Human trafficking worry for Sundargarh

Published in The Telegraph

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Rourkela : The return of two married women, aged 24 and 36, from Saudi Arabia has brought women’s trafficking in the district to the fore again.

“Our study suggests that the situation is not encouraging,” said Rajendra Behera, chief co-ordinator of Pragati, which works for the rescue of trafficked women.

“We did an exhaustive study in 11 blocks out of 17 in the district and concluded that more than 13,000 women from different age groups are missing,” he said. Between 43,000 and 44,000 women across age groups have been trafficked between 2002-14 from the district, the study showed.

The women returned home on Sunday and narrated their ordeal. The Tarkera residents claimed that a neighbour and his family members had sold them off in Saudi Arabia for a hefty sum. Their employers kept them in confinement and physically and mentally abused them, the duo alleged.

Abul Kalam Azad of Childline at Bisra had rescued a 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl two years ago and returned her to her parents. He said: “These women are sexually abused both by the middleman and the employer.”

He said there was also an increase in the number of unwed mothers. Citing statistics, he said: “In the past six months, I have received 63 unwanted children either at my doorstep or from different places.” Most of them were found in remote jungle or far-off areas, said Azad. He found that most of these children belonged to those women who had been trafficked.

“The maximum trafficking takes place between the 14-18 and 19-25 age groups at 41 and 38 per cent respectively,” said Behera. His study also revealed that apart from poverty and the search for greener pastures, the glamour of bigger cities also lured many women into the traffickers’ traps.

Sundargarh district superintendent of police Pinaki Mishra agreed with Behera.

Most of the traffickers are also known to the women. They are either relatives or neighbours. “And when the girl does not return for a long time, the relative goes missing,” said Behera.

Mishra admitted that despite human trafficking being a major problem in the district, inadequate manpower forced police actions to go for preventive drive than going on the offensive. “We have written to the government for help with more manpower,” he said.

He also plans awareness drives, and creating a data bank of the blocks affected

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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.

India’s first anti-trafficking bill likely to get cabinet nod soon

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In a first, the draft bill piloted by the Union women and child development ministry treats a trafficked person who gets into prostitution as a victim rather than offender.
The draft bill also recommends the creation of an anti-trafficking fund and new identities for victims.

The draft bill also recommends the creation of an anti-trafficking fund and new identities for victims.(Getty Images/Vetta)

The Union cabinet could soon consider and approve the country’s first anti-human-trafficking law, according to a senior government official familiar with the matter.

The law, two years in the making, proposes punishment of up to 14 years for traffickers, measures to rehabilitate victims, and the mandatory registration of placement agencies that recruit and place domestic helps, said the official who asked not to be identified.

In a first, the draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017, piloted by the Union women and child development (WCD) ministry, treats a trafficked person who gets into prostitution as a victim rather than offender.

In the existing law, there is no distinction between the trafficked person and the trafficker. Both are treated as criminals, punishable with jail terms of up to seven years.

The draft bill also recommends the creation of an anti-trafficking fund and new identities for victims.

Around 8,100 cases of trafficking were recorded in India in 2016, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. The data show around 23,000 victims of trafficking were rescued that year.

Experts say that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with the actual numbers of people trafficked being much higher.

The proposed bill was held up over objections of the Union home ministry to a separate law on trafficking. The ministry wanted to amend the existing provisions of the Indian Penal Code to address trafficking cases.

However, the home ministry finally conceded to a separate law after the WCD ministry agreed to its demand to allow investigating agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate trafficking cases.

In an earlier version of the draft, the WCD ministry had proposed the creation of a new agency to handle trafficking cases. The home ministry argued against this on the grounds that existing agencies are well equipped to handle such cases, which often involve money laundering and are sometimes related to terrorism.

“The WCD ministry has agreed to our proposal to allow existing agencies to probe trafficking cases. We are fine with a separate law,” said a senior home ministry official who didn’t wish to be named.

The draft law also makes giving hormones and drugs to trafficked young girls to accelerate sexual maturity and forcing them into prostitution a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.

It also proposes to make registration of placement agencies that recruit and place domestic helps mandatory. Failure to register with the state authorities will invite a fine of Rs 50,000.

Currently, there is no single law dealing with human trafficking and the crime is covered under different acts administered by at least half-a-dozen ministries, including WCD, home, labour, health, Indian overseas affairs and external affairs. More often than not, this results in lax enforcement.

Man, wife arrested for trying to sell 16-year-old at GB Road

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PUBLISHED IN INDIAN EXPRESS

Mohammad Kalam (25), a resident of Lucknow, would randomly dial phone numbers — and usually find elderly men or children on the receiving side. In October, he dialed a number and a young girl in Kanpur picked up. Over the next two months, Kalam befriended the 16-year-old. They would make video calls and even though Kalam was married, he managed to lure the girl to Lucknow on the pretext of marriage. When she came to meet him, he and his wife allegedly confined her to a room.

Kalam, an alleged sex trafficker, first tried to ‘sell’ the girl in Lucknow and Mumbai. He then came to Delhi to ‘sell’ her at GB Road. On Thursday, police arrested Kalam while he was walking around the area, allegedly looking for a customer.

