Friday, August 11, 2006

Graveyard of unborn daughters

Graveyard of unborn daughtersOver 100 female foetuses dug out of well near Patiala
Chander ParkashTribune News Service

Patran (Patiala), August 9A mass grave of female foetus was detected today in a vacant plot owned by quacks Pritam Singh, an ex-serviceman and his wife Amarjit Kaur of this town, by a high-level team of state health authorities after it raided the premises of the local Sahib Hospital run by these quacks. They had been allegedly involved in illegal abortions for the past many years.
Residents of this town bordering Haryana, who were quite shocked, took out a march in the city to lodge protest against the anti-social activities of the quack couple. They also demanded that the couple should be given exemplary punishment. They also alleged that though health authorities were aware about illegal happenings that were taking place in the Sahib Hospital for the past many years, but no action was taken by them for the reasons best known to them.
Dr Varinder Singh Mohi, Civil Surgeon, Patiala, who led the raiding team, said it was difficult to tell the exact number of female foetus and placentas recovered from a deep and narrow well, which had been turned into a graveyard for female foetus by the accused, as the remains of placentas and foetus were extremely decomposed. Unconfirmed reports said that their number could cross over hundred.
Information gathered by TNS revealed that district health authorities had been trying to find out the exact number of female foetus, which had been dumped by the quack couple into the well, located in a vacant plot adjacent to their clinic, in the past many years after performing illegal abortions in their triple-storey clinic on the Patiala-Patran main road.
Dr Mohi, while confirming the registration of a criminal case under MTP Act against the quack couple and their subsequent arrest, said that as per a statement by two woman workers of that clinic made before the raiding team, the husband-wife duo had carried out about 35 illegal abortions and subsequently dumped 35 female foetus in that deep well in the past three months.
Not only this, acting swiftly on the situation, the district health authorities, with the help of district administration, also sealed an ultrasound centre located in Samana town, which was carrying out the pre-natal sex determination tests and subsequently sending pregnant women carrying females to Sahib clinic for illegal abortions.
Some instruments, used for carrying out abortions, were also recovered from that centre. A case against the owner of the centre had been registered. Another team had been sent to another ultrasound centre of Dirba town of Sangrur district, which was also allegedly involved in the similar activities.
Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, who gave all help to the raiding team, said that the case against the quack couple was being made fool-proof so that it could be taken to logical end.
Information revealed that one of the female workers, who was working in the hospital, spilled the beans after she developed some differences with the quack couple over payment of her salary. She disclosed everything to some prominent citizens, who then reported the matter to the district administration and health authorities.
When a raid was conducted at the clinic, the raiding team came to know that a well located in the vacant plot situated adjacent to the clinic was being used as a dumping ground for the female foetus.
Mr Munish Kumar, SDM, who coordinated the operation, said at first some poisonous gases were removed from the deep and narrow well. Then a trained man was sent inside the well. After about four to five hours, the man, who had gone inside the well, managed to bring some remains of placentas and foetus. Some glass jars, suspected to be containing some material connected with abortions, were also recovered. He added that the Civil Surgeon, Patiala, would be taking appropriate action in this regard.
A woman worker of Sahib hospital identified as Pooja, while talking to TNS said that illegal abortions were being performed on married women only. She added that quack couple had been charging Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000 per case from the persons concerned.
Meanwhile, the remains of placentas and foetus, which had been dug from the well, had been sent to the pathology laboratory at Rajindra Medical College for histopathological examinations to know their exact status.
Official figures revealed that so far the district health authorities had sealed about 12 ultrasound centres for their alleged involvement in conducting the sex determination test of foetus and five clinics, which were involved in carrying out illegal termination of pregnancy in the current year.

