Thursday, August 24, 2006

Using nearly nude pictures, child sex sites test laws

In the photograph, the model is shown rising out of a bubble bath, suds dripping from her body. Her tight panties and skimpy top are soaked and revealing. She gazes at the viewer, her face showing a wisp of a smile that seems to have been coaxed from off-camera. In just over seven months, the model has become an online phenomenon. She has thousands of fans from around the world, membership lists show, who pay as much as $30 a month to see images of her.

According to the posted schedule, new photographs of her many clearly intended to be erotic, all supposedly taken that week are posted online every Friday for her growing legions of admirers. The model's online name is Sparkle. She is at most 9 years old. Sparkle is one of hundreds of children being photographed by adults, part of what appears to be the latest trend in online child exploitation: Web sites for pedophiles offering explicit, sexualised images of children who are covered by bits of clothing all in the questionable hope of allowing producers, distributors and customers to avoid child pornography charges. In recent months, an array of investigations of the child pornography business have contributed to wholesale shutdowns of some of the most sexually explicit Internet sites trafficking in child images.

But they have been rapidly replaced by a growing number of these so-called model sites, Internet locations that offer scores of original photographs of scantily clad under-age children like Sparkle, often posed in ways requested by subscribers. More than 200 of the sites have been found by the New York Times through online advertising aimed at pedophiles, and a vast majority focus mostly on one child. Almost all kids appear to be between the ages of 2 and 12.

Based on descriptions in online customer forums and in Web pages showing image samples, the children are photographed by people who have frequent access to them. The sites often include images of "guests": children who are described as a friend of the featured child, but who appear for only a day. The sites say the children come from different parts of the world. Based on the images and wording from online advertisements, the sites show toddlers wearing tight thongs, and slightly older children posing evocatively, wearing makeup.

There is even a site that offers images of kids who appear to be 5 or 6 years old, wearing just diapers. In online conversations observed by NYT over four months, pedophiles portrayed model sites as the last of a shrinking number of Internet locations for sexual images of minors. "I considered authors of those sites as leaders of a rebellion movement for child porn," a man calling himself Heartfallen wrote in an online site for pedophiles, discussing the decline in the number of sites featuring images of naked minors. "They've vanished. There's much less freedom on the Net now. We still have a rebellion of non-nude child modelling sites. But are they going to suffer the same fate as their predecessors?"

NYT News service

PM Calls For More Efficient And Effective Judicial Machinery

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PM Calls For More Efficient And Effective Judicial Machinery

19 August, 2006

Emphasizing the need to protect the rights of the weak and the dispossessed and to make rule of law a living reality for millions of our people, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh called for a more efficient and effective judicial machinery.

Inaugurating the National Meet on Social Justice and Legal Empowerment organized by the National Legal Services Authority here today, the Prime Minister observed that it is the responsibility of each of the pillars of our democracy - the executive, the legislature and the judiciary itself. "I assure you that our Government will extend full support to the judiciary to realize these shared objectives of good governance", he added.

Stating that an effective, efficient and humane judiciary is an essential foundation of good governance, Dr. Singh said, "The greatest challenge in this regard is in fact at the bottom of the pyramid where most of our citizens come in contact with the judiciary. The lower courts, the district courts, the courts that deal with petty offences, these are the ones that must be sensitized most to the concerns we are dealing with today. They are at the cutting edge of our governance."

Expressing concern over the delays in disposal of cases and the consequent backlog, cost of litigation, probity - or the lack of it - in some sections of the judiciary, Dr. Singh stressed that it is incumbent upon any healthy institution to continue to reflect from time to time on its role, on the expectations from it and on the scope for improvement.

The Chief Justice of India, Union Minister for Law and Justice, senior Judges of the Supreme Court, several Chief Ministers and legal luminaries participated in the function.

Following is the full text of the Prime Minister's address on the occasion.

"I am delighted to inaugurate this very important meeting on social justice and legal empowerment. I compliment the National Legal Services Authority for bringing together important representatives of the judiciary, the legislature, the Executive branch of Government and civil society representatives to discuss issues of vital concern to our people and to the future of our country.

