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‘No point in sensationalising’

10 Mar


Crime PatrolDastak, that airs twice a week in a late night slot, has not only completed over 52 weeks in the top 10 chart, but has also become the No 1 show this week. According to the ratings issued by TAM India, the official record keeper for TV viewing in the country, the two-part  episode aired on last Friday and Saturday on Sony Entertainment, showcasing the recent ‘Baby Falak’ case in Delhi and the associated human trafficking issue, scored 6.8 points, leaving popular dailies behind.

Host Anoop Soni gives credit to the show’s director Subramaniam and to the creative and research team that consciously cut down the graphic representation of crimes. “The ratings are overwhelming. But they also point out that we have an ever-increasing audience base, and have to be more cautious about the way we discuss a case study,” he says, adding, “There’s no point in sensationalising. The idea is to narrate a story in a humane manner and understand what leads to a particular crime and how it could have been averted.”

Anoop, who only shoots anchor links for the show, prefers to read the entire screenplay to connect with a story. He also reads newspapers and magazines thoroughly and passes on cases to the show’s two-member research team for consideration. “We can’t end crimes, but circumstances that lead to punishable offences can be changed,” says the actor-anchor, who remembers receiving great feedback for a series on female foeticide cases in India.   “There are thousands of cases we’d like to highlight alongside the role that cops play in cracking them. And trust me, there’s a large chunk of the audience that’s not tuning in for voyeuristic pleasure.”

Crime Patrol’s first season aired from May 2003 to March 2006, followed by season two that ran from January 2010 to June 2010. The third season started in September 2010 and ended in December 2010. The current season flagged off on April 29, 2011. Director Subramaniam, the brain and creative force behind the show, doesn’t know if this season will ever end.

“We’re trying to keep the show newsy. At the same time, we’re trying to keep the grossness levels low because we don’t want to show gruesome crimes too graphically,” he reasons. “We had thought we’d get a little break between these cases. But the good feedback won’t let us do that anytime soon.”


Entertainers or sex slaves? DISTURBING TRENDS FROM PUNJAB

14 Mar

Many young Punjabi girls are being forced into prostitution in the garb of working as dancers or entertainers, reports Riva IN THE TRIBUNE CHANDIGARH

Her dark gloomy eyes reflect her shadowy past, unable to hide her shame and pain. Sitting in a corner of a dark room, Rashmi (name changed) prefers this darkness of a dingy room to bright neon lights and posh hotel rooms. At the young age of 17, Rashmi has already experienced the seamier side of life that lies behind this glam world. Her nightmarish journey into this murky world began in cultured, air-conditioned rooms of five-star hotels and culminated into this innocent teenager becoming as a prostitute.

Women’s trafficking in Punjab is not unheard of. While many young girls from other parts are sneaked into the state to be employed as sex slaves, a large number of Punjabi girls, in the garb of working as performers, are being herded across the borders to do the same job in metropolitan cities of India and Gulf countries like Dubai.

Investigations revealed that many of the musical groups operational in Punjab act as mediators in whisking off young women to Arab countries and other Indian cities for dancing, a euphuism for prostitution.

Trafficking on the rise in Punjab

Trafficking on the rise in Punjab

More than one lakh women are a part of around 5,000 orchestra groups operating in Punjab, though all of them are not involved in prostitution (The faces of the girls have been blurred to protect their identities)

“I had joined a musical group a year back and was promised Rs 500 per show. We performed at music shows, at marriages and other parties, mostly during late evenings. Two months into the job, my employer started asking me to stay back at her house to help her with household chores. Then came a time when I was prohibited to go out or meet my parents without her or her husband’s permission.

“Show or no show, I couldn’t go home. They always had an excuse. One day, they asked me to join them on a three-month tour to Bangalore for a series of Punjabi cultural shows. They offered Rs 15,000 per month for the job. Forced by poor financial circumstances, my parents agreed and I, too, went reluctantly. Only after reaching there did I realise what was my actual work. I was hired by a hotel on Bangalore’s posh MG Road for pleasing its customers for a period of three months. They had signed a contract to this effect with my employer. I was in trouble in a strange land not knowing its language,” narrates Rashmi, while giving details of her harrowing tale.

Rashmi, a good-looking girl of 17, is a resident of Basti Danishmandan in Jalandhar. She left studies after completing Class X and started working with a musical group in the city to supplement her family’s income. After joining the group, she was forced to do menial jobs at the house of her employer and was frequently subjected to torture and abuse for not giving in to their unjust demands. She was also underpaid on the pretext that money had been spent on buying make-up and dress material for her.

Trafficking on the rise in Punjab

Trafficking on the rise in Punjab

But her real nightmare began once she landed in Bangalore. She found herself one among the 50 women present there to pander to the demands of the male customers of the hotel. “The guests, as we called them, would take us out for a movie or shopping They would give us gifts and in return expected to be treated like boyfriends. They could talk anything and we were not supposed to spoil their mood, whatever the provocation,” discloses Rashmi. The 50 women in the hotel had come from different parts of the country and even from as far as Nepal.

Though she hesitates to speak clearly, Rashmi confesses that she was pressurised to do what she obliquely refers to as ‘wrong things’. “We were five girls in that hotel from Jalandhar and I learnt that many more from the city were into the same business in other hotels of Bangalore. In fact, Hindi-speaking girls were at a premium there,” she adds. Anjali Sinha, an activist with NGO Stree Adhikar Sangathan, reveals that there is an inter-state nexus between such ‘gangs’ that recruit innocent girls under the garb of dancing and later push them into prostitution.

“India is in the process of widespread economic and social restructuring because of capitalisation and globalisation, which have changed the social fabric of our society. Everything today is driven by capital. Women and children are increasingly becoming commodities to be bought, sold and consumed by tourists, military personnel, organised crime rings, traffickers, and men seeking sexual entertainment without responsibility,” adds Anjali Sinha.

Though Rashmi has since quit the troupe, many of her friends are still into it and are doing a tour of Dubai at present. When The Tribune spoke to one such girl in Dubai, she confessed that they were actually working as sex slaves, providing entertainment to their ‘guests’ for money and material goods.

“I dance in a hotel bar. In three months, I earn about Rs 2.5 lakh. I dance for about six hours a day, from 6 pm to 12 am. During this time, forget eating, I cannot even drink water without my customer’s permission. If he wants me to drink while dancing, I have to do it`85 I had an inkling about the nature of work here while I was in Bangalore, but still went ahead`85 due to certain compulsions,” discloses Alisha.

