Victims of Human Trafficking, These Chhattisgarh Girls Are Now Proud Bakers

The Better India

Reports suggest that close to 1500 cases of children who, as per a UNICEF survey, were trafficked from only five blocks in Chhattisgarh’s Jashpur district alone, from 2012 to 2014.

Beti Zindabad’ is a flagship project undertaken by the Chhattisgarh government. This unique initiative is helping survivors of human trafficking by setting up bakery units in Jashpur, in Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh is among top five states in the country, as far as figures for women and girl trafficking is concerned.

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The ten women survivors who run this unit have been subjected to trauma, trafficking, enslavement, and even physical abuse. While many organisations across the state are working on rescuing these girls, little is being done to rehabilitate them and help them live their life with dignity. Running this bakery unit has given their life a new meaning, and these women are embracing it well.

After spending some of the darkest days of their life, they were rescued from different parts of the country.

Aged between 15 and 21, the girls were excited with a long list of orders for nearly 100 cakes to deliver during Christmas, as reported by Times of India.

To prevent them from victims again, the idea of baking was introduced – Fresh out of the oven

As per a report in Nyooz, “Girls suffer from social stigma and their economic and social emancipation is crucial for their survival after their rescue. Breaking the pattern of obsolete skill development programmes, youths in Jashpur are being trained in hospitality, construction work, plastic engineering, fire safety and other occupational skills.

One of the girls in the group said that she was trafficked to Hyderabad a few years ago and was forced into domestic slavery. She was then left locked in a house by the owners with a mobile phone and very little to eat when they went on holidays.

“I was desperate to return home and totally exhausted. It was while watching a crime show on TV through which I learnt about a helpline number for children and I immediately called up for rescue. Though the traffickers were also arrested, I hadn’t brought anything back after nine years of slogging,” she narrated.

She was sexually and mentally assaulted, and her parents assumed she was dead as she wasn’t allowed to contact them all this while, as reported by the Times of India.

Here’s wishing this project the best and hope that many more survivors can live their life with dignity.

 

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New anti-trafficking law soon: Life term for repeat offenders

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The bill has proposed 10-year punishment for those engaging in “aggravated forms of trafficking". For repeat offenders, it suggests imprisonment for life. The bill has also proposed the establishment of a national anti-trafficking bureau.
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 The government is set to introduce a law to guard against human trafficking, proposing a 10-year punishment for those engaging in “aggravated forms of trafficking” while seeking life imprisonment for repeat offenders.
A bill to identify various forms of trafficking, including for the purposes of bonded labour, sexual exploitation, pornography, removal of organs and begging, has proposed severe punishment for those engaging in the heinous crime.

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2017, initiated by the Women & Child Development Ministry, is currently with a Group of Ministers (GoM) that will take a final view on the matter, official sources told TOI.

The bill proposes the establishment of a national anti-trafficking bureau, which shall be entrusted with the gamut of issues aimed at controlling and tackling the menace under various forms. These include coordination, monitoring and surveillance of illegal movement of persons and their prevention. The bureau will also be entrusted with increasing cooperation and coordination with authorities concerned and organisations in foreign countries for strengthening operational and long-term intelligence for investigation of trafficking cases, and driving in mutual legal assistance.

Listing out the ‘aggravated forms of trafficking’, the bill speaks about offences such as forced labour, or bonded labour, by using violence, intimidation, inducement, promise of payment of money, deception or coercion. Also, it mentions trafficking after administering any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance or alcohol, or for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage.

The aggravated form also includes trafficking for the purpose of begging or forcing those who are mentally ill or are pregnant. “Whoever commits the offence of aggravated form of trafficking of a person shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years, but which may extend to life imprisonment and shall be liable to fine that shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh,” the bill proposes.

For repeat offenders, it suggests imprisonment for life “which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life”, apart from a fine that will not be less than Rs 2 lakh.

As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), human trafficking numbers rose by almost 20% in 2016 against the previous year. NCRBsaid there were 8,132 human trafficking cases last year against 6,877 in 2015, with the highest number of cases reported in West Bengal (44% of cases), followed by Rajasthan (17%).