I convey my very sincere appreciation of the wise and supportive leadership provided to the National Legal Services Authority by the Hon'ble Chief Justice, Justice Sabharwal and Justice Balakrishnan, Chairman of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee. Under his chairmanship this Authority has undertaken laudable efforts to empower our citizens. Our Government will extend full cooperation to the judiciary in this noble endeavour. I hope we can all work together to realize the underlying social vision of the authors of our Constitution and the wisdom and knowledge of the founding fathers of our Republic.

Our Government believes that democracy has no meaning for the citizens unless the citizen is able to secure his basic human rights, namely education, employment and the right to live a life of dignity and self-respect. It is in this context that the social and economic revolution that is now under implementation in a country like India has great significance for the future of entire humankind. Nowhere else you find a country of a billion people seeking its social and economic emancipation in the framework of an open society and an open economy and a polity committed to the rule of law and respect for fundamental human values. Our success will have profound implications for the evolution of humankind and the progress it makes in this twenty-first century. It gs without saying that along with economic and social empowerment of the people, legal empowerment is an important means to each of these ends. And that's why, the great importance of the work that you are engaged.

Our government has taken several initiatives to revitalize our judicial system and legally empower our people. The National Common Minimum Programme places great emphasis on legal empowerment of all sections of our society, particularly the weaker sections. It is our sincere commitment to make our judicial section sensitive to the rights and needs of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes, minorities and above all our women.

I am proud of the fact that the National Legal Literacy Mission is working hard to enable our people to derive the full benefits of the legal rights they enjoy as citizens of our proud Republic. Often the ignorance of law comes in the way of people asserting their rights and discharging their obligations. If people do not know the law, how can they be expected to abide by it? This becomes a major hindrance to the successful implementation of any legislation and contributes to the violation of laws. A large number of cases of violations are due to low legal literacy. Hence the Legal Literacy Mission seeks to promote legal awareness, redressing social and economic imbalances.

I am, therefore, very happy that the National Legal Services Authority has taken the initiative to implement Project Nyaya Sankalp. This project aims to sensitise our judiciary to the cause of social justice and seek social protection for victims and survivors of trafficking and HIV/AIDS. I compliment you on making this one of the areas of focus of your meeting today.

Sensitising each of the institutions of our democracy to the needs and concerns of the under-privileged is one of our top policy priorities. As I said earlier this week, in my Independence Day address to the nation, the rule of law can become a living reality for millions and millions of our people, only if the rights of law-abiding citizens are effectively protected and safeguarded. Only if justice is seen to be delivered and delivered in time only if the rights of the weak and the dispossessed are protected.

For this we need a more efficient and more effective judicial machinery . A humane and a well-equipped judiciary. This is the responsibility of each of the pillars of our democracy - the executive, the legislature and the judiciary itself. I assure you that our Government will extend full support to the judiciary to realize these shared objectives of good governance.

I say this because there are concerns often voiced in various quarters about the delays in disposal of cases and the consequent backlog that has built up over the years. There is concern about the cost of litigation and the cost of obtaining justice. There is growing concern also about probity - or the lack of it - in some sections of the judiciary. I have said this before, and I say this again, that we take great pride in the quality and effectiveness of our judicial system. But in the larger scheme of governance, it is incumbent upon any healthy institution to continue to reflect from time to time on its role, on the expectations from it and on the scope for improvement. This will help us take steps to improve our performance and to meet the fast changing needs of the times that we live in. Above all, it will make our justice delivery system more sensitive to the needs of the poorest of our people. Especially those who are most discriminated against in our society.

A judicial system is a dispute resolution system and it must be recognized as a "service" which provides consumers expeditious and effective resolution of these disputes. It offers a mechanism for the enforcement of rights and obligations of individuals, a function which is essential in a functioning polity or for that matter a functioning economy. Therefore, an effective, efficient and humane judicial process is an essential foundation of good governance particularly in a country like ours, committed to the rule of law.

The greatest challenge in this regard is in fact at the bottom of the pyramid where most of our citizens come in contact with the judiciary. The lower courts, the district courts, the courts that deal with petty offences, these are the ones that must be sensitized most to the concerns we are dealing with today. They are at the cutting edge of our governance.

I sincerely hope this interaction between the political executive, state and district level officials and members of the judiciary will help us work together in the service of our people. I wish your deliberations all success."

Trafficking for flesh trade becoming 'lucrative' business: NGO

Trafficking for flesh trade becoming 'lucrative' business: NGO
Mumbai, Aug 20: Human trafficking for flesh trade is one of the ''most profitable'' business mushrooming these days, next to the trade in arms and narcotics, a city-based NGO has found in a study.