Another grave of female foetuses
Chander ParkashTribune News Service

Patran, August 10Even as the people of this town were still reeling under shock after a mass grave of unborn daughters was detected in a pit situated in the vicinity of local Sahib Hospital yesterday, the district health authorities today identified another pit, near the earlier one, in which about 200 to 300 female foetuses were suspected to be buried. The digging of the second pit would start tomorrow morning.
Official sources said that the district health authorities had also identified about 20 ultrasound centres in Haryana, which had been carrying out pre-natal sex determination tests and subsequently sending a significant number of pregnant women to Sahib Hospital for illegal abortions of female foetuses.
Though the district administration and health authorities were tight lipped about their plans on how to deal with these ultrasound centres, sources revealed that an effective operation would be launched jointly by the Punjab and Haryana Police departments shortly to nab the culprits, who had been supplying customers to Sahib hospital for illegal abortions of female fetuses. These centres were charging Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 from their customers for carrying out pre-natal sex determination tests.
These ultrasound centres, which were supplying the customers to Sahib hospital, run by a quack couple, identified as Pritam Singh and his wife Amarjit Kaur, had been running in Tohana, Kaithal, Jakhal, Ambala, Raipur Rani and Nariangarh areas of the Haryana. Some other ultrasound centres, located in various towns of Patiala and Sangrur districts, were also identified, which too had been sending pregnant women with female fetuses to Sahib Hospital, located on Patran-Patiala main road, for illegal abortions.
Dr V. S. Mohi, Civil surgeon, Patiala, said that three different teams of the Health Department, along with the officials of other departments, would start digging of the second pit tomorrow.
He had also sought explanation from Dr I. C. Taneja, Senior Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, Patran, asking him to explain the reasons that why he (Dr Taneja) could not detect the illegal abortions taking place in the Sahib hospital for the past one year or so. He added that detection of one more grave of female foetuses had also embarrassed the district health authorities also.
Mr Munish Kumar, SDM, Patran, who had been coordinating the operation and Dr Mohi said that the health authorities had constituted three teams for this operation. Ambulances would also be pressed into service while digging up the pit. Before the start of digging, the toxic gases from that pit, which was sealed about one year back, would be removed. Mr Kumar said that they might face some problems while digging out the pit as some sewerage lines were passing over that pit. He added that utmost care would be taken during the digging operation so that no untoward incident could take place.
Dr Mohi said that it also came into his notice that the accused couple had also been using acid in the pit after burying the foetuses and other related material in the pit following illegal abortions to speed up their decomposition.

The shame of Patran-Use the law to fight female foeticide

The Tribune Editorial

THE mass grave of female foetuses discovered behind a private hospital at Patran near Patiala is only a tip of the iceberg. From the accounts in the Press, the couple who ran the establishment had a roaring practice. Every month a dozen or so cases were referred to the hospital by a diagnostic centre, not far away, where an ultrasound machine determined the sex of the foetus. The existence of the Pre-Natal Diagnostics Technique (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act in the statute book, which made checking the sex of an unborn child a cognizable offence, made no difference to the couple who raked in enormous profit killing girls in the wombs of their mothers.
It was not a vigilant administration which busted the racket and brought the police to an abandoned well where the unborn daughters were thrown into. It was at the end of a little haggling by one of the lady staff members of the hospital over her salary and the refusal of the couple to oblige her that she went to the authorities and spilled the beans. The point is, had not the quarrel occurred the couple would have continued their practice. There are many such hospitals all over the state and beyond where at a cost parents can ensure that their girl child is killed in the womb and the foetus thrown somewhere without inviting charges of murder. The PNDTA was enacted with hullabaloo when the male-female sex ratio in states like Punjab and Haryana caused alarm among social scientists, demographers and all those who value human life, whether male or female.
For all the efficacy of the Act, there has so far been only one case of conviction while hospitals like the one at Patran are in clandestine business in several districts of the state. The Act is a powerful instrument in maintaining the natural ratio of men and women provided the authorities show the determination to use it against parents who kill their daughters before they are born, preferring the birth of a son, and the ultrasound-wallas and doctors who pay scant regard to the law or morality. Punjab needs deputy commissioners like that of Nawanshahr, who has made it a mission to fight the evil of female foeticide and redeem the fair name of the state. Why cannot Captain Amarinder Singh’s government ask all district authorities to crack down on ultrasound clinics that are being misused for the greed of the doctors who are running them?

Female foeticide goes on in
Mohali Kulwinder Sangha
Mohali, August 10The uncovering of a mass grave of female foetuses at Patran yesterday has once again brought into focus the gravity of the situation with regard to the evil of foeticide.
Doctors say as in other places in Punjab, the murder of unborn daughters continues in Mohali and neighbouring areas.
Although it is difficult to give the exact figures in view of the fact that parents and certain unscrupulous doctors are hand- in- glove in committing the crime, it is believed that murders may run into hundreds annually in the district. Dr Jasmer Singh, who has been practising in the town for the past 31 years, said female foeticide was still going on in the town and surrounding areas. He estimated that even now, one or two cases must be taking place daily in Mohali itself . If the surrounding areas were to be taken into consideration, the figure might go up to five cases a day.
The number of cases had definitely come down as earlier up to 15 cases of female foeticide a day were estimated, he added. Dr Jasmer Singh said the authorities concerned were not checking the illegal activity on a regular basis. Raids were conducted only when complaints were received. A municipal councillor and the president of the Generation Saviour Association, Ms Amtesh-war Kaur, said the act of killing an unborn girl child was not only inhuman, it also disturbed the natural balance.
She estimated that nearly 80 per cent of nursing homes in the town had been indulging in this illegal activity, though in an over- cautious way. She said a midwife working in a nursing home had told her about an year ago that an NRI woman had come to the town, who already had three daughters.As she wanted to have a son as her fourth child, she went to the nursing home for a check-up.
The doctor went to the extent of aborting the male foetus of the NRI woman as his greed for money had no limits. She said the authorities concerned were only making half-hearted efforts to check female foeticide. There was a need to change the mindset of the people as even educated people had been indulging in such illegal activities in order to have a male child. The state’s Department of Health and Family Welfare said the sex ratio was a cause of concern.
According to the 2001 census, there were 876 females per 1,000 males. Sex ratio in the age group of 0 to 6 was lower, being 798 females per 1,000 males. As per the latest survey conducted in all sub centre headquarter villages , the sex ratio at birth was 826, which showed significant improvement trends in the sex ratio.
Dr M.S. Toor, Civil Surgeon, said there were approximately 35 registered ultrasound centres in the district, out of which 18 were in Mohali. He said these centres were inspected once every three months.
Asked whether female foeticide was going on in the town, Dr Toor said that he had not received any complaint since he took over more than three months ago. He said the inspection of ultrasound centres could not be held more often as the number of such centres was high.