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Of the 15,379 victims who were caught in trafficking, 10,150 were female and 5,229 males. NCRB said the purpose of trafficking included forced labour; sexual exploitation for prostitution; other forms of sexual exploitation; domestic servitude; forced marriage; child pornography; begging; drug peddling; and removal of organs. It is believed that the numbers recorded by NCRB are a far cry to actual incidences of trafficking as many cases went unreported with many people still unaware of the crime or lacking confidence to seek police help.

For those engaging in ‘buying or selling’ a person, the bill proposes rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than seven years which can be extended to 10 years with a fine upwards of Rs 1 lakh. The bill also seeks punishment for those engaging in trafficking with the help of media, including print, internet, digital or electronic. It stipulates a punishment of not less than seven years which can go up to 10 years and a fine not less than Rs 1 lakh.

“Whoever distributes or sells or stores, in any form in any electronic or printed form showing incidence of sexual exploitation, sexual assault or rape for the purpose of extortion or for coercion of the victim or his/her family members, or for unlawful gain, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but may extend to seven years.”

Apart from the national bureau, the bill also aims at having state-level anti-trafficking officers who shall also provide relief and rehabilitation services through district units and other civil-society organisations.
The bill also spells out measures towards relief and rehabilitation for the victims of trafficking, and seeks the formation of a committee for this purpose. The committee is proposed to be headed by the women & child development secretary and would have members from the ministries of home; external affairs; labour and employment; social justice and empowerment; panchayati raj; and heath and family welfare.

Young woman and toddler daughter sold for Rs 2 lakh, two people arrested

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A 28-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter were allegedly sold in a human trafficking racket which originated from a flower shop near a Bhopal temple, discovered the police.

While the woman was sold for Rs 1.5 lakh to a 55-year-old widower farmer Sumer Gurjar in the dense forests of Malawar, her daughter was sold for Rs 50,000 to a beggar Gangaram (35) in the neighbouring Vidisha district, said the police.

The flower seller was allegedly paid an advance of Rs 10,000 by Gurjar and the remaining Rs 40,000 was to be paid in ten monthly instalments of Rs 4,000 each, claimed the police.

After being trafficked, the woman was imprisoned by Gurjar in a room, where he allegedly routinely raped her and forced her to work as labourer in agricultural fields under watchful eyes of armed guards.

The woman is a native of Khandwa district (280 km from Bhopal) and had been living with her daughter and maternal aunt in the Mother India Colony since being divorced by her husband four years ago. She used to earn a living working as daily wage labourer and also used to beg at railway stations, places of worship and traffic signals.

The incident came to light when the woman’s sister recently reported to Shahjahanabad police that her sister and toddler niece had been missing since August 2017. The subsequent probe led the police to flower seller Ranjit, who upon thorough interrogation allegedly confessed knowing the woman through a friend.

Additional SP (ASP-Bhopal Zone) Rajesh Bhadouria told the New Indian Express, “Two of the five accused include Ranjit, who runs a flower shop near the Kali Temple in Bhopal’s Talaiya area and the beggar Gangaram to whom the toddler girl was sold. It’s also suspected that Gangaram’s live-in partner in Vidisha district could have been trafficked from Rajasthan.

“Entire operation by six teams of city police which included female cops started on Thursday and spanned over 72 hours. Three remaining accused, including rich farmer Sumer Gurjar and his father and the middleman in Bhopal identified as Shanu are yet to be arrested,” he added.

The accused, including the arrested duo, have been booked under IPC Sections 363A (kidnapping or maiming a minor for begging), 366 (kidnapping or inducing a woman to compel marriage, etc), 376 (rape) and 370 (human trafficking).

According to the Crime in India 2016, a report released by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), a total of 51 cases of human trafficking were reported in MP during 2016. A total 120 persons (66 males and 54 females) were trafficked, out of which 97 were aged below 18 years (62 males and 32 females) and 23 aged above 18 years (4 males and 19 females). Also, total 4817 victims (1595 males and 3222 females) were rescued from traffickers.

Police Raid Brothel, Find Man’s Skeleton Dumped By Racket Queen 13 Years Ago

The police arrested the woman, Sarita Bharti, 37, under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act for running a prostitution racket, and rescued four women on December 4 from her house in Dandipada in Boisar

The police in Maharashtra’s Boisar have recovered the skeleton of a man from a water closet (WC) inside a brothel owned by a woman.

