New lease of life for former trafficking victims

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Thirteen rescued women underwent a one-month skill-training programme under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.

Thirteen rescued women underwent a one-month skill-training programme under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Trained to perform the role of unarmed security guards

Thirteen former victims of trafficking who were rescued in New Delhi have been trained to perform the role of unarmed security guards, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) announced on Monday.

Special project

The rescued women underwent a one-month skill-training programme as part of a special project under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), the corporation added.

The 13 women were rescued from G.B. Road, the Capital’s infamous red light area, by the Delhi Police’s Special Police Unit for Women and Children (SPUWAC), an NSDC official said.

Viable professions

Juvenile Justice Committee Chairperson Justice Mukta Gupta said the objective of the special project was to provide support and skill-training to disadvantaged women and find viable professions for them.

Positive development

Human trafficking is serious issue. We believe the NSDC’s special projects will encourage other victims to come forward and find opportunities for better livelihood. Through this transformational programme, we seek to achieve substantial impact on the lives of these women,” Justice Gupta added.

After they were rescued, the 13 women were provided shelter at Nirmal Chhaya complex, a home for the destitute, where they were counselled to manage their aggression and seek the path towards positive development. The women were later shifted to a home in Dwarka for their protection and away from threats from their former agents.

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Manipur police arrest three Rohingyas at Indo-Myanmar border

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The two man (Rohingiya) confessed to have earlier involved in trafficking of Rohingiya girls with the help of a local man from Imphal West district to different parts of the world including India, added the SP.

The arrested individuals are believed to have entered into India from Bangladesh through Tripura. 

A joint team of Manipur police and CID, arrested three Rohingyas including a woman from Indo-Myanmar border town of Moreh, Tengnoupal district on Sunday. The Rohingyas were rounded up by the joint team on Saturday night around 8.30 pm from Muslim Basti ward no. 5 in Moreh, while taking refuge in the house of a local resident. The arrested Rohingyas hail from Baguna, the crisis ridden Rakhine state of Myanmar. The two arrested men have been identified as Md Saifullah, 34 and Md Salam, 25 while the woman is identified as Toiba Haut alias Nargis, 20, daughter of Abu Subiya.

“Following reliable information that some Rohingyas from Myanmar are staying at Muslim Basti with trafficked girls from foreign country to engage them in prostitution by inducement and force, the combined team rushed to the said area under my supervision and picked up two Rohingiya along with a woman”, said Dr S Ibomcha Singh, Superintendent of Police Tengnoupal district.

As per the finding of preliminary investigation, it has been established that Toiba Hatu was a victim of human trafficking while the two male associates were the traffickers, said the SP. The two man (Rohingiya) confessed to have earlier involved in trafficking of Rohingiya girls with the help of a local man from Imphal West district to different parts of the world including India, added the SP.

Md Saifullah, reportedly possessed an Adhaar card and a card issued by United Nation High Commissioners for Refugees but Salam and Toiba Haitu did not possessed any valid documents. Despite having valid document, Saifullah was booked under trafficking act along with Salam while the woman was booked under Foreigners act for not possessing any valid documents.

The three arrested individuals are believed to have entered into India from Bangladesh through Tripura. Since the Rohingiya refugee crisis erupted in Myanmar, the border area of Manipur have been put on alert particularly at Indo-Myanmar border Moreh and Manipur-Assam border.

The Manipur police up till now have arrested 6 Rohingiyas from Moreh border town alone. The last arrest was made on March 22, wherein three Rohingiya were arrested by a combined team. They are currently lodged in a jail in Imphal.

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.

Rajeshwari

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

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

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.