Alisha has signed a three-month contract with the hotel. She cannot step out unless her customer pays a stipulated amount to the hotel management. “It is like being literally enslaved`85 trapped in this vicious circle of prostitution and moral degeneration`85 I cannot escape since I am the only bread-winner for my family, back in India`85” she sobs.

“Once trapped in the quagmire of flesh trade, escape is very unlikely. It’s like a never-ending, widening gyre whose stigma lives with you like a ghost…” she adds.

But, why join such professions in the first place? “At 16, I married against my parents’ wishes. The guy turned out to be a drug-addict. After three years of marriage and two children to feed, I walked out of this abusive relationship. But my parents refused to help me. So, I got a job as a domestic helper with an NRI family in Deep Singh Nagar, Bathinda. I was given a room, too. But the owner started demanding sexual favours and I decided to quit the job to work in an orchestra, run by a neighbour’s relative. Good looks were my passport to the job. But, I soon realised that it was not all about dancing,” confides Madhu (name changed).

“Penury, betrayal, illiteracy and abuse are classic ingredients of our lives. Everybody talks about izzat, but izzat isn’t going to feed my family, is it? You need money to survive, and I had no other options,” adds Madhu. In August last year, the Bathinda police had rounded up several girls who were involved in flesh trade in the guise of orchestra business.

According to a report by the Central Bureau of Investigation reports, the global human trafficking industry affects an estimated six to eight million people annually and is worth $ 9 billion. A survey conducted by the National Commission for Women estimates that 378 districts (62 per cent) of India are affected by trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation.

“Women, the world over, are vulnerable to sexual exploitation, especially, when they are migrants or refugees and when they are suffering from poverty or affected by racism and caste structure. Women and children are forced into the industry by violence, lack of economic alternatives, deception, debt bondage and financial enslavement. It is a human rights disaster. It is high time the government seriously tackled the menace that has assumed alarming proportions,” says Jai Singh, who runs the Volunteers for Social Justice, an NGO.

Most of the girls are either forced into the profession by parents, or are victims of poverty and unemployment. Minal (34), a resident of Guru Nanakpura, Bathinda, has been dancing since she was 17, earning anything between Rs 8,000 and Rs 12,000 a month. After she failed in Class X, her widowed mother married her off. But as luck would have it, her moments of joy were short-lived. Just three months into the marriage, her drunkard husband started forcing her to sleep with other men to earn some money.

“I was young and good looking. One day, a customer asked me to join a western orchestra group then operational in the town. Sometimes you need to pay with your soul to earn a livelihood. I then started to work as a prostitute, disguised as a dancer,” she sobs. “I have been to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore on ‘business’ tours,” she adds. There are around 5,000 orchestra groups in Punjab, involving more than one lakh women.

Although common, such cases don’t usually come to the notice of the police. “Rarely do we come across such cases. Given our society’s attitude towards the victim, girls and their families prefer to keep mum. The police, society and the politicians should work in tandem to curb this menace,” says Manjeet Kaur, in-charge, Women’s Cell, Jalandhar.

President of the Lok Bhalai Party, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, says that while his party had not received any written or formal complaint hitherto, such incidents are quite common in Punjab. “Faced with unemployment and compelling family needs, young beautiful girls, sometimes even well-educated ones, are forced into this dirty business for the want of money. They do not choose it by preference, but out of sheer necessity, often after broken marriages or being disowned by families,” he adds. But president of the Punjab Orchestra Association Vijay Sahota dubs these reports as false, saying: “Though incidents of pushing dancers or orchestra singers into prostitution had come to light in Bathinda in the late 1990s, after our association was formed in 2000, no such case has been reported.” “Artistes are poor, not immoral. If the organisers play foul, the girls should complain to us. Our association will definitely come to their rescue and help them get due respect,” he concludes.

When women become ‘witches’

7 Feb

Saira Kurup, TNN, 7 February 2010, 02:21am IST  , TIMES OF INDIA

RANCHI: On January 2, 2010, three masked men barged into Pinki’s home in Tapodana village, Ranchi district and killed her parents on the charges of practicing witchcraft Pinki , 14 and her younger brother are now in hiding because she too has been named as a dayan or witch. Sushila Devi, 45, tries to hide the injury on her head with her sari pallu as she describes how she and four other village women, mostly widows, were beaten, paraded naked and forced to eat excreta in Patharghatia village in Deoghar district, Jharkhand on October 17, 2009.  They were accused of being dayans. “There were at least 10,000 villagers watching when these women were beaten up. Word had spread that the dayans would be dancing,” says Deepak Kumar Deo, legal trainer with an NGO, Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) in Ranchi.

A witch doctor (ojha) ‘treating’ a woman accused of being a witch; Sagrina Bibi (left) and Gulinoor Bibi, who were assaulted for being ‘dayans’ in October last year

A witch doctor (ojha) ‘treating’ a woman accused of being a witch; Sagrina Bibi (left) and Gulinoor Bibi, who were assaulted for being ‘dayans’ in October last year

Pinky and Sushila are lucky to be alive because scores of women are killed on charges of witchcraft in states like Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal annually. Between 2001 and 2008, 452 women were killed in Jharkhand, according to a report by an NGO, Association for Social and Human Activities. Jharkhand’s economic backwardness and a low literacy rate of 53.6% (38.9% among women) make for a fertile environment that breeds superstition, illiteracy and violence against women. Even the death of an animal becomes a trigger for condemning some poor woman as a dayan. Often, it’s an excuse to grab property or settle scores with someone.

Although Jharkhand has a witchcraft prevention Act — under which the maximum punishment is a one-year imprisonment, its implementation is still awaited. RLEK chairman Avdhash Kaushal says, “Lack of access to justice is the main problem. But there are many other barriers too, such as of distance, of attitude towards rural people.”  Keeping that in mind, RLEK organized a legal literacy programme in a village near Ranchi last month, during which hundreds of women were able to voice their grievances to Supreme Court and High Court judges, state bureaucrats, and officials of the National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa). Reacting to Pinky’s and Sushila’s cases, HC Justice M Y Eqbal said while witch-hunting should invoke stricter penalties, it is more important to spread awareness.

