NCW set to propose legalisation of sex trade, Centre expresses displeasure

IBN LIVE

New Delhi: The National Commission for Women (NCW) is set to propose legalisation of sex trade to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court but according to sources the Women & Child Development ministry isn’t in favour the idea.

Ever since the news of the National Commission for Women’s deciding to propose legalizing sex trade before a Supreme Court constituted panel, a debate has been raging. In the dark dingy lanes of Delhi’s infamous red light area, GB road, it’s always been business as usual.

It’s unclear how many of these women opt into the flesh trade… and how many are forced into it by others – But an overwhelming majority seemed to back the idea of legalising prostitution.

“If it’s legalised then we won’t get harrased by police..we would have the rights to file a complaint against a customer ,” said a sex worker but there’s also a huge segment against this, “traffickers were get emboldened – rehabilitate us, don’t legalise it,” said another sex worker.

Some members of the SC appointed panel too have their reservations. Making brothels legal will make them vulnerable, we are against any move to legalise prostitution, said president of Shakti Vahini Ravi Kant. .

While the NCW chief who made headlines with her statements supporting legalisation, has suddently gone mum on the issue, “Won’t comment on sex workers issue,” said Laitha.

Women’s groups too are deeply divided, Shabnam Khan said, “It’s a good move provided they get all facilities like helath care etc.”

While women & child ministry hasn’t commented on the issue yet – A delegation of members of women’s groups in India met NCW chairperson and submitted a memorandum urging it to go in for a national-level consultation with all sections on the matter.

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Court raps cops for shielding brothel owners

TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: A trial court has pulled up Delhi Police for “shielding” and not tracing owners of brothels in G B Road and directed the commissioner to ensure action against those involved in human trafficking and prostitution racket.

The court’s direction came following the acquittal of a woman of charges of forcing girls into prostitution and abetting rape.

“A bare perusal of chargesheet of the present case and all other cases of similar nature of police station Kamla Market clearly show the obvious inaction (against brothels) on the part of the investigation agency (in order) to shield the real culprits, who may in fact be running the entire racket of human trafficking and prostitution in the area, within their knowledge,” additional sessions judge Kaveri Baweja said.

“I deem it necessary to direct that a copy of this judgment be sent to the commissioner of police, who shall ensure that needful is done in chargesheets in future so that offence of human trafficking and prostitution can be curbed by roping in the perpetrators,” Baweja said.

The court acquitted Pushpa, resident of G B Road, as the victim was not traceable and other prosecution witness failed to support its case.

Traffickers pushing girls as house helps

HINDUSTAN TIMES

Faizan Haider & Mallica Joshi, New Delhi, July 23, 2012

In a dilapidated ‘placement agency’ in Delhi’s Kotla Mubarakpur, the fate of an 11-year-old girl is being sealed. “She can wash, sweep and cook. She is hardworking and will not give you any trouble. If she does, you can come back for a replacement,” says an agent who fixes deals, selling hundreds of minor girls as domestic helps every year.

In return, all that’s required is a one-time fee of Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 2,500 per month thereafter. What’s not required is the girl’s consent. According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau, while trafficking of minor girls has increased, the number of girls being sold and bought for prostitution has gone down. Instead, leading NGOs claim that trafficked minors are being increasingly employed as domestic helps.

“In 2011, 862 cases of trafficking were reported in comparison to 679 in 2010 – an increase of 27%. During the same period, selling and buying of girls for prostitution decreased by 13.1% and 65.4% respectively,” said a police officer.

Money, it seems, is the driving force behind this shift. “Out of the 325 children rescued by us in 2011, 162 were working as domestic helps. An agent earns between Rs. 5,000- Rs. 10,000 for selling a girl to a brothel, while he can get a commission of at least Rs. 20,000 if he sells her to a household,” said Rishi kant, executive director of NGO Shakti Vahini.

Girls, mostly in the age group of 10 to 15, are smuggled by organised gangs from Jharkhand. After speaking to several placement agencies, Hindustan Times found that the price range and age of domestic helps can be negotiated, with agents even willing to come home and talk.