Deputy superintendent of police Fatesingh Patil said the police arrested the woman, Sarita Bharti, 37, under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act for running a prostitution racket, and rescued four women on December 4 from her house in Dandipada in Boisar.

During the probe, the police learnt that she had killed her husband Sahdeo Bharti 13 years ago, and buried the body in the same house.

“On Tuesday night, we have received information that Sarita is not only involved in the sex racket, but she had also killed several people, including her husband,” said senior inspector Kiran Kabadi from Boisar police station told Mid-Day.

When a police team dug up the floor of the house, they found a skeleton inside a pit, reported PTI. It was sent to forensic laboratory for examination.

Sarita further revealed that she killed her husband by hitting him on the head while he was asleep. The reason behind the murder is not clear yet. Our investigations are on,” Kabadi added.

 

Pact to eliminate child labour

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Childhood lost: Child workers in Bhubaneswar on Monday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

The civic body will collaborate with the labour and ESI department to eliminate child labour in the city in line with the state government’s guidelines.

The plan was made after the government had furnished action points for each department. The housing and urban development department subsequently asked all urban local bodies in the state to take action accordingly.

The department has also issued special measures for the municipal corporations of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.

The civic bodies, while issuing trade licences, will take into account that no business establishment engages children as part of their labour force.

Besides, the labour department will organise sensitisation and awareness campaigns against the employment of children for mayors, councillors, municipal commissioners and field functionaries to help them understand the importance of the initiative.

“We have issued orders with action points to municipalities and municipal corporations to undertake various programmes for elimination of child labour,” said a housing and urban development official.

Local authorities of the twin cities will also enhance the standard of living, health and nutrition of children in slums and ensure regular health check-ups, medical care, quality education, recreation, vocational training and quality of community life.

They will also ensure that schools provided free and compulsory education to all the rescued working children irrespective of their age.

Bhubaneswar mayor Ananta Narayan Jena said first they would have to check how many such children were engaged in work.

“We are already conducting various programmes to uplift the lifestyle of slum-dwellers. We are committed to eliminate child labour from the city,” he said.

 

Crime against children up by 300% in recent years, says NCPCR chairperson

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The deeper analysis shows that in crime rate a substantial increase has taken place between 2009 and 2015 due to marriage of minor girls, kidnapping and abduction and selling of minors for prostitution.
Rescued victims of Trafficking at Sahyog Village “Home For Childern” in Jharkhand.

Rescued victims of Trafficking at Sahyog Village “Home For Childern” in Jharkhand. (HT file photo for representation)

Stating that crimes against children in India have increased by almost 300% in a span of six years since 2009, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Stuti Kacker on Saturday said a multi-sectoral action plan is needed to combat child trafficking.

“The National Crime Record Bureau suggests that there is a rise in crime against children since 2009. The number of incidents rose from 24,203 in 2009 to 92,172 in 2015, resulting an increase of almost 300% in a span of six years,” Kacker said in a written statement read out in absentia at the ‘Anti-Human Trafficking’ conference here organised by Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre.

“The deeper analysis shows that in crime rate a substantial increase has taken place between 2009 and 2015 due to marriage of minor girls, kidnapping and abduction and selling of minors for prostitution,” she said.

Kacker also revealed that the number of trafficking victims among children have also significantly increased in recent years.

“NCRB data suggest that a total of 9,104 children were trafficked in 2015 which is a 27 percent increase over 2014. This includes both trafficking within the country and cross border trafficking. The estimate indicates that over 60 per cent of total human trafficking is of the children,” she said.

Kacker suggested an action plan in the country to address issues like poverty, unemployment and economic and gender disparity that are major reasons of any form of human trafficking.

“The causes of global child trafficking are varied and complex but it includes poverty, lack of opportunity, economic disparity, land demarcation, increased gender discrimination and discriminatory cultural practices,” she said.

“We need to protect our children from violence and crime to identify and close the gap that enables the traffickers a scope and formulate a multi sectoral action plan for combating child trafficking,” she added.

 

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.