But economic insecurity is also a tough enemy. Many women at the village meet complained about not receiving their widow pensions and not getting work under NREGA. Those who do get work said they are paid less than men. Despite their trauma, Safina Bibi, Sagrina Bibi, Gulinoor Bibi and Majidan Bibi — the other four women who were assaulted along with Sushila Devi – are more concerned about getting a “lal card” or the ration card. However, there’s now a glimmer of hope, with Union woman and child development minister Krishna Tirath saying recently that there would soon be a law against witch-hunting. But would that ensure justice for the likes of Pinki and Sushila? That, unfortunately, still seems a long way off.

Kids go to serve sex in Dubai

21 Sep

By: J Dey

Hundreds of minors flown out to Gulf to dance in bars, provide sex, as Ramzan month of abstinence ends

For three days now, 2,000 girls, almost all minors, have left for the Middle East, particularly Dubai, to feed the needs of a population starved of entertainment and sex post the rigours of Ramzan.
The girls have been told they are being taken to dance in bars, but it is implicit that they will double up as prostitutes for well-paying clients. Another 1,000 will leave by tomorrow.
Sources say there has been an approximate 20 per cent rise in the trafficking of minors over the last year.
And it’s remarkably easy. Chennai and New Delhi were used as gateways instead of Mumbai where checks are more stringent.

Sources added that all the minors were travelling on forged documents that show them as adults.
A senior officer from Special Branch 1 said the girls were travelling on a tourist visa and their stated purpose was ‘to visit relatives in the Gulf’.
“We know they are going for immoral purposes. We have been looking to see how we can check their exit,” remarked the officer.

‘Rise in trafficking’
Vikrant Raghuvanshi, lawyer and president of the NGO Akshaywat, which works with child trafficking, said, “Yes, there has been a substantial rise in the trafficking of minors, but it was never really controlled.
The government has to take strong initiatives rid the country of this menace.”

In an earlier newspaper report, Subhash Chakma, director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights, had said the government was not serious about checking human trafficking in the country.
“We have enough laws to deal with the problem but lack the will to enforce them.”
Ashraf Khan, an agent, said he had been scouting for girls for the past five months. “I make around Rs 40,000 per girl if the deal goes through.
The recruitment process begins about three months before the migration to Gulf begins post Ramzan,” said Khan.
In the Gulf, dance bars are shut during Ramzan and the licenses are revoked. All the girls working there are sent home. The exodus to the Gulf therefore begins post Ramzan.
“An average girl gets paid approximately Rs 1 lakh for a three month contract, while an experienced dancer gets around Rs 3 lakh for the same period,” he added. In addition, experienced dancers get 50 per cent of the tips.
In Mumbai, possibly the best paymaster, the girls make around Rs 10,000 a month, which explains the Gulf rush.
On contract
Khan admitted that 70 per cent of the girls on the three-month contract are below 18 years and the papers are forged to show them as 21 years and above.
“I am going for the first time. My friends told me that the scene is good in Dubai and I will three times what I would earn in Mumbai,” remarked Chandni.
Confirming the exodus, Ramesh Shetty (name changed), a bar owner from Kashimira said, “Five girls from my bar left for Dubai yesterday. We now have a shortfall of dancers, but they have promised to return after three months.”
Once there, the girls are completely at the mercy of the operators as their passports are taken away so that they cannot escape.
Rakesh Pandey of Rakesh Tours admitted there had been a significant rise of passengers travelling economy class to New Delhi and Chennai in the past few days, of which a large number were female.
The Other Side
Said DCP Brijesh Singh, “We cannot stop them if they are travelling on proper documents. But I am looking into the matter.”
Girl Spotting
> Agents spot the girls at beauty parlors or malls.
> The girls are interviewed and if willing, contracts are signed.
> Rs 30,000, what they would make in a month in the Gulf is paid as advance.
> Most of the girls are 16 and belong to the Bhedia tribe from Rajasthan, famous for their Kalbelia dance.
> The other girls are from Central India and the rest are Mumbai bar girls.
12 lakh
Children are believed to be  involved in prostitution in India twice the population of Nerul
1 crore
People involved in human trafficking in India. The population of Mumbai is 1.5 crore
10 %
Of human trafficking in  India is across borders


20 Sep

The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Ajay Maken today said that the Government of India in close co-ordination with the various State and UT Governments had intensified measures against Human Trafficking and Crime against women. Shri Maken also informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) along with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will be organizing a workshop for training of trainers of all stake holders against Human Trafficking by the end of this year. The Conference will be inaugurated by the Home Minister, Shri P Chidambaram, he said. After this workshop, the MHA also intends to organize similar workshops for stake holders from SAARC countries in line with Government of India’s offer of conducting training programmes for Capacity building for implementation of the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children, he elaborated.

In this regard the Ministry had convened a meeting of the Nodal Officers for Human Trafficking of various States and UTs on August 28, 2009 and had pushed forward the agenda of co-ordinated and intensive efforts against trafficking, Shri Maken informed.

While the meeting resolved to strengthen the respective Nodal Officers and Offices at the Centre and in the States, it also deliberated upon certain common operating procedures and practices, following which MHA has issued the following two advisories to the State Governments and UT administrations to issue suitable directions to all concerned to check crime against women and Human Trafficking;

Advisory regarding Measures needed to curb Crime against Women issued on September 4, 2009.

Advisory on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking in India issued on September 9, 2009.

Main Points of advisory on checking crime against women

The advisory  has detailed measures that are needed to curb crime against this vulnerable section of the society.  The States and UTs have also been asked to convey the status on the measures to the Centre within a month. The Government of India have been advising the State Governments from time to time regarding the steps that need to be taken to afford a greater measure of protection to the women and in particular to prevent incidence of crimes against them.  Through the advisories, the State Governments were also requested to undertake a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the machinery in tackling the problem of women and to take appropriate measures aimed at increasing the responsiveness of the law and order machinery.

Some State Governments, no doubt, have taken some measures in this regard. However, the inputs regarding crime against women available with this Ministry indicate that these measures need to be strengthened further. Despite several steps being taken by the State Governments, picture still is very grim and disappointing. Complaints are still being received regarding non-registration of FIRs and unsympathetic attitude of police personnel towards rape victims and victims of violence.

The National Commission for Women has been undertaking visits to various States to review the status of women and has been making available findings of their inquiry to the concerned State Governments as well as to the MHA.  The reports of the inquiries conducted by the Commission in specific incidents indicate that the level of sensitiveness and care with which crime against women should be handled is not up to the desired level.