The Delhi government is yet to enact a law that makes registration of placement agencies mandatory. A survey by NGOs of the 2300-odd agencies in the city revealed that only 364 of them were registered under the Commercial Establishment Act.

(Inputs from Neelam Pandey)

Trafficked girl rescued

TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: A minor girl was rescued from south Delhi after she alleged that she was sexually and physically assaulted by a trafficker. The girl was produced before Child Welfare Committee, which asked Delhi Police to register a case. The 17-year-old girl is a native of Tony Soong village, Darjeeling. On Tuesday, she was rescued by cops and NGO Shakti Vahini from Vasant Gaon, where she was provided temporary shelter by a Nepali family. “The girl was brought to Delhi four months ago on the pretext of marriage. The girl was being sexually and physically assaulted by the trafficker at Munirka,” said the CWC order. “To save her life, the girl ran away and was given protection by a family in Vasant Gaon,” the order adds. CWC noted that the girl was duped by a friend who gave her the number of one Satyanarayan from Siliguri. “According to the minor, her friend had given her the number of Satyanarayan. She left Darjeeling and went to Siliguri alone. After meeting Satyanarayan, they came to Delhi,” the order said. “The girl along with Satyanarayan was living in Munirka. After a week, Satyanarayan started exploiting her physically and sexually.” the order further stated.

TIMES OF INDIA

Meeting of Central Advisory Committee on Combating Trafficking held

Convergence of Initiatives of Centre, States, and NGOs Stressed upon

A meeting of the Central Advisory Committee (CAC) on Combating Trafficking was held here today. Smt. Neela Ganagadharan, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development chaired the meeting.

Drawing attention to the growing problem of trafficking in the country, the Secretary said that the menace can be effectively handled through convergence of efforts of the Centre, States and civil society organizations. She mentioned that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Bill 2012, which has been passed by the Parliament, will go a long way in combating this problem due to the provisions included in the Bill, which link trafficking with protecting children from sexual offenses. She stated that sufficient legislative and programmatic framework exists to prevent and combat trafficking. Whereas the framework for prevention, protection and penalization is in place, strengthening of systems for their effective implementation is needed to combat this problem, the Secretary noted. Measures of the Ministry of Women and Child Development are supplemented by measures taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Labour Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs, and the States/UTs. She also stated that the efforts of the civil society organizations, many of whom have been working extensively in this area, have helped to combat the problem. She invited suggestions and recommendations from the representatives of the Central and State governments, UNICEF, NGOs and other experts to strengthen the legislative and monitoring measures to combat trafficking. This is the first time when the Women and Child Development departments in the States have been asked to coordinate with the nodal Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) for convergence of initiatives for prevention of trafficking, rescue and rehabilitation.

Elaborating on the initiatives taken up by the WCD Ministry to combat trafficking, the Secretary state that the Ujjwala Scheme was launched in 2008, which is a comprehensive scheme to prevent and combat trafficking, where funds and support is provide to agencies which work in the areas of prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and repatriation of victims of trafficking. Since 2008, 188 Ujjwala projects across 19 states have been sanctioned. She however noted that the States need to be more pro-active to involve the NGOs for ensuring effective implementation of the Scheme. The Secretary stated that the Ministry of WCD is planning to introduce videoconferencing for sanctioning of Ujjwala projects. Participation of the Secretary, Department of WCD in the States will help to ensure participation and increased involvement of State Government in Ujjawala projects.

The Ministry of WCD also made a presentation on the actions taken since the last meeting of the CAC in May 2011. The Ministry is formulating better monitoring mechanism of the Ujjwala scheme. It has asked States to involve district level officers for more effective monitoring. Evaluation study of the scheme has been entrusted to the Programme Evaluation Organisation of the Planning Commission which will review the components of the scheme and make recommendations.

Addressing the meeting, Smt. B. Bhamathi, Additional Secretary, MHA said that several initiatives have been taken by the MHA to combat domestic and cross-border trafficking. Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) have been set up in many States and equipped with infrastructure to assist the States in their efforts. Advisories have been issued to the States from time to time regarding diverse aspects of the trafficking problem. Representative from the Labour Ministry apprised the gathering on the schemes taken up for welfare of working children in areas of high concentration of child labour, schemes for bonded labour and those taken up for generating awareness regarding child labour.