Save The Children India (STCI) programme coordinator Vaishali Canisius here said, ''89 per cent of the total trafficked girls in the world are sold in India for flesh trade, a quarter of the trafficked victims in India are children below 16 years, and the average age of the trafficked victims from Nepal to India is 10-14 years old.''

''The problems of sex tourism and trafficking of children have to be perceived as a gross human rights violation,'' Canisius said.

Citing instances, she brought the case of Meena (name changed) who was inducted into flesh trade at the age of 10. She said at times these girls leave their home to be independent, earn a living and have a good life, but it is only later that they realise what they got into.

She also cited the case of another victim, who is now suffering from HIV and multiple sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) after being trafficked and forced to indulge into flesh trade.

As per the US State Department, the trafficking in persons' report of June 2006, places India on Tier-II watch list for a third consecutive year for its inability to show evidence of increased efforts to address trafficking of people, particularly its lack of progress in forming a national law enforcement response for inter-state and transnational trafficking crimes.

Canisius also pointed out that at times, these cases do raise consciousness among people, but more needs to be done.

She cited the case of a young girl trafficked to Mumbai from Kathmandu, to indulge in flesh trade. However, the victim later fell prey to STDs and finally died of them.

''The positive fallout of her case was that certain amount of consciousness was generated in Nepal against trafficking of girls. In response, the governments of India and Nepal signed a treaty in 1985 for the rescue and repatriation of Nepali girls from Indian brothels,'' she mentioned.

She said, even after several steps were taken to save and rescue these young victims, the plight of rescued child prostitutes is no better than what it was before.

Just getting them away from the brothels is not enough, but what is more important is to look into their health, rehabilitation and other aspects to provide them a normal life, which unfortunately is yet to be done in a proper way, she said.

Bureau Report

Bihar gaining notoriety

Dipak Mishra[ 22 Aug, 2006 0258hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

PATNA: Prayas Bharati, a voluntary organisation, has rescued over 90 girls from being trafficked in Patna Junction alone during the past one year. On August 15 last year, the NGO opened a Women Line, a 24-hour helpline on platform no. 1 to rescue trafficked women. "The age of the victims appear to be getting younger and younger thanks to the increasing awareness on HIV and AIDS. There is a demand for younger girls in brothels across the country by customers," said Hitesh Kumar, a volunteer of the NGO.

He recalled that earlier this year three sisters hailing from Jalpaiguri in West Bengal were rescued while being taken Delhi in the pretext of giving them jobs. Over 350 kms away another NGO Bhoomika Vihar has been operating from Jogbani and adjoining areas. "During the last four years we have been able to rescue 300 Nepali girls being trafficked to Delhi and abroad. There was one case in which six girls were being trafficked to Kuwait," said Arun Kumar of the NGO insisting that trafficking of women both from within Bihar and from Nepal has been increasing. "All the conditions needed for human trafficking like gender discrimination, poverty and illiteracy are present in the region," said Arun. The number of NGOs working against trafficking has risen.

All of them point out that Bihar is a source, transit point and destination for trafficked victims. "Inside the country the most favoured destinations is Delhi and Mumbai. Inside Bihar it is Muzaffarpur — where the brokers get the highest price for trafficked girls," said another volunteer. However, despite funds being made available to NGOs by donor agencies, they complain that there is very little support from law enforcing agencies. "Even though para-military forces like SSB and the local police help us in saving trafficked victims, it is not in their priority list and there appears to be very little awareness about the implications of trafficking," Arun said. Even volunteers of Prayas Bharati say though the GRP hand over victims to them for rehabilitation, the trafficker is never caught or any case is registered against them. "Human trafficking in Bihar is the third largest trade after arms and drugs," said Prayas Bharati Trust founder and social activist Suman Lal. She said the government wasn't serious on this issue yet.

"The state government formed a state-level task force last year to combat trafficking. The forum has not held a single meeting till date," she said insisting that the law to tackle trafficking needed to be rectified. She pointed out that there have been cases in Bihar in which the trafficked victim has been made accused in police cases.

Incidentally, the Supreme Court notice to seven states, including Bihar, seeking a report on the status of trafficking appears to have stirred the government machinery. A meeting with NGOs and government officials on the subject is to be held soon.