The Government of India is deeply concerned with these trends and ground situation and has re-emphasized that urgent action should be taken on the following:-

  • Vigorously enforce the existing legislation relating to Crime against Women and Children, i.e.,  Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 and Violence against Women (Prevention) Act, 2005, Section 67 of the IT Act, 2000, the display of lascivious photographs/films on computer through internet, etc.
  • Government must ensure proper enforcement of law and convictions in women related crimes.  Enforcement agencies should be instructed in unambiguous terms that enforcement of the rights of the weaker and vulnerable sections including women and children should not be downplayed for fear of further disturbances or retribution and adequate preparation should be made to face any such eventuality.
  • The administration and police should play a more proactive role in detection and investigation of crime against women and ensuring that there is no under reporting.
  • Increasing the overall representation of women in police forces.  The representation of women in police at all levels should be increased through affirmative action so that they constitute about 33% of the police.
  • Sensitizing the law enforcement machinery towards crime against women by way of well structured training programmes, meetings and seminars etc., for police personnel at all levels as well as other functionaries of the criminal justice system.
  • Government must take concrete steps to increase awareness in the administration and among the police in particular, regarding crime against women, and take steps not only to tackle such crimes but also deal sensitively with the ensuing trauma.

For improving general awareness on legislations, mechanisms in place for safety and protection of women, the concerned department of the State Government must, inter-alia, take following steps:

  1. Create awareness through print and electronic media;
  2. Develop a community monitoring system to check cases of violence, abuse and exploitation and take necessary steps to curb the same;
  3. Involving the Community at large in creating and spreading such awareness; and
  4. Organize legal literacy and legal awareness camps.
  5. Explore the possibility of associating NGOs working in the area of combating crime against women. Citizens groups and NGOs should be encouraged to increase awareness about gender issues in society and help bring to light violence against women and also assist the police in the investigation of crime against women.  Close coordination between the police and the NGOs dealing with the interests of women may be ensured.
  6. There should be no delay whatsoever in registration of FIR in all cases of crime against women.
  7. All out efforts should be made to apprehend all the accused named in the FIR   immediately so as to generate confidence in the victims and their family members;
  8. Cases should be thoroughly investigated and charge sheets against the accused persons should be filed within three months from the date of occurrence, without compromising on the quality of investigation.   Speedy investigation should be conducted in heinous crimes like rape. The medical examination of rape victims should be conducted without delay.
  9. Ensure proper supervisions at appropriate level of cases of crime against women from the recording of FIR to the disposal of the case by the competent court.
  10. Help-line numbers of the crime against women cells – should be exhibited prominently in hospitals/schools/colleges premises, and in other suitable places.
  11. Set up exclusive ‘Crime Against Women and Children’ desk in each police station and the Special Women police cells in the police stations and all women police thana as needed.
  12. Concerned departments of the State Governments could handle rape victims at all stages from filing a complaint in a police station to undergoing forensic examination and in providing all possible assistance including counseling, legal assistance and rehabilitation.  Preferably these victims may be handled by women so as to provide a certain comfort level to the rape victims.
  13. The specialized Sexual Assault Treatment Units could be developed in government hospitals having a large maternity section.
  14. The Health department of the State Govts., should set up ‘Rape Crisis Centres’  (RCCs) and specialized ‘Sexual Assault Treatment Units’ (SATUs), at appropriate places. RCCs could act as an interface between the victims and other agencies involved.
  15. The administration should also focus on rehabilitation of the victims and provide all required support.  The police should consider empanelling professional counselors and the counseling should not be done by the police.
  16. For improving the safety conditions on road, the concerned departments of the State Government must take suitable steps to:
  17. Increase the number of  beat constables, especially on the sensitive roads;
  18. Increase the number of police help booth/kiosks, especially in remote and lonely stretches;
  19. Increase police patrolling, especially during the night;
  20. Increase the number of women police officers in the mobile police vans;
  21. Set-up telephone booths for easy access to police;
  22. Install people friendly street lights on all roads, lonely stretches and alleys; and
  23. Ensure street lights are properly and efficiently working on all roads, lonely stretches and alleys.
  24. The local police should arrange for patrolling in the affected areas and more especially in the locality of the weaker sections of the society.  Periodic visits by DM & SP will create a sense of safety and security among these sections of the people.
  25. Special steps to be taken for security of women working in night shifts of call centers.
  26. Crime prone areas should be identified and a mechanism be put in place to monitor infractions in schools/colleges for ensuring safety and security of female students. Women police officers in adequate number fully equipped with policing infrastructure may be posted in such areas.
  27. Action should be taken at the State level to set up of Fast Track Courts and Family Courts.
  28. Dowry related cases must be adjudicated expeditiously to avoid further harassment of the women.
  29. Appointment Dowry Prohibition Officers and notify the Rules under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
  30. All police stations may be advised to display the name and other details of Protection Officers of the area appointed under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
  31. Police personnel should be trained adequately in special laws dealing with atrocities against women. Enforcement aspect should be emphasized adequately so as to streamline it.
  32. Special steps may also be taken by the police in collaboration with the Health and Family Welfare Department of the State to prevent female foeticide.
  33. Special steps should also be taken to curb the ‘Violation of Women’s Rights by so called Honour Killings, to prevent forced marriage in some northern States, and other forms of Violence’.
  34. Ensure follow up of reports of cases of atrocities against women received from various sources, including NCW & SCW, with concerned authorities in the State Governments.

The advisories issued by MHA, inter-alia, include gender sensitization of the police personnel, adopting appropriate measures for swift and salutary punishment to public servants found guilty of custodial violence against women, minimizing delays in investigations of murder, rape and torture of women and improving its quality, setting up a ‘crime against women cell’ in districts where they do not exist, providing adequate counseling centers and shelter homes for women who have been victimized etc.

Main points of advisory on preventing and combating human trafficking in India

The key points include implementation of legal provisions in the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1956; Juvenile Justice Act 2000; Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006; capacity building of the State machinery; prevention of trafficking; investigation and prosecution and rescue and rehabilitation measures. The states and UTs have also been asked to convey to the Centre the present status within one month. The key points have been worked out in collaboration with the related Ministries of Women & Child Development, Labour & Employment and Health & Family Welfare.

To facilitate matters in this regard, MHA has already established an Anti Trafficking Cell (ATC) which deals with the following major subject matters:

  • All matters pertaining to the criminal aspect of trafficking in human beings especially of women and children, which is the fastest growing organized crime and an area of concern.
  • To act as the Nodal cell for dealing with the criminal aspect of Human Trafficking in India, hold regular meetings of all States and UTs, communicating various decisions and follow up on action taken by the State Governments.
  • To interface with other Ministries like Women & Child Development, Social Justice &Empowerment, External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs, Labour & Employment, Law, and NCRB regarding the criminal aspect of human trafficking.