“A policeman in plainclothes found that he was trying to ‘sell’ a minor. He bargained with the accused before ‘settling’ at Rs 2,20,000 as the final price. He also managed to identify the minor through a photograph. He then asked Kalam to meet him at a decided location, from where he was arrested by a police team,” an officer said.

His wife, Shaheen alias Muskaan, was arrested from a rented house near Jama Masjid. Police also rescued the girl from the house. During questioning, Kalam said he told the girl he would marry her, and asked her to meet him. When she found that he was already married, he told her he would marry her as well and keep her happy. “She stayed with the couple for a month in a room in Lucknow,” a police officer said.

Police said the accused tried to employ her as a prostitute at a highway in Uttar Pradesh and at a dance bar in Lucknow. The girl refused, following which he decided to sell her at GB Road, police said .

On contacting her family, police found that her relatives had registered a missing person complaint at the local police station, which was later converted into a kidnapping case. “The girl will be produced before the Child Welfare Commission, where her statement will be recorded. Her parents are on their way to meet her,” the officer said.

Crimes against women at alarming levels in Bengal

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The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on crimes against women, including trafficking in West Bengal, have shown alarming highs.

What happened?

The NCRB report for 2016, which was released on November 30, 2017, recorded 283 incidents and 307 victims under Section 326A (acid attack) and Section 326B (attempt to carry out an acid attack) in the country. Of these, West Bengal recorded 76 incidents of such attacks and about 83 victims, accounting for 26% of all incidents and 27% of victims. Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country with almost double the population of West Bengal, recorded 57 incidents and 61 victims.

Why can’t it be controlled?

Despite guidelines from the Supreme Court on regulating the sale of acid, there is little monitoring on the ground in West Bengal. While the guidelines ban over-the-counter sale of acid without identity proof, no restrictions have been imposed in rural and semi-urban areas where most of the attacks take place. The easy availability of the corrosive substance has resulted in high incidence of acid attacks in the State, according to the police.

What about other crimes?

Acid attacks are not the only crime directed at women in Bengal. One of the highest contributors of crime against women are cases registered under Section 498A of the IPC (cruelty by husband or his relatives). During 2016, 1,10,434 cases were registered across the country, of which West Bengal recorded 19,305 cases (over 17% of the total cases in the country).

When it comes to human trafficking, West Bengal is not only the highest contributor to the crime but it alone accounts for 44% of all cases nationally. Of the 8,132 cases of human trafficking reported in 2016, West Bengal accounted for 3,579 cases. In terms of missing children, which is related to human trafficking, the State recorded 8,335 cases of children gone missing in 2016. As the State shares a border with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, it has become a transit route in human trafficking. The distress-ridden tea gardens of north Bengal, the remote islands of Sunderbans and the districts of Malda and Murshidabad with poor human development indicators and high density of population serve as ideal source point for traffickers luring young girls on the pretext of jobs or marriage to other States. Some experts say that the number of cases of human trafficking are high as the police are proactive in registering cases of human trafficking and missing children. One of the aims of the Kanyashree Prakalpa launched by the West Bengal government was to curb trafficking by providing conditional cash transfer to school-going girls but the numbers clarify that a lot more needs to be done.

Who is to blame?

West Bengal has been recording a high crime rate against women over the past several years. In 2016, West Bengal ranked second with 32,513 cases of crime against women, contributing 9.6% to all such crimes in the country. Uttar Pradesh with over 17% of the female population of the country — Bengal has 7.5% — accounted for 14.5% of all crimes against women. But despite the high levels of crimes against women, it has failed to garner adequate attention from the authorities. The State government has not taken note of the numbers, and the Opposition too has not raised the issue.

Statutory bodies such as the West Bengal Women’s Commission and the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights have failed to put any system in place by which crimes against women and child trafficking can be arrested. According to non-governmental organisations working in the field, the commissions need to improve victims’ access to legal services and put in place concrete steps that can act as a safety net for women and children. The overall conviction rate for crime against women in India stands at 18.9 %. For West Bengal, the conviction rate is the lowest in the country at 3.3 %.

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.

 

Humanity above religion and guidelines to curb child trafficking

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Uttrakhand HC: Conduct DNA test of child beggars and their parents to prevent child trafficking
The Uttrakhand High Court reversed a trial court’s order and convicted a 30-year-old man on charges of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a minor girl.

The court held him guilty for luring a 15-year-old Nepali girl on the pretext of taking her on a shopping trip to Banbasa in Uttarakhand. The minor girl was then subjected to sexual harassment by the man during their travel, the court held. The man was arrested after a sub-inspector at Shadra Bairaj police station was tipped off about the crime.

While delivering the judgment, the high court passed certain directions for the State to curb human trafficking:

  • Police should verify identity documents of all minor girls coming from Nepal and take contact numbers of their guardians in India and Nepal.
  • Police should book human traffickers under the Money Laundering Act and attach their properties. The police should increase patrolling on borders and human trafficking units should be headed by officers not below the rank of DSP/CO.
  • Since minors are kidnapped and made to beg in India, police should conduct DNA test of the child beggars and people claiming to be their parents. It further directed a ban on begging in the State.
  • State government should constitute a separate wing and set up a photo bank data to trace missing boys and girls, the photo bank should be displayed on the state department’s website and should flashed at bus depots and railway stations by the police.