Tribune ImpactFoeticide: women panel orders inquiry
Maneesh ChhibberTribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10In a swift reaction to yesterday's shocking discovery of a grave of female foetuses on a vacant plot owned by two quacks at Patran in Patiala, Punjab State Commission for Women, has ordered an inquiry by the Deputy Commissioner and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Patiala.
In an order passed here today, Ms Parminder Kaur, Chairperson, Punjab State Commission for Women, sought a report from the two officers within 24 hours.
Taking suo motu action on the report published in The Tribune, Ms Parminder Kaur observed that the crime committed by the husband-wife duo of Pritam Singh and Amarjit Kaur, who dumped female foetuses into a well after illegally aborting them, would be dealt with sternly.
A team of Health Department officials had yesterday stumbled upon the grave during a raid on the premises of the Sahib Hospital run by the couple allegedly involved in the business of illegal abortions for the past many years.
Taking to the streets over the incident, the local populace alleged that though the health authorities were aware about the going-ons, no action was ever taken by them.
The Tribune had reported that the health authorities were trying to find out the exact number of female foetuses dumped by the quack couple.
The authorities also sealed an ultrasound centre located in Samana town that was allegedly carrying out pre-natal sex determination tests and subsequently sending pregnant women with female foetuses to Sahib clinic for termination of pregnancy.
In its order, the commission also asked the Director, Health Services, Punjab, to depute a senior official to visit the spot and submit a detailed report to the commission within three days.
Taking Directorate of Health Services and Family Welfare, Punjab, to task for apparently painting a wrong picture before the commission via-a-vis the strict implementation of the PNDT Act, which envisages strict action against hospitals and doctors conducting pre-natal test to know the sex of the foetus, the Chairperson observed that the latest incident showed that the scenario put forth by the authorities was not correct.
"The commission has also been apprised from time to time about the arduous efforts undertaken by the Health Department of Punjab for preventing female foeticide. Why then, the authorities have failed to unearth such ghastly actions against humanity? Where has the system failed? Who are the officials responsible for such crimes?" the order says.

Foetus dumping case: police remand for couple till Aug 13
Tribune News Service
Patiala, August 10

Even as the accused Pritam Singh and Amarjit Kaur, the quack couple of Patran town of this district involved in the illegal abortion of female foetuses, were remanded in police custody till August 13 after they were produced in a court today, the district administration has launched an intensive campaign to detect clinics and ultra-sound centres facilitating female foeticide.
Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said as the matter was very serious, he had directed the health authorities to carry out checking of all ultra-sound centres apart from keeping a tab on the clinic which were suspected to be involved in this activity.
The quack couple was arrested yesterday after a case was registered against them under the MTP Act for their alleged involvement in carrying out the abortions and subsequently dumping the foetuses and placentas in a pit. The quack couple, which had been running the business from a triple-storeyed Sahib Hospital, located on the Patran-Patiala main road of Patran town, was involved in this activity for the past many years.
Dr V. S. Mohi, Civil Surgeon, Patiala, who had been looking after all operations launched against female foeticide, said that about 12 ultra-sound centres had been sealed so far and legal action had been initiated against five clinics for their alleged involvement in carrying out illegal abortion of female foetuses.

Child Labour - Issues

Child LabourShahzad
The State Governments and NGOs to ensure that adequate steps are taken to eradicate child labour.Child labor is a pervasive problem throughout the world, especially in developing countries.Children work for a variety of reasons, the most important being poverty and the induced pressure upon them to escape from this plight. Though children are not well paid, they still serve as major contributors to family income in developing countries.Schooling problems also contribute to child labour, whether it be the inaccessibility of schools or the lack of quality education which forces parents to push their children into more profitable pursuits.Traditional factors such as rigid cultural and social roles in certain countries further limit educational attainment and increase child labour.Working children are the objects of extreme exploitation in terms of toiling for long hours for minimal pay. Their working conditions are especially severe, often not providing the stimulation for proper physical and mental development. Many of these children endure lives of pure deprivation.However, there are problems with the intuitive solution of immediately abolishing child labour to prevent such abuse.First, there is no international agreement defining child labour, making it hard to isolate cases of abuse, let alone abolish them.Second, many children may have to work in order to attend school so abolishing child labor may only hinder their education.Any plan of abolishment depends on schooling. The state could help by making it worthwhile for a child to attend school, whether it be by providing students with nutritional supplements or increasing the quality of education.