Member Secretary, NCPCR, Sh. Lov Verma was also present during the meeting. Representatives from the department of WCD and police from Assam, Maharashtra, AP, Haryana, New Delhi, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and West Bengal were also present. Members of several NGOs working in the area of combating trafficking shared their experience regarding this, and made several recommendations to strengthen the coordination between the field level government and police functionaries.

The Central Advisory Committee (CAC) on Combating Trafficking was formed in 1994 with the Secretary, Ministry of WCD as the chairperson. It is the outcome of the Supreme Court Judgment in Vishal Jeet vs Union of India wherein the Supreme Court had directed that a Committee be formed at the Central and State levels to look into the issues of trafficking particularly child trafficking. Gradually the mandate of CAC has grown and it has been expanded to include representatives from all agencies concerned, thereby becoming a forum facilitating interaction between stakeholders to understand issues relating to trafficking and to evolve strategies for combating it.

Ministry of Home Affairs Issues Advisory on preventing and combating human trafficking in India – dealing with foreign nationals

MOST IMMEDIATE
No. 14051/14/2011-F.VI
Government of India
Ministry of Home Affairs
(Foreigners Division)
Dated 1st May, 2012

OFFICE MEMORANDUM

Sub:  Advisory on preventing and combating human trafficking in India – dealing with foreign nationals.

The undersigned is directed to refer to this Ministry’s Office Memorandum No. 15011/6/2009-ATC (Advisory) dated 09.09.2009 on the above mentioned subject (copy enclosed). It has come to the notice of this Ministry that foreign nationals are associated in some instances of human trafficking among women and children.

2. Further to the detailed procedure outlined in the above mentioned Office Memorandum, it has been decided with the approval of the competent authority that in cases of foreign nationals who are apprehended in connection with human trafficking, the State Governments / UT Administrations may follow the following procedure : –

 (i) Immediately after a foreign national is apprehended on charges of human trafficking, a detailed interrogation/investigation should be carried out to ascertain whether the person concerned is a victim or a trafficker.

(ii) The victims and the persons actually involved in human trafficking should be treated differently by the police authorities. This is in line with the SAARC Convention which advocates a victim-centric approach.

(iii)  Missions/Posts in India may be informed of the arrest/detention of the foreign national by the concerned state or other authorities through CPV division in the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) or the concerned territorial Division in MEA.

 (iv)  It is seen that in general, the foreign victims of human trafficking are found without valid passport or visa. If, after investigation, the woman or child is found to be a victim, she should not be prosecuted under the Foreigners Act. If the investigation reveals that she did not come to India or did not indulge in crime out of  her own free will, the State Government / UT Administration may not file a charge sheet against the victim.  If the chargesheet has already been filed under the Foreigners Act and other relevant laws of the land, steps may be taken to withdraw the case from prosecution so far as the victim is concerned.  Immediate action may be taken to furnish the details of such victims to the Ministry of External Affairs (Consular Division), Patiala House, New Delhi so as to ensure that the person concerned is repatriated to the country of her origin through diplomatic channels.

(v)     During the interim period, pending repatriation, the victim may be taken care of in an appropriate children’s home, or “Ujjawala” home or appropriate shelter home either of the State Government concerned or of any NGO aided by the Government of India / State Government.

(vi)    If the investigation reveals that the person is actually a trafficker, he/she may be charge-sheeted under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act and the Foreigners Act and due process of law should be followed in such cases.

 (vii)    In order to ensure better conviction rates of perpetrators of the crime of trafficking, prosecution should be based on documentary, forensic and material evidence.  State Governments are advised to encourage the law enforcement agencies to investigate the cases in a manner that they are able to build fool proof cases against the traffickers, so that convictions can be guaranteed.  Use of fast-track courts and video conferencing to the extent possible also need to be ensured.  Please refer to para 7 of the enclosed Advisory dated 9.9.2009.

