In the red light areas where there is organized prostitution there is nothing called “consent” or “out of choice”-It is all about exploitation and organized crime which subjugates Women and Children

Ravi Kant President, Shakti Vahini –  Advocate Supreme Court of India

Prostitution in India is controlled by mafia, criminal elements & organized crime syndicates. A close scrutiny of various red light areas across the country prove that it is a crime syndicate which is completely focused on generating high profit for the operators of the sex trade. It uses various form of exploitation to prey upon the victims. The demand for young girls in this trade vigorously fuels the trafficking of minor victims from across the country and neighboring states. There are several cases of sex trafficking of minor girls as well as women which have ended in conviction and closure of brothels. These cases have revealed tales of extreme violence , lurement and entrapment.

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The power dynamics in the red light area or in any place where sexual exploitation takes place is controlled by the organized crime syndicates, money lenders & criminal elements. This is because it is a high profit making business. The profit from exploitation fuels the sex trade. Operators need profit and in order to generate high profit it has to cater to the demand of the people who come and pay for these services. It is a well-established fact that the demand is of young minor girls. As the age of the victim increases the demand for the victim goes down. During the tender years the demand is high and also the revenue generated from the exploitation is also high.

Since the earning capacity of the victims who are controlled by the criminal and organized crime reduces by the age and no of years the victim has been exploited the traffickers loose interest on these women and after years of exploitation many of these women are set free by the brothel owners and are allowed to continue the work independently by paying commissions to the traffickers. In the initial five to ten years the minor victims are forced, exploited and violated by hundreds of men. Their films are made and widely circulated in the internet which generates huge profit for the traffickers.

After years of sexual exploitation, servitude and bondage which may continue for 10-15 years and when the revenue generated from their exploitation goes down they are set free and made partners in the illegal sex trade.

It is a well established fact that high profits and revenues come from the exploitation of minors and new entrants. The business interest of traffickers are more in exploitation of minor victims. In places like the red light areas where there is organized prostitution there is nothing called “consent” or “out of choice”- It is all about exploitation and subjugation of innocent women and children who are trafficked each year from far flung areas of the country.

This is the reason why this exploitation should end. the traffickers are aware on the loopholes of the law. They take the legal process easily and think they can get away with the crime.

It is because of this it is the need of the time that the new comprehensive legislation is passed as soon as possible. the Comprehensive legislation will bring the fear of the law among the traffickers. The law will mandate a national nodal agency to investigate cross border and inter state trafficking cases. It will strengthen investigation of human trafficking cases.The new law will usher in witness protection protocols which is the need of time. It is because of this the traffickers many a times threaten innocent victims and ensure that they testify falsely in the courts. The new legislation will bring in a proper budgeted rehabilitation programme which will help the victims of the organized crime to start life fresh and also end their vulnerability. The proposed legislation will also ensure that property generated out of the exploitation of trafficked victims are confiscated. The proposed legislation will bring in a institutional machinery from the remote districts of the country to the various state capitals and will lead to strengthening of victim response services.

The legalization brigade in India has been spreading misinformation that if the legislation is passed the life of women in prostitution will be made difficult and their livelihoods will be affected and they may be victimized by the police. The supreme court in Budhadev Karmaskar vs State of West Bengal has already clarified that women in prostitution who have been trapped in the trade should not be victimized and only the perpetrators need to be booked and prosecuted.

The women in fact are entitled to rehabilitation which has been missing since the last sixty years. the new legislation will bring in budgeted rehabilitation initiatives which will help lift thousands of trafficked victims live a life of  respect and self dignity.

It is because of this the new proposed legislation which the union cabinet has already approved should become a law as soon as possible . It is the step in Right direction.

Prostitution is Organised Crime and Violation of Fundamental Rights. Trafficking and sexual slavery is worst form of Human Rights Violation. No women joins this inhuman trade out of choice. Amost 100% women have been trafficked and forced into the sex trade.

 Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1956 criminalises the organised crime of Prostitution. Organised Prostitution creates a demand for young girls for the brothels which is met by trafficking of minor girls from across the Country.

Giving Prostitution a legal status will be giving boost to demand of young minor girls who will be trafficked. In countries where such legalization has happened it has led to exploitation of women and girls and also commodification of women bodies.

There here is no doubt that women who have been caught in the sex trade  need access to all Government facilities and schemes and efforts must be made to see that they join the mainstream and are properly rehabilitated. Also those who indulge in this organised crime of human trafficking which leads to kidnapping of young girls from across the country need to be properly punished.