The Anti Trafficking Nodal Cell of MHA has developed an MIS proforma for the monitoring of the action taken by various State Governments regarding the criminal aspect of human trafficking as well as crime against women.  The State Governments are required to send quarterly information.

Girls rescued from the hand of flesh trader in Sikkim

16 Sep

16 Sep 2009:

Voice of Sikkim:

Man named Vidur Rai who was possessing the girls was arrested here at Gangtok as said by SP East Mr. Tuli. Human Trafficking in North East is increasing day by day in lieu offering teens handsome amount of Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000. The traders usually give a promise to deploy victim in a good salaried job at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore like other cities but they finally push innocents into a flesh trade business.

The shocking incident occured when a seven girls were rescued from Syari and Tadong at capital from hand of such intruder.  However some more rackets can be exposed if Sikkim Police takes the Human Trafficking matter seriously and perfoms some sting operations in the capital town Gangtok, local people says.




Sikkim teenager rescued, 1 held

16 Sep

Ambika Pandit, TNN 16 September 2009, 09:26am IST

NEW DELHI: Shikha (name changed) is barely 13, but her experiences over the last fortnight have added years to her age. The Sikkim teenager, a victim of trafficking, was rescued from a street off G B Road on Monday. The authorities in Sikkim, meanwhile, were quick to apprehend the alleged trafficker from New Jalpaiguri station in West Bengal.

Shikhas ordeal began when her parents agreed to send her to the capital with one Chandra Maya Rai who allegedly assured them that the child would find employment as a domestic help.

The young girl was allegedly brought to Delhi on September 7 and was provided employment through a placement agency in a house near Munirka.

A week later, Shikha was spotted by a beat constable on a road leading to Delhis largest red light area. He became suspicious when he found the girl weeping as she crouched in a corner with her belongings . Shikha was taken to the Kamla Market police station and inquiries revealed that the child was working as a domestic help in a house in Munirka where she was made to clean the house and wash utensils. The girl revealed that she was also slapped by her employers, revealed Rishikant from NGO Shakti Vahini, which is handling the case.

Speaking to Times City, Shikha said she did not like the place where she was made to work and asked Rai to take her back home. At this Rai threatened to sell her off for Rs 25 lakh, Shikha alleged. The traumatised teenager claimed that on Monday when the lady who she worked for went to take a bath, she escaped and took a bus to the station. However, it was not clear how she landed near G B Road.

Rishikant said senior officials swung into action as soon as the incident was reported. It was around 11.30pm that the matter came to light. The girl was shifted to Sikkim House and authorities in Sikkim were intimated. The parents of the girl were located and it came to light that Rai was on her way by train to Sikkim, senior officials said. She was apprehended by the authorities soon after the train reached New Jalpaiguri.

Meanwhile, Shikha was produced before the Child Welfare Committee in Mayur Vihar and handed over to the Sikkim authorities. The child will now be sent back to her parents. To ensure that Shikha does not find herself again in a trafficking chain, the CWC issued directions to the state authorities to keep a vigil for one year on the childs movements.

Press should treat abducted girls as rape victims: Hadley Freeman

3 Sep

Hadley Freeman

When a slavering press brands kidnap victims such as Jaycee Lee Dugard ‘sex slaves,’ it shames them.

How should newspapers refer to a victim of kidnap? Heaven knows in these modern days the question of appropriate nomenclature seems to get more complicated — and my hat is tipped to the female actor v actress debate that so exercised Guardian readers recently — but the aversion some newspapers have towards the term “kidnap victim,” or even just “victim,” when reporting the discovery of Jaycee Lee Dugard last week was n otable. Even more surprising was the term that is apparently more acceptable, more au courant: sex slave.

Last week the London tabloid Daily Mail and, less predictably, the Times used this term in their headlines about the case, while other tabloids, of course, pledged their support to the term, too. London’s Evening Standard slapped it on their familiar billboards all over town, which managed almost to neuter the term through prosaic repetition. But then, “kidnap victim” does lack an illicit erotic kick, don’t you find?

One tabloid made a horror-struck comment about how kidnapper Phillip Garrido (“the new Fritzl/Charles Manson, etc, etc” — U.K. press) “satisfied his sick sexual urges” with Dugard, when, at that moment, it sounded like the only people being satisfied were the tabloids’ readers. There have been unconfirmed tales from a neighbour about the “orgies” Garrido may or may not have held in his backyard involving “eight to 10 men, mostly Mexican.” True? Possibly not: “I just hope that sicko wasn’t pimping out Jaycee or those children. The thought makes me sick,” the neighbour said, but not so sick he couldn’t share his supposition with the slavering press.

U.K. treatment

The coverage of Dugard reflects the strangely voyeuristic way the British press covers kidnappings of young girls. It would take a highly patriotic American to claim that their country’s media doesn’t succumb to tasteless voyeurism from time to time, but it was striking how, last Friday, when this American story was breaking, it was the headline on all U.K. newspaper websites. Over at the New York Times and Washington Post, however, it got only small paragraph mentions on the front page; instead the unashamedly tabloid (and Murdochian) New York Post gave it what shall now be known as the U.K. treatment.

Now, you could say that this was a sad reflection of America’s outdated obsession with the Kennedy family that an ageing politician’s funeral, which was happening that day, took precedence. But, my God, the U.K. press does love a “house of horror” story hence the detailed photos of Dugard’s prison backyard in several U.K. papers by the weekend. Moreover, the interest in the fate of kidnapped girls has arguably escalated in this country after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. But one wonders how Kate and Gerry McCann feel when they read all the (hypothetical, unconfirmed) graphic details of what Dugard has been through for the past 18 years.

The coverage of other recent cases involving rediscovered kidnapped girls — Elisabeth Fritzl and Natascha Kampusch — have eased the slimy way for the sweaty-palmed coverage of Dugard. Fritzl and Kampusch were both referred to as “sex slaves” occasionally, but with nowhere near the frequency and abandon as Dugard.

