Rise in number of rescues, arrests as well: Almost half of India’s trafficking victims from West Bengal, reveals NCRB data

A total of 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in the country in 2016, of which Bengal recorded the highest, 3,597 cases, followed by Rajasthan with 1,422 cases

Published in The Indian Express


Forty-four percent of the nation’s trafficking victims are from West Bengal, according to fresh data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Though the data also showed a rise in the number of rescues and arrests in such cases, experts called for more grassroots intervention by the state government and NGOs.

After West Bengal, Rajasthan is a distant second at 17.49 per cent. A total of 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in the country in 2016, of which Bengal recorded the highest, 3,597 cases, followed by Rajasthan with 1,422 cases.

After Rajasthan (5767) and Madhya Pradesh (4817), Bengal recorded the third highest number of victims rescued by police, at 2,793 (77 per cent). Of those rescued, 2,323 are females whereas 470 are males. The numbers of persons arrested in West Bengal in connection with sex trafficking (1,847) is also the highest in the country. The police were also able to charge a large number of those arrested (1,795). However, in 2016, only 11 were convicted, while 224 were acquitted or discharged by court.

“Somewhere, government and NGOs are failing to identify the vulnerability in villages. We are all to blame for this. (That) West Bengal contributes 44% of the nation’s trafficking victims is alarming. Also is the fact that these are registered cases and just the tip of the iceberg,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Bahini, an NGO that works towards rescue and rehabilitation across the country, while speaking to The Indian Express from New Delhi.

“Police seem to be playing a proactive role with a large number of arrests and rescues in 2016. But the district administration and NGOs, which are supposed to reach out to vulnerable families, are not doing their job to a satisfactory level. Bengal remains the hotbed for trafficking,” added Kant.

Experts said poorer sections of society in villages are most vulnerable to trafficking. Traffickers have a good network in villages through touts and utilise poverty and lack of jobs as bait to lure victims. According to the NCRB report, sexual exploitation, prostitution and forced marriage remain the main purposes of trafficking.

“It is mainly through marriages and lure of jobs that girls are trafficked out of Bengal. There is a need of a placement agency Act in the state. The Act will enable proper tracking of agencies (many of which operate from outside Bengal) and whoever they have placed for jobs (possible victims). Secondly, more awareness is necessary to prevent child marriages. Early marriages are still a menace in Bengal. A number of initiatives have been taken like Kanyashree in Bengal, which has been beneficial,” said Chittapriyo Sadhu, general manager, state programme (West Bengal and Assam).

“The modus operandi of traffickers has also changed as compared to five years ago. Also is the fact that more cases are reported now by parents of victims,” added Sadhu. “We are trying our best to rescue girls when a case is reported. In many cases, family members do not report it, mostly when victims are lured for jobs. There is a need for NGOs, civil society, panchayats, police and government to come together for prevention of the menace,” said a senior police officer.


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.


Girls rescued from Delhi Rajdhani

The Committee in its order directed that statements of the girls be recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC on their return to the State.

The rescue of three teenage girls in Delhi has once again brought to the fore the problem of trafficking from West Bengal. They rescued girls hail from Gobardanga in North 24 Parganas district.

Huddled inside a toilet of Sealdah-Delhi Rajdhani Express, the girls between 13 and 16 years arrived in Delhi on September 4. But before they could fall into the trap of traffickers, the police took them under their protective custody.

The three Class VIII students were produced before a Child Welfare Committee in Central Delhi on Monday. The Committee directed that a police officer who had reached Delhi from West Bengal should escort the girls to their homes and put them back in school. The Committee in its order directed that statements of the girls be recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC on their return to the State. “Though the girls said that they wanted to escape home, there are inconsistencies in the statement. References to an aunt of one of the three girls who was earlier working as a bar dancer have also emerged in the conversation with them,” Rishi Kanta an activist of Shakti Vahini, told The Hindu over phone from Delhi. When the matter came to the notice of the representatives of the NGO, they informed the West Bengal Government, which sent a police team to Delhi.

“It is a matter of concern how three minor girls reached Delhi, a long way from West Bengal and that too by the Rajdhani Express. Nothing could be revealed during discussion, whether the Ticket Examiner examined their ticket or not. The girls said they came without ticket,” reads a letter addressed to West Bengal Women and Child Development Department and the State’s Criminal Investigation Department by a representative of Shakti Vahini.

As trafficking of women and children continues to be a major concern of the State, NGO representatives suggested that strict vigil should be ensured at every railway station in the State to prevent such cases.