3.      All other instructions contained in this Ministry’s Advisory dated 09.09.2009 including reporting to the Anti Human Trafficking Nodal Cell in MHA will be applicable in the case of foreign nationals associated with human trafficking, whether they are women or children(children means both boys and girls upto 18 years of age).

4.      You are requested to issue suitable directions to all concerned under intimation to this Ministry.

5.      The receipt of this Office Memorandum may kindly be acknowledged.

(G.V.V. Sarma)
Joint Secretary to the Govt. of India

To
The Chief Secretaries/Principal Secretaries/ Secretary (Home) of all State Governments and Union Territory Administrations.
Copy for information and necessary action to:-
(i)  The DGs / IGs (In-charge of Prisons) /- All State Governments/ UTs
(ii)  Sri Sandeep Goel, Joint Commissioner(Crime), 3rd Floor, Police Station Kamla Market, Delhi.
(iii)  Ministry of Women and Child Development(Smt. Aditi Ray, Senior Economic Advisor), Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi.
(iv)  Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Shram Shakti Bhavan, New Delhi
(v)   Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shastri Bhavan, New Delhi.
(vi)  Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Akbar Bhavan, New Delhi.
(vii)  Ministry of External Affairs:
(a) Addl. Secretary(PV)     (b) JS(Consular)          (c)  JS(BSM)
(viii) Chairperson, National Commission for Women, 4, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, New Delhi.
(ix)  Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, 5th Floor, Chandralok Building, Janpath, New Delhi.
(x)  Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi.
(xi)  Director General, NCRB, R.K.Puram, New Delhi.
(xii)  Director General, BPR&D, New Delhi.
(xiii) Director General, Border Security Force, New Delhi.
(xiv)  Director, CBI, New Delhi..
(xv)   AS(CS) / JS(CS) / JS(UT) / JS(NE) / JS(K), MHA, North Block, New Delhi.

(G.V.V. Sarma)
Joint Secretary to the Govt. of India

Apparel exports sector working to remove ‘child labour’ taint

India‘s $14-billion apparel export sector and the Textiles Ministry have begun an initiative to help manufacturers focus on good work practices and prevention of child and trafficked/forced labour. This is part of their efforts to improve India’s image as an ‘ethical sourcing destination’. Significantly, the development follows blacklisting of the sector by countries such as the US and multinational chains (such as Gap Inc, Walmart, Tesco, H&M, Mothercare, C&A and Primark) on the grounds of products being made in units using forced / bonded / child labour.

For instance, the US Department of Labour continues to include India’s apparel export sector under its ‘Executive Order 13126′ List on the “Prohibition of Acquisition of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labour.”The sector was also listed in the US Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorisation Act meant to combat forced / child labour in foreign countries. The EU also has norms against export of products made using child/forced labour. The US and the EU account for 80 per cent of India’s apparel exports.

In a bid to remove the taint, the Apparel Export Promotion Council has started implementing a pilot programme called ‘DISHA’, or Driving Industry towards Sustainable Human capital Advancement. The Textile Ministry is the main funding source for the DISHA programme.Efforts began on Thursday to constitute a stakeholder forum including international organisations, NGOs, trade unions, third-party accreditation agencies, brands, retailers, buying houses and multi-stakeholder institutions.Such a forum will then come out with a ‘code of ethics’ to prevent child/forced labour and help the sector adopt international best practices, and further to grant certificates for units complying with ethical norms.

The other priority areas of DISHA include ensuring freedom of association in the sector, proper wages and benefits, compliance with all the relevant laws and social justice norms. Around 134 units have so far enrolled for DISHA certification, and 68 units have given their Letter of Intent to comply with the norms. Besides, Self Assessment Tool (SAT) workshops have been conducted for 51 units in Tirupur, Jaipur, Ludhiana and the National Capital Region around Delhi.

The Textiles Ministry has given an allocation of around Rs 6 crore for the first year (2011-12) of the programme, during which it will cover 400 units across the country based on a cluster approach.

arun.s@thehindu.co.in