Rajya Sabha passes Child Adoption Act

Rajya Sabha passes Child Adoption Act
New Delhi, Aug 08: In a move to check the rising trend of child trafficking, Parliament on Tuesday passed an act to limit child adoption in the country to citizens of India only. A bill to amend the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000 was adopted by Rajya Sabha with a voice vote. Lok Sabha had earlier put its stamp of approval on the legislation. During a spirited reply to the short debate on the bill, the Minister for women and child welfare Renuka Choudhary said the Government proposed to bring in a comprehensive legislation on child welfare to give them more protection. She said laws would also be made stricter to create greater vigil to check the spreading menace of paedophilism as reports indicated that numbers of known paedophiles were masquerading as tourists to indulge in child trafficking. The minister said while in-house adoption would be encouraged, inter-country adoption could also be considered. A national campaign would be started to inform various segments of the society on the Juvenile Justice Act, she added. Government also proposed to implement child labour laws more strictly to banish the menace from the country. She said the police would be sensitised and familiarised on the Act and suggested 33 per cent more women in police force to deal with crime against children. The Minister said while Government is for a stricter adoption law, anybody can adopt any child irrespective of their religion. Earlier, members cutting across party lines made a strong case for formulation of stricter guidelines for adoption of children to guard against their sexual exploitation and improvements in living conditions of child homes all over the country. Bureau Report

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Nodal cell to help tackle human trafficking

New Delhi, August 4:Faced with the danger of inviting sanctions from the US for failing to curb human trafficking, the Centre has set up a nodal cell in the Home Ministry to monitor the efforts to curb the illegal trade. The cell will be responsible for collection and analysis of data received from various sources including state governments on the trade. It will identify the causes, source and transit areas and suggest appropriate action. The Home Ministry has also written to states and Union Territories recommending the setting up of similar departments. They have been asked to send status reports so that a meeting of all nodal officers could be organised in September. India was placed in Tier 2 watch list by the US State Department for two consecutive years and sanctions would be imposed if it slips to Tier 3. A report released last June stated that more efforts were required by the Indian government to combat the crime.
Officials said the ministry would work closely with concerned ministries like Women and Child Development to tackle the menace and involve NGOs for rehabilitation.

Assam wakes up to human trafficking alarm bells

Assam wakes up to human trafficking alarm bells
Samudra Gupta Kashyap
Posted online: Thursday, May 25, 2006 at 0000 hrs Guwahati,

May 24:The Assam Police have finally woken up to the problem of trafficking in girls and young women. The past few years have seen quite a substantial rise in the incidents of young women gone missing. The force has taken up a series of programmes to sensitise and update its officers to tackle this emerging menace in the region.

Leading the initiative is Assam Police director-general D N Dutta. He called upon NGOs and the media today to provide more support to the police and also assured reciprocal response from the force. ‘‘NGOs active in the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking are seeking more cooperation from the law-enforcing agencies, including the police towards a more proactive role in assisting them in conducting raids based on specific information,’’ Dutta said at a day-long interactive workshop intended at sensitising police officers of various ranks to the problem.

G Bhuyan, IGP (CID), said over 100 girls, mostly Adivasis, had gone missing from 25 relief camps in Kokrajhar in two years. More than 300 girls and young women from Assam alone had been rescued in the recent past from brothels, red-light areas and traffickers.

Hasina Kharbih, president of the Shillong-based Impulse NGO Network, said this was just the tip of the iceberg. Kharbih, whose NGO has been playing a leading role in rescue of girls from the Northeast, said that unlike in other areas where poverty and conflict had been some of the basic reasons pushing women into the hands of traffickers, a section of call centre recruiters could actually be part of rackets run by syndicates involved in human trafficking in the region.’’

She also questioned why the ‘Look East’ policy of the Government did not consider looking at human trafficking as a major problem area of the future. ‘‘Why don’t tourism policies of different state governments of the Northeast integrate prevention of trafficking so that the region does not end up becoming another Thailand?’’ she asked, calling for a debate on the non-inclusion of this issue in the policy. She said educated girls from Assam and the Northeast who go out to take up jobs in call centres or join modelling were vulnerable to traps laid by human traffickers.

‘‘There is an urgent need to monitor and check recruitment agencies who come from outside the region to recruit girl candidates for different kinds of jobs in the services industry,’’ Kharbih said.