DGP :80% of Human Trafficking Victims are Women

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We are not encouraging sex workers, Supreme Court clarifies


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today modified one of its order on welfare and rehabilitation of sex workers on the Centre’s submissions that the last year’s order gave an impression that it seeks to legalize prostitution. Allaying the Centre’s fears that it was giving its seal of approval to prostitution, a special bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Misra modified its earlier order, saying “the modification shall not be construed that by this order any encouragement is being given to prostitution.”

Modifying its earlier order, the bench clarified that it would only examine the “conditions conducive for sex workers to work with dignity in accordance with provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.” It added it was keen that sex workers should be given opportunity to avail rehabilitation measures of the government and other agencies for them.While adjudicating a petition for rehabilitation of former sex workers, the apex court had on July 19, 2011 framed three terms of reference.

Appointing a broad-based panel to look into the matter, the apex court by its July 2011 order had formulated three questions related to prevention of trafficking, rehabilitation of sex workers who wish to leave the sex work and “conditions conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity.”On the Centre’s submission that the third term gave an impression that prostitution has been sought to be legalised, the apex court modified it to read as “conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution”.

“The above modification shall not be construed that by this order any encouragement is being given to prostitution,” the bench added. Justice Sudha also observed, “While we do not wish to encourage sex trade we would emphasise rehabilitation of sex workers for which we had taken the issue. “We wish to add although the sex workers have right to live with dignity. There has to be collective endeavours by courts and sex workers to give up flesh trade in case they are given alternative platform on employment.”

Six minors among 14 rescued from brothels

PUNE: The Pune crime branch has rescued 14 women including six minors from two brothels in Budhwar Peth area. The police have arrested five brothel owners under prevention of immoral trafficking act (PITA). The social security cell of the crime branch led by senior police inspector Bhanupratap Barge made the arrests.

Barge told the TOI that he received a tip-off the minor girls were forced into prostitution in some brothels in the Budhwar Peth area. “We raided a brothel in a new building in Budhwar Peth and rescued four women including two minors,” Barge said.

He said that one of the minors was from Bangladesh. The police arrested two women for allegedly running brothel. “They have been identified as Puja Tamang and Maili Tamang,” Barge said. Barge said that the police also raided another brothel in the Sapna building in Budhwar Peth and rescued 10 women including four minors. “We have arrested three suspects in this regard. They have been identified as Shankara Nayak, Kajal Sardar and Bilkis Shaikh all from Sapna building,” Barge said.

Separate cases have been registered against the suspects with the Faraskhana police station. The investigating team comprised police sub-inspector Ashwini Jagtap, police constables Dattatreya Nikam, Kernath Kamble, Shashikant Shinde, Ajit Dhumal, Sandip Holkar and Sohanlal Chutele.

Eight girls rescued from placement cells


NEW DELHI: Eight girls from Assam, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have been rescued from four placement agencies in east Delhi allegedly involved in human trafficking. Four persons, including a woman, have been arrested.

“There was a tip-off from an NGO, Shakti Vahini, and we raided the four placement agencies, Babita Enterprises, India Maid Bureau, Deepika Placement Agency and Mission Welfare Society,” said Sanjay Kumar Jain, deputy commissioner of police (crime). The arrested have been identified as Ravinder Yadav, Pradeep Toppo, Vimal Kerketta and Babita, all residents of Shakurpur in east Delhi.

Four of the rescued girls are from Assam, one from Chhattisgarh and three from Jharkhand. “The girls were terrified and have disclosed that the placement agencies had employed them as domestic help across Delhi. When they wanted to go home, the agencies had detained them and withheld their earnings. These placement agencies wanted them to employ further as domestic helps

,” Jain said. After medical examination, the girls were sent to the children’s home for girls at Nirmal Chhaya in Hari Nagar. Ten girls, who were lured on the pretext of employment in the capital, were also rescued from GB Road brothels in central Delhi. The girls in the age group of 15-18 years were rescued from GB Road brothels following a tip-off by Rescue Foundation, an NGO. Nine of them are from West Bengal and one from Bihar.

“They all belong to poor families and were lured on the pretext of providing them employment in Delhi,” Devesh Srivastava, Additional Commissioner of Police (Central), said. The raid was conducted after the NGO informed police that a a minor girl who was missing from 24 Pargana in West Bengal is confined at Kotha No- 58, GB Road. Out of ten, nine are residents of West Bengal while one is from Bihar.