there to border towns in Nepal, where they are sold to “brokers.”

“The brokers then travel by bus or by train to Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi or even to smaller cities and sell these girls to a brothel owner or madam (referring to female agents in India) for up to Rs 50,000. Most brokers travel by local buses to Delhi, and then Mumbai by train,” says the SSB research, exclusively accessed by TOI.

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Some of the brothel owners, SSB says, are politically connected and hence, are not convicted.

 SSB says peak trafficking months in Nepal are between June and late August or early September when ‘didis’ return to their villages and recruit girls to bring to Indian cities. “At this time of the year (June to August), every mountain village of Nepal suffers from more than the usual level of poverty, while they wait for new harvests,” says SSB.

Quoting a recent Indian government survey, SSB says 60% of women/children working as commercial sex workers do so out of poverty or economic compulsion.

 

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

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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.

3 more arrested for human trafficking

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Three more accused in international human trafficking racket were arrested by unit III crime branch on Friday and Saturday. While Pyara Singh Gotara was arrested on Friday, Jarnel Singh Gotara and Rajinder Singh Atwal were picked up on Saturday.

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The number of arrested accused has now gone up to ten. Police said that 57 youngsters were trafficked from the city to North America, Europe, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi, apart from Maharashtra.

According to police, of the ten arrested, two accused would create fake bona fide and school leaving certificates. The youngsters were trafficked to shops, construction sites, hotels and malls as workers and for driving taxies. So far, 20 trafficked persons have been traced while hunt for other accused and victims is continuing.

Teenager crushed under truck

 Seventeen-year-old Prasanjeet Meshram, a labourer, who was riding pillion on a bike, died on the spot after being hit by an unidentified truck in front of Umiya gate at Kalamna on Saturday.
Prasanjeet was sitting between rider Mukesh Kosare and his cousin Ganesh Bawne when the trio was returning from Bhandara.
All the three fell off after being hit by the truck. Kosare and Bawne sustained minor injuries. However, Prasanjeet succumbed to head injuries.
Kalamna police have registered a case of negligence in driving against the unknown truck driver.

 

Godman running trafficking racket: DCW after rescuing 2 girls from Delhi ashram

The girls were confined illegally at an ashram run by spiritual leader Virender Dev Dixit in Karawal Nagar.
DCW chief Swati Maliwal has demanded a CBI probe into ‘human trafficking racket’ being run by Virender Dev Dixit. (Photo: PTI/File)

DCW chief Swati Maliwal has demanded a CBI probe into ‘human trafficking racket’ being run by Virender Dev Dixit.

Two girls were on Tuesday rescued from illegal confinement at an ashram run by spiritual leader Virender Dev Dixit in Karawal Nagar in a joint operation by the police and Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), officials said.

Some literature was also confiscated from the ashram where the girls were  confined, as crackdown continued on the controversial spiritual leader’s premises, they said.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal along with Ajay Verma, advocate appointed as amicus curae by the Delhi High Court, had visited the centre at Karawal Nagar on Monday. They found six women, including the two minors, living in confinement there.

Maliwal, who visited another centre run by Dixit at Nangloi on Monday, demanded a CBI probe into what she suspected was a human trafficking racket being run by him.

“It appears that Baba Virender Dev Dixit is running a human trafficking racket. The CBI should urgently and simultaneously conduct raids at all ashrams of Dixit across India and close them down. By delaying the raids, he is getting time to cover up his action,” she had said.

On December 23, the DCW along with the Delhi Police raided Dixit’s ashram in Mohan garden area of Uttam Nagar and found 25 women confined there.

The issue had come to light due to a PIL filed by an NGO Foundation for Social Empowerment before the Delhi High Court.

The NGO had informed the court that several minors and women were allegedly being illegally confined there.