The sad part is that inspite of various recommendations from the Supreme Court in various cases no geniune efforts have been made by any Government to see that this social malice which results from Organised Crime be eradicated.

The Supreme Court in its order dated 26 July 2012  has clarified that its endeavor to provide right to life and access to governmental schemes should not be construed as an encouragement to prostitution.

The clarification had come from a bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Mishra after additional solicitor general P P Malhotra had drawn the court’s attention to its July 19 ,2011 order in which it had sought suggestions from the SC-constituted panel on creating “conditions conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity”. Malhotra had said there was a danger of the order being construed as an incentive to indulge in an activity that had been termed as an offence under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956.

The Judges on the bench passed had passed separate orders, but both meant to clarify that the panel would recommend steps to create “conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity as per provisions of the Constitution Article 21″. 

Justice Kabir added a precautionary clarification — “The above modification should not be construed to mean any attempt made to encourage prostitution.”

Hearing the Petition  Justice Mishra had clarified, “I prefer to add…sex workers have a right to live with dignity but the collective endeavour must be on part of the sex workers to give up the trade in case they are given alternate platform.”

The Detailed Order of the Bench  Dated 26 /07/2012 is as follows :

ORDER

1. While concurring with the views of my learned brother Justice Altamas Kabir, I prefer to add in regard to the second issue that this Court should not be misunderstood to encourage the practice of flesh trade or advocate the recognition of sex trade merely because it has raised the issue to emphasize the rehabilitation aspect of the sex workers, for which this Court had taken the initiative right at the threshold. I consider this essential in order to allay any apprehension which prompted the Union of India to move this application for modification, by highlighting that the sex workers although have a right to live with dignity as the society is aware that they are forced to continue with this trade under compulsions since they have no alternative source of livelihood, collective endeavour should be there on the part of the Court and all concerned who have joined this cause as also the sex workers themselves to give up this heinous profession of flesh trade by providing the destitute and physically abused women an alternative forum for employment and resettlement in order to be able to rehabilitate themselves. I, therefore, wish to reiterate by way of abundant caution that this Court should not be perceived to advocate the recognition of sex trade or promote the cause of prostitution in any form and manner even when it had stated earlier in its terms of reference regarding conditions conducive for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers with dignity.

2. Thus, when we modify the earlier term of reference and state regarding conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution, the same may not be interpreted or construed so as to create an impression or draw inference that this Court in any way is encouraging the sex workers to continue with their profession of flesh trade by providing facilities to them when it is merely making an effort to advocate the cause of offering an alternative source of employment to those sex workers who are keen for rehabilitation. When we say conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity, we unambiguously wish to convey that while the sex workers may be provided alternative source of employment for their rehabilitation to live life with dignity, it will have to be understood in the right perspective as we cannot direct the Union of India or the State Authorities to provide facilities to those sex workers who wish to promote their profession of sex trade for earning their livelihood, except of course the basic amenities for a dignified life, as this was certainly not the intention of this Court even when the term of reference was framed earlier.

3. We, therefore, wish to be understood that we confine ourselves to the efforts for rehabilitation of sex workers which should not be construed as facilitating, providing them assistance or creating conducive conditions to carry on flesh trade for expanding their business in any manner as it cannot be denied that the profession of sex trade is a slur on the dignity of women. Conditions conducive for sex workers to live with dignity in accordance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution be therefore understood in its correct perspective as indicated above.

J (GYAN SUDHA MISRA) New Delhi, July 26, 2012

 

 

 

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Project Swayangsiddha to combat human trafficking, prevent child marriage

IMG_5246West Bengal Police has come up with a project, Swayangsiddha, to combat human trafficking and prevent child marriage. Swayangsiddha’ means ‘self-reliant’. The project envisions empowering young girls and boys, with knowledge and skills so that they are aware, alert, able to make informed choices and are less vulnerable to violation and abuse of their rights.

Swayangsiddha Groups have been formed in schools and colleges with interested students. These groups were formed with students between the ages of 12 and 21 years. The State Government’s Child Protection Committees are monitoring and guiding these groups. In all, 3,862 students have come forward to form the Swayangsiddha Groups, of which 69 per cent are girls and the rest 31 per cent are boys. They are sharing information on human trafficking, child rights, ill effects of child marriage and the important helpline numbers with other students and their neighborhoods. Schools have identified 200 teachers as mentors.

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Part of the project is strengthening the response mechanism to acts of violation of rights in collaboration with police and child protection committees to build safe communities.Strengthening access to schemes and entitlements on education, training, livelihood and food security for vulnerable groups is also an important part of Swayangsiddha.