New kind of shame

The sexual abuse is an important part of all these cases and, in the case of Dugard, who left her prison with two children she did not have when she went in, an unavoidable part. But describing her as a “sex slave” not only puts the emphasis on her, as opposed to her captor, but suggests the sexual abuse element was the only damaging part, as opposed to the imprisonment, the loss of contact with her family and the possible brain-washing. No doubt the tabloids would claim that Garrido is merely getting the pillorying he deserves. But to use concern for Dugard as an excuse to pull back her bedclothes seems but a whisper away from claiming, as Garrido did, to be the voice of God in order to have control over your captive. It’s hard not to feel that Dugard has just escaped 18 years of sexual abuse, only to walk out into the blinding light of a whole new kind of shame. Her disappearance may have been public knowledge, but now that her fate is known, why doesn’t she get the same protection as other rape victims?

Speaking of Kennedy, now we come to an inevitable tale of our times. 2009 is shaping up nicely to be the Year of the Dead Famous People. Which is great if you’re a celebrity obituarist but a nightmare if you’re a famous person in poor health as your risk of being overshadowed in death is even higher this year. And then your life will have been for naught. Well, if you’re the family of writer Dominick Dunne, who died last week right in the middle of Kennedy coverage, you know what to do.

It’s apt that Dunne, the modern-day Truman Capote (if not in novel-writing) and a man who knew that not all Bold-Faced Names (American slang for celebrities) are created equal, should be the one to confront this problem where Mother Teresa (clashed with Diana) and Farrah Fawcett (like you need to ask) failed. According to the New York Times obituary, “The spokesman had initially declined to confirm the death, saying the family had hoped to wait a day before making an announcement so that Mr. Dunne’s obituary would not be obscured by the coverage of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s death.” Yeah, shove over, Teddy!

But how long should one’s family wait? And what if there was a backlog? Formaldehyded corpses stinking up parlours from Beverly Hills to Manhattan seem to be the inevitable future. Hey, has anyone seen Elizabeth Taylor recently? — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2009

Great Indian bride bazaar

4 Jul
Away and alone: Rasespuri, of Bargarh in Orissa, and her daughter are left to fend for themselves in Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh, after her husband died. / Photo: Sunil Mishra

Oriya girls are hot property for matchmakers and wannabe grooms from Hindi heartland

By Deepak Tiwari / Orissa & Bundelkhand

Amit Jain, 37, a trader from Jhansi, spent 12 years looking for a bride in his village. He found none thanks to the skewed sex ratio in the region. Finally, he did what many wannabe grooms in central India did-headed to the ‘bride bazaar’ in Orissa.

An agent took Jain to three Oriya girls. He chose a good-looking Brahmin girl from Kuranga village. The impoverished farmer family, with five daughters and a son, all educated till Class 12, sealed the marriage after verifying Jain’s credentials.The ‘bazaar’ is spread over a dozen districts of Orissa. It works through a network of agents who persuade impoverished parents to marry their daughters to men like Jain. No matter if the groom is over-aged, unemployed, notorious or poor; the agents-in cahoots with local leaders, lodge owners, temple priests and the police-get brides for them, for fees ranging between Rs 20,000 and Rs 40,000.

With sex ratio above national average, the districts of Sambalpur, Bargarh, Kalahandi, Bolangir, Sundergarh, Jajpur, Koraput, Rayagada, Nuapada and Mayurbhanj in Orissa are hotspots of the bride ‘business’. “The agents convince parents by painting a rosy picture of prospective grooms from distant lands and cite examples of Oriya families who have married their daughters to these places,” said social activist Lingaraj Pradhan.

“The best season for agents to look for brides is during the months of hardship in summer,” said social activist Ranjan Panda. “The practice is rampant in the poor pockets. The unbalanced development in the state has added to the problem. A study showed that 80 per cent of target Oriya families is landless and 70 per cent of those trafficked illiterate.”

The agents bring wannabe grooms in unreserved coaches of trains to evade the police and put them up in dingy lodges. They take part of their fee as advance and the balance when the marriage is fixed. Half their fee goes to the facilitator, usually the bride’s relative or neighbour, and the local agent, in most cases village leaders, educated unemployed youths, hotel managers or grocers. The local agent also mobilises support to conduct the marriage in a temple or in the presence of a notary. If the bride’s family is poor, it gets Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 towards marriage expenses.

Sometimes greedy agents get people of different castes to marry, leading to marital discord later, said Narayan Sahu, who owns a lodge in Bargarh. Caste hurdles are overcome by passing off a Jain as a Brahmin and those from backward communities as banias (traders). “Once the marriage is over, the couples adjust to the new life,” said agent Tulsi Kumar.
“Many girls who marry men from remote areas in the Hindi belt return with tales of exploitation,” said Tikalal Mishra, a social activist in Parmanpur village of Bargarh. His niece was duped by a Brahmin family which had claimed to own vast tracts of land but later turned out to be paupers. “Most agents lie about the grooms’ background,” he said.

Videshi Mahapatra of Porwadi village in Sambalpur married his daughter Aruna, 26, to a man from Bundelkhand after an agent told him that the groom was from a rich family. But the groom turned out to be a landless labourer. When Aruna protested, her in-laws abused her. She returned to Sambalpur and filed a police complaint. The case of Rasespuri, 28, of Bargarh is tragic. She married Ajjudi Rajput of Ranital village of Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh. But after he died of kidney failure, she and her nine-month-old daughter were left to fend for themselves, with only her mother-in-law to help. Not all girls suffer. Asarfi of Orissa’s Kharmanda village married Kriparam Lodhi of Chhatarpur in 2003. After five years, she got her younger sister married to Lodhi’s brother. The sisters are happy. “The two girls have learnt our traditions and are like us now,” said Lodhi’s father, Santram. Similarly, Kamlini Pani of Dungipali village of Bolangir, who married Mahesh Shukla, a Brahmin, five years ago, is settled in her husband’s village, where she is an anganwadi worker.

The dowry system was not traditionally prevalent in western Orissa but has caught on over the past three decades. This is a reason that “poor parents marry their daughters to grooms from across the state border,” said Shibshankar Nanda of the Oriya daily Dharitri. The worst hit by the dowry system are Brahmin farmers and educated families from other castes whose farms were ruined because of shortage of farm workers, caused by NREGA and migration. Social taboos have prevented Brahmins and the educated class from working in the fields.

A reason why Brahmin men go bride hunting is shortage of girls in their own community. “In the Bundelkhand region, the Brahmins are poor and illiterate and live in remote areas. Parents do not want to send their daughters to such places,” said Pushpendra Nath Pathak, BJP president in Chhatarpur.
Aspiring grooms find paying an agent to get an Oriya bride better than spending on wedding ceremonies. “Oriya girls serve their twin needs-sex and farm labour,” said Virendra Diwedi, a Youth Congress leader in Panna district in MP. Women who cannot adjust to the new place are sometimes sold to other men.