In this respect, it needs to be mentioned that the internationally-hailed scheme, Kanyashree, a brainchild of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, does provide help in some of these areas to schoolgirls across the state. Kanyashree Clubs have been opened in various places. Now, with Swayangsiddha, those efforts are being strengthened and a wider range of issues are being addressed.

The Project is a brainchild of Shri Chandrashekhar Bardhan Additional SP of Diamond Harbour who initiated this project in 2015.

“The information which has been generated from the Swayangsiddha campaign has also led to the busting of several interstate trafficking gangs said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini”. He added that the campaign has had a very positive impact and has also led to mass awareness on the issue.

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Jharkhand Govt mulls ordinance route for stringent anti-trafficking law

PUBLISHED IN HINDUSTAN TIMES RANCHI

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Jharkhand government is mulling to bring an ordinance to promulgate Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act, which could not be placed in the budget session of the state assembly, as it was curtailed by eight days.

The Act is aimed at effectively countering the menace of human trafficking from Jharkhand, which as per NGOs working in the field see 10,000 girls—mostly minors—trafficked to Delhi and NCR region every year through placement agencies. They eventually end up as domestic servants—tortured and sexually abused in captivity in many cases.

“The draft bill for Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act was ready with all the modifications sought by the governor. But it could not be placed and passed as the assembly session ended before. I will meet chief minister (CM) Raghubar Das in a day or two and request him to bring an ordinance to promulgate the Act to effectively counter the menace of girl and child trafficking and child labour,” Raj Paliwar, state labour minister told the HT over phone.

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Governor Droupadi Murmu had returned the draft bill earlier seeking more stringent provisions. “The earlier draft had penal provision of two-year jail and the governor wanted it to be more stringent. Now, penal provisions have been modified making it seven-year jail term on conviction,” a source said.

Paliwar though refused to get into details of the bill, but said all the modifications sought and suggestion given by the governor have now been accommodated in the draft of the said Act.

“The Act is the need of the hour and our government wants it enacted at the earliest. We have made stringent provisions and hope this will give police and antitrafficking agencies an effective tool to rein in traffickers and illegal placement agencies. We will also launch mass awareness drive,” the minister added.

West Singhbhum superintendent of police (SP) Anish Gupta said a strong law was needed to deal with the fake and illegal placement agencies along with awareness drive so that parents don’t get trapped and send their girls on promise of lucrative jobs.

“Parents need to lodge complaint and a strong law will help in speedy prosecution, effective trial and stringent punishment as a deterrent. There’s also sexual exploitation angle involved and we are imposing POCSO in such cases. We have identified certain placement agencies and traffickers and would launch crackdown against them soon,” Gupta said.

Gupta was the Khunti SP when the massive crackdown against child and girl traffickers was launched in Khunti, with antitrafficking unit in-charge Aradhana Singh alone nabbing 85 traffickers and rescuing about 230 trafficked girls between 2015 and 2017.

However, half of those 85 traffickers are already out on bail even though they were booked under non-bailable sections. “In most cases, the parents of the victims turned hostile with the traffickers and their associates threatening them or paying them money to shut up mouth. There’s no effective law to tackle the placement agencies either,” Aradhana Singh said.

Rishi Kant, founder coordinator of NGO Shakti Vahini, said Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act would be a very effective tool to fight the menace run by about 25,000-30,000 placement agencies in Delhi and NCR, as Delhi government has no

placement agencies Act to regulate and monitor them.

“We alone have rescued over 200 trafficked girls from Jharkhand in Delhi and NCR. About 30-40 girls and underage boys are trafficked from Jharkhand every day. And Delhi police are invariably reluctant to act against these

agencies, traffickers or the families hiring the girls. CM Raghubar Das in 2014 had announced to bring back 50,000 trafficked Jharkhand girls back to the state and rehabilitate them. It’s now for bureaucrats and police to take the initiative,” said Rishi Kant.

HTI

Rescued child sex workers in India reveal hidden cells in brothels

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Anuradha Nagaraj in The Reuters
NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A ladder propped against a stained wall leads up into a dark passage on the second floor of an Indian brothel, lined by a series of locked doors. Hidden inside are tiny cubicles, stashed with sex workers’ clothes, blankets, cosmetics and condoms.

The barely-lit passageway meanders along, intersected by many other dank corridors, and arrives at a trap door, which swings open to reveal another secret space, rarely seen by clients or outsiders.

“They are actually meant to deceive and hide,” one sex worker said quietly. “A person can get lost and then simply disappear.”

Trafficked young girls are being “broken into prostitution” – and hidden from the law – behind a maze of passages and secret cells in crumbling brothels across New Delhi and other major cities, campaigners say.