Noticing the trend of men from his state marrying Oriya girls, Madhya Pradesh Rural Development Minister Gopal Bhargava told an agent in Sagar that he would organise a mass marriage for the grooms so that they can benefit from the Mukhyamantri Kanyadaan Yojana, under which couples get Rs 10,000 as government grant. Pathak, who plans to form a confederation of Oriya brides in Bundelkhand to help them interact with each other, feels the practice of marrying Oriya girls should be institutionalised to eradicate the ills of the system. Such a move could help the Oriya girls, because a study by the Institute of Social and Economic Development in Bhubaneswar in 2003 showed that even brothel owners in Mumbai, Delhi or Kolkata were among the bride hunters.
(Some names have been changed to protect identity.)


18 Jun

INDIA (Tier 2 Watch List)

India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Internal forced labor may constitute India’s largest trafficking problem; men, women, and children in debt bondage are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories. Although no comprehensive study of forced and bonded labor has been carried out, some NGOs estimate this problem affects tens of millions of Indians. Those from India’s most disadvantaged social economic strata are particularly vulnerable to forced or bonded labor and sex trafficking.

Women and girls are trafficked within the country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage. Children are also subjected to forced labor as factory workers, domestic servants, beggars, and agricultural workers. In recent years, there has been an increase of sex trafficking to medium-sized cities and satellite towns of large cities.India is also a destination for women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. There are also victims of labor trafficking among the thousands of Indians who migrate willingly every year to the Middle East, Europe, and the United States for work as domestic servants and low-skilled laborers. In some cases, such workers are the victims of fraudulent recruitment practices committed in India that lead them directly into situations of forced labor, including debt bondage; in other cases, high debts incurred to pay recruitment fees leave them

vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers in the destination countries, where some are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude, including nonpayment of wages, restrictions on movement, unlawful withholding of passports, and physical or sexual abuse.

Men and women from Bangladesh and Nepal are trafficked through India for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation in the Middle East. Over 500 Nepalese girls were jailed in the state of Bihar on charges of using false documents to transit India in the pursuit of employment in Gulf countries. Indian nationals travel to Nepal and within the country for child sex tourism.

The Government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these significant efforts, India has not demonstrated sufficient progress in its law enforcement efforts to address human trafficking, particularly bonded labor; therefore India is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

India’s central government faces several challenges in demonstrating a more robust anti-trafficking effort: states under the Indian Constitution have the primary responsibility for law enforcement, and state-level authorities are limited in their abilities to effectively confront interstate and transnational trafficking crimes; complicity in trafficking by many Indian law enforcement officials and overburdened courts impede effective prosecutions; widespread poverty continues to provide a huge source of vulnerable people; and the Indian government faces other equally pressing priorities such as basic healthcare, education, and counterterrorism. During the reporting period, the central government continued to improve coordination among a multitude of bureaucratic

agencies that play a role in anti-trafficking and labor issues. Government authorities continued to rescue victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and forced child labor. Several state governments (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Goa, and West Bengal) demonstrated significant efforts in prosecution, protection, and prevention, although largely in the area of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

Recommendations for India: Continue to expand central and state government law enforcement capacity to conduct intrastate and interstate law enforcement activities against trafficking and bonded labor; consider expanding the Central Ministry of Home Affairs “nodal cell” on trafficking to coordinate law enforcement efforts to investigate and arrest traffickers who cross state and national lines; significantly increase law enforcement efforts to decrease official complicity in trafficking, including prosecuting, convicting, and punishing complicit officials with imprisonment; continue to increase law enforcement efforts against sex traffickers, including prosecuting, convicting, and punishing traffickers with imprisonment; improve central and state government implementation of protection programs and compensation schemes to ensure that certified trafficking victims actually receive benefits, including compensation for victims of forced child labor and bonded labor, to which they are entitled under national and state law; and increase the quantity and breadth of public awareness and related programs to prevent both trafficking for labor and commercial sex.


Indian government authorities made significant progress in law enforcement efforts against sex trafficking and forced child labor during the year, but made little progress in addressing bonded labor. The government prohibits some forms of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation through the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA). Prescribed penalties under the ITPA, ranging from seven years’ to life imprisonment, are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. India also prohibits bonded and forced labor through the Bonded Labor (Abolition) Act of 1976, the Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986, and the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986. These laws were ineffectively enforced, and their prescribed penalties—a maximum of three years in

prison—are not sufficiently stringent. Indian authorities also use Sections 366(A) and 372 of the Indian Penal Code, prohibiting kidnapping and selling minors into prostitution, respectively, to arrest traffickers. Penalties prescribed under these provisions are a maximum of ten years’ imprisonment and a fine. Although Section 8 of the ITPA allows the arrest of trafficked women for soliciting, the Indian cabinet debated for another year proposed amendments that would give trafficking victims greater protections.

State governments continued to demonstrate efforts to address forced child labor, but failed to punish most traffickers. During the year, the New Delhi government rescued more than 100 children from forced labor situations, such as the February 2009 rescue of 35 children found enslaved in four small factories making leather products under hazardous and forced conditions without pay. In Jharkhand (with a population of 29 million people), the state labor ministry and police, in collaboration with an NGO, conducted raids on 120 establishments during a planned operation and rescued 208 children from forced or bonded labor situations.The central government and state governments continued to demonstrate efforts to combat sex trafficking of women and children, though convictions and punishments of sex traffickers were infrequent. The central government’s National Crime Records Bureau provided limited comprehensive data, compiled from state and union territory governments, on actions taken against sex trafficking offenses in 2007. The 2007 data indicated that 4,087 cases were registered (investigations started), which likely includes sex trafficking cases referred to courts for prosecution as well as cases investigated and closed

without such referrals. This data did not include reported prosecutions and convictions. Data for 2008 will not be available until 2010.

In Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Goa, and West Bengal (with a combined population of 360 million people), government officials registered 964 sex trafficking cases, conducted 379 rescue operations, helped rescue 1,653 victims, arrested 1,970 traffickers (including 856 customers), convicted 30 sex traffickers, helped rehabilitate 876 sex trafficking victims, and trained 13,490 police officers and prosecutors. In Mumbai, authorities prosecuted 10 sex trafficking cases but obtained no convictions in 2008. In Andhra Pradesh, courts convicted and sentenced eleven traffickers to imprisonment for 10 to 14 years. Tamil Nadu’s state government reported arrests of 1,097 sex trafficking offenders in 2008, though the number of trafficking prosecutions and convictions during the reporting period was not reported. The city of Pune attained its first sex trafficking conviction in 2008. During the reporting period, the central government made little progress to investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish labor trafficking offenders. However, it allocated $18 million to the Ministry of Home Affairs to create 297 anti-human trafficking units across the nation to train and sensitize law enforcement officials. According to NGOs, state-level officials who received such training in the past are increasingly recognizing women in prostitution as potential victims of trafficking and therefore not arresting them for solicitation. In Tamil Nadu (with a population of 65 million people), an NGO reported a significant improvement in how police file charges in bonded labor cases. The police now also

employ the Indian Penal Code’s tougher provisions, which allow bonded labor cases to be processed more quickly through the judicial system.

The significant problem of public officials’ complicity in sex trafficking and forced labor remained largely unaddressed by central and state governments during the reporting period. Corrupt law enforcement officers reportedly continued to facilitate the movement of sex trafficking victims, protect brothels that exploit victims, and protect traffickers and brothel keepers from arrest and other threats of enforcement. India reported no prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of government officials for trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period.


India’s efforts to protect victims of trafficking varied from state to state. Protection efforts often suffered from a lack of sufficient financial and technical support from government sources, and protection for victims of labor trafficking remained very weak. Under its Swadhar program – which covers a broad range of activities of which anti-sex trafficking is one – the government supports over 200 shelters with an annual budget of more than $1 million to provide care for more than13,000 women and girls rescued from a range of difficult circumstances, including sex trafficking. The Ministry of Women and Child Development continued to give grants under its Ujjawala program for the prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration of sex trafficking victims.

The ministry approved funding for at least 53 state projects under this program, benefiting more than 1,700 victims. Since August 2008, the ministry provided the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur, and Nagaland almost $243,000 for 18 projects at 12 rehabilitation centers. Andhra Pradesh established a fund specifically for victim rehabilitation, giving victims rescued from sexual exploitation $200 in temporary relief. Tamil Nadu began providing free legal aid and drug and alcohol addiction counseling services in state shelters to trafficking victims.

The Delhi government established a helpline staffed by NGOs in February 2009 to help rescue children found begging. Although victims of bonded labor are entitled to 20,000 rupees ($400) from the government if they are certified as victims of bonded labor and may be housed in government shelters, disbursement of rehabilitation funds is sporadic and the quality of care in many shelters is not high. NGOs reported that some corrupt local officials take unlawful “commissions” from the rehabilitation packages. Overall, government authorities do not proactively identify and rescue bonded laborers, so few victims receive assistance, though Tamil Nadu

showed the greatest effort to identify and assist victims of bonded labor. In other states, NGOs provided the bulk of protection services to bonded labor victims.

The central government’s Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, during the reporting period, showed resolve to address the trafficking of Indian migrant workers. For example, in September 2008, the Government ordered an inquiry after reports surfaced of girls from northeastern India being trafficked to Malaysia for sex work. The Government arrested the travel agent, promptly rescued the girls and paid for their repatriation to India. The Ministry also drafted an amendment to the Emigration Act that would increase administrative penalties for Indian labor recruitment agencies involved in fraudulent recruitment or human trafficking. Some Indian diplomatic missions in destination countries, especially those in the Middle East, provide significant services, including temporary shelters to nationals who have been trafficked. Some foreign victims trafficked to India are not subject to removal. Those who are subject to removal are not offered legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. NGOs reported in the past some Bangladesh victims of sex trafficking were pushed back across the border without protection services. During the reporting period, India worked closely with Bangladesh on resolving crossborder trafficking issues, including formally designating

a government official to handle such issues during Home Secretary-level discussions in August 2008.

Government shelters for sex trafficking victims are found in all major cities, but the quality of care varies widely. In Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, state authorities operated homes for minor victims of sex trafficking. Although states have made some improvements to their shelter care, victims in these facilities do not receive comprehensive protection services, such as psychological assistance from trained counselors. Many victims decline to testify against their traffickers due to fear of retribution by traffickers and India’s sluggish and overburdened judicial system. The government does not actively encourage victims to

participate in cases against their traffickers.


India continued to conduct information and education campaigns against trafficking in persons and child labor. In late 2008 the central government completed its 18- month long consultation process with government and NGO stakeholders on a comprehensive “Integrated Plan of Action to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking with Special Focus on Children and Women.” Overall, the government’s anti-trafficking policies and programs remained framed by the limited perspective of human trafficking defined as the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation, in line with the 2002 South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Convention on Combating Trafficking of Women and Children for Prostitution. Kerala (with a population of 33 million people and India’s largest source of laborers who migrate overseas) regularized recruitment agencies and introduced a toll free number for potential migrants. In January 2009, the central government approved a nationwide model that merges its national educational and poverty alleviation programs together to combat child labor.

While the government made modest efforts to prevent trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, it did not report new or significant efforts to prevent the large problem of bonded labor. The Ministry of Women and Child Development remained the central government’s coordinator of anti-trafficking policies and programs, though its ability to enhance interagency coordination and accelerate anti-trafficking efforts across the bureaucracy remained weak. In August 2008, a UN

report alleged several Indian peacekeepers posted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been involved in paying minor Congolese girls for sex in 2007 and 2008. In March 2009, the Indian military exonerated the soldiers after conducting an investigation. According to a Government of India official, training for Indian soldiers deployed in peacekeeping missions includes awareness about trafficking. In May 2008, the Ministry of Women and Child Development created a think tank to expand public-private partnerships to play a greater role in preventing and combating human trafficking. Following agreements reached prior to this reporting period with Middle Eastern labor destination countries, the Indian prime minister in November 2008 signed

a major agreement with Oman to combat illegal recruitment and human trafficking during his visit there. The agreement stipulates that terms and conditions of employment in Oman shall be defined by an individual employment contract between the employee and the employer and authenticated by Oman’s Ministry of Manpower.

The Ministry of Labor and Employment issued a “Protocol on Prevention, Rescue, Repatriation, and Rehabilitation of Trafficked and Migrant Child Labor” in May 2008 to guide state and district-level authorities and NGOs, and expanded the central government’s list of occupations that are banned from employing children. The government undertook several measures to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period, such as the arrests of 856 customers of prostitution in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Goa, and West Bengal. India has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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