Of an estimated 20 million commercial prostitutes in India, 16 million women and girls are victims of sex trafficking, according to campaigners.

Thousands of children, largely from poor families, are lured or abducted by traffickers every year, and sold on to pimps and brothels who force them into sexual slavery.

“These tehkhanas (hidden cells) harbour minors and have also become an escape route for them when there are raids,” said Swati Jai Hind, head of the Delhi Commission for Women, which has rescued 57 girls this year.

“We get specific tip-offs about children being brought here but when we come for rescue, we sometimes find no girls – they vanish.”

The government has introduced a number of measures to combat sex trafficking – from strengthening laws to boosting social welfare schemes.

But reports of young girls being sold for sex and hidden in labyrinths are rising, campaigners say.

“There are increasing cases where girls are describing life inside these dark and dirty places,” said Rishi Kant of the anti-slavery charity Shakti Vahini.

“We were part of a rescue where a seemingly regular cupboard led to a hidden passage from where girls were found. Urgent action is needed.”

HIDDEN IN BUNKERS

When policeman Prabir Kumar Ball started investigating a missing persons complaint in West Bengal this year, he thought it was a routine case.

But the search for a teenage girl led him to the brothels of New Delhi and Agra, a popular tourist destination some 200 km (124 miles) south of the capital and home to Taj Mahal.

“The brothels in Agra had bunkers, just like the ones found along international borders,” he said.

“We had to break into them to rescue the girl. We found six others hidden in these bunkers. Rescuing them was like going to war,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ball said the traffickers take girls from West Bengal to Delhi safe houses, then sell them on to brothels in other towns.

The arrest of a couple from Delhi in November dismantled one of the region’s biggest trafficking networks and gave “a rare insight into how bunkers and tunnels are used to hide young girls when police raids happen”, he said.

Many trafficked young girls end up on the congested streets of New Delhi’s largest red light district, known as GB Road.

Dimly lit staircases, next to ground floor hardware stores, lead up to hundreds of multi-storied brothels. Pimps haggle with customers, older women solicit and younger ones watch quietly.

As exchanges are agreed, customers enter the brothels. They are led to small, windowless rooms and the doors are closed.

“Nothing in this place has changed since I was brought here 20 years ago,” a sex worker said as she applied make-up and got ready for clients.

“It was a dirty place when I came and still is. The maze of rooms, the way deals are struck and the plight of the women stuck here is frozen in time.”

More and more survivor testimonies are providing evidence about brothel layouts and the extent of exploitation in them, spurring many agencies to push for their closure.

West Bengal’s child welfare committee ordered the police in May to demolish “hidden places” in GB Road brothels, after listening to the testimony of a rescued girl.

The Delhi Commission for Women has also written to the police and civic authorities, demanding they identify and seal the cells and passages.

“No action has been taken,” said Hind.

“We are working on a database of people who own these brothels and are determined to see they are shut down.”

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 %.

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

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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.

Delhi family to pay Rs 2.18 lakh for employing trafficked woman

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Published In Times Of India

RANCHI: Twenty-five-year-old Anjali (name changed) is excited to return home to her family after five years. She was lured to Delhi by a cousin on the pretext of a job five years ago, but things did not turn up as she had expected.

On reaching Delhi, her cousin sister took her to a placement agency, from where she was placed as domestic help in a household in Pashchim Vihar area. Anjali spent over three years with her employee. She was not only confined inside the house but beaten up brutally. She was neither given any proper food nor paid a single rupee for her work.

The girl was finally rescued by Delhi Police and Shakti Vahini in May last year, following which she was kept in a shelter home in Delhi. The police managed to trace her family and now, Jharkhand police has left for the national capital to bring her home.

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It was only recently that Anjali got to know that her mother had passed away three years ago. Talking to TOI over the phone, Anjali said, “I still cannot believe that I am not going to see my mother again. I wish I had never left. However, I am looking forward to meeting my father and my three siblings after such a long time.”

Meanwhile, the girl’s employers were booked under various sections of Indian Penal Code, mostly grievous hurt, unlawful labour and unlawful confinement. The employers were also booked under the Bonded Labour System (abolition) Act, 1976.

The employers told Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) that they hired the girl from Kamat Placement Agency and paid Rs 22,000 for the first year and Rs 20,000 for the second year to the agency. They admitted that they did not pay any wages to the girl.

The commission has directed the employers to pay a total of Rs 2.18 lakh to the girl as compensation. Once the girl arrives at Chaibasa, her bank account will be opened by the district administration in which the compensation amount will be deposited.