Saturday, September 02, 2006

Trafficking accused convicted despite victims turning hostile

Trafficking accused convicted despite victims turning hostile

2 minor girls from Nepal caught at airport with one-way tickets; NGO lays traps using decoys and nabs accused who claimed they were his sisters

Kavitha Chowdhury

New Delhi, August 30: IF Not for alertness of social workers/NGO activists, two more minor girls from Nepal would have been trafficked into the ‘red light’ area of the Capital. They not only rescued the girls, but also trapped the traffickers. Their ingenuity managed to get the traffickers convicted recently, even though the girls themselves turned hostile in court.
Anuradha Koirala, chairperson of the NGO, Maiti Nepal from Kathmandu, was at the IGI airport on her way to Germany when she noticed two Nepali girls who had arrived from Kathmandu. They seemed lost and were crying. Koirala talked to the two girls, and suspecting something amiss, contacted another NGO, STOP in Delhi, to take custody of the girls.
Says Roma Debabrata of STOP, “The girls said they were waiting for their brothers. They had one-way air tickets. We called up on the mobile numbers provided by them and one of the men who answered said he would come and pick them up. Although we waited for two hours, no one turned up.”

Suspecting that this was a trafficking ring, the STOP employees went about setting a trap to nab the traffickers. They called up the mobile number again the next day and asked the man, Yanden Lama, to come over to Ramleela Ground bus stop to receive his “sisters”.
Two women employees of the organisation were taken along, of them one was a Nepal national and the other spoke Nepali fluently. They were taken along as decoys in place of the two girls. When they reached the bus stand, they met a woman, Jal Maya, and the man named Yanden Lama. Says Debabrata: “The man and the woman identified our two employees as their sisters. Our doubts were confirmed and we now knew that these two had never seen the two girls from Nepal before. They intended to push these girls into prostitution. “Every other day, girls from Nepal are trafficked across the border and the traffickers pose as their close relatives.”
Debabrata assured them that she would drop them to their homes in Majnu ka Tila, but took them to the police station instead. Again, to confirm their suspicions, the two girls were shown another couple, and the two identified them as their brother and sister. The two, however, did not support the prosecution’s stand in the court. They denied that they had been lured to Delhi by false job promises and insisted that the accused were their relatives. Despite this, the court took cognisance of the circumstantial evidence and convicted the accused to three years’ imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000. The court took note of the fact that the accused had given contradictory statements. Moreover, the court observed that the girls had one-way air tickets and they were not received at the airport, which “clearly shows that the girls were imported to India”. In addition, the conduct of the accused and the girls provided “unrebutted and unshaken evidence” that the girls had been brought into the country for flesh trade, the court said. Looking at the financial position of the accused and the girls, the court said in its order, it does not appear that they could travel by air. Rather it appears that the girls did not intend to return to Nepal. The accused had failed to prove that the girls are their sisters.

New technology available to fan female foeticide

New technology available to fan female foeticide

Published: Saturday, 2 September, 2006, 10:14 AM Doha Time
By Maxwell Pereira

The unholy spectre of illegal sex selection to prevent or destroy female offspring - at the pre-conception stage or the pre-natal - just doesn't seem to stop. Even as the country is battling to remedy its skewed sex ratio, newer onslaughts are afoot through technology driven procedures available in cyberspace; the warped Indian brain is quick to learn and adapt with ulterior aims.
All in an effort to circumvent existing laws prohibiting sex selection for purpose of eliminating the very possibility of a girl child being born.
In early July, the media stumbled on to the increasing practice among Indian parents of accessing through the Internet facilities available in the US guaranteeing a male issue even at the pre-conception stage.
A process based on PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) or ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) technique that could make sex determination of the child possible at the conception level by taking one healthy sperm for fertilisation of the egg with freedom to chose Y over X chromosome.
New techniques have been developed in America, which combine the spectacular advances in molecular genetics and assisted reproductive technology (ART), to enable physicians to identify genetic diseases in the embryo, prior to implantation, before the pregnancy is established.
But PGD was developed for patients - especially those resorting to intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization - who were at risk of having children with serious genetic disorders, such as haemophilia, which often discouraged them having their own biological children. In genuine cases, PGD also offered parents to balance their family with equal number of girl and boy children.
Quick on the uptake to realise its commercial potential, websites of fly-by-night operators sprung up in the US offering the facility to Indian couples across the globe - and true to form with enough gullible or eager Indians to bite the bait for dubious use at the Indian end. Websites like, Tell Me Pink or Blue, GenSelect and which rural Punjabis quickly transformed to 'jantarmantar', and so on - offering home pregnancy kits for a dollar price translating to around Rs15,000 or less. Facilities to pack a blood sample to a lab in the US to know the baby's gender in a few days.
The increasing deficit of girls is also creating a social imbalance within society, with pockets in India where very few girls are born. Resulting in no brides for the burgeoning son population, with the prospect of having to import girls from other regions. Resulting in social problems of purchasing young girls from poor regions, women treated as commodities, contributing to further fall in their status in society.
This can only lead to further exploitation and abuse of women, violence against them, increased trafficking and sex trade, and re-emergence of practices like polyandry. Letting the cycle of discrimination and gender inequities to continue, fuelled now by newer and more accurate technologies for sex selection.
Alarmed over this latest threat, the union health ministry has addressed the ministry of information technology through the home ministry to initiate measures to ban or block these websites. The exact implications and the dimensions of the impact on Indian society of this new menace need study.
Especially when the battle is on against the nationwide plague of illegal sex selection through the ultrasound facility - that throws up gory cases of the Patran type with scores of aborted foetuses in doctors' backyard wells!
While the new threats would need the attention of the expert medical fraternity to suggest an appropriate course of action, the aspect of effecting dollar payment over internet, or through relatives abroad, would also need examination.
There is need for the ministries of science and technology, of communications and information technology, of finance and revenue (income tax) to be sensitive to the issue and be involved. - IANS

Friday, September 01, 2006

11th National Media Fellowship Programme,
2005-06Giving Voice to the Unheard
(For Print and Photo Journalists)

National Foundation for India has a Media Fellowship Programme for young, mid-career journalists. The fellowships would allow them to take time off from their routine beats to research and publish articles/photo essays on issues concerning the less privileged, that need to be high on the national agenda, but do not find mention there for a variety of reasons.The fellowships support pursuit of in-depth, creative field research on these concerns and writing about them with adequate evidence - qualitative and quantitative - to impact the public policy and the domain of social consciousness. Six fellowships will be awarded this year to print journalists, which include three fellowships supported by Sir Ratan Tata Trust. One fellowship will be awarded to a photo journalist. An additional fellowship supported by German Agro Action to a journalist in Jharkhand to research and publish articles on Role/Participation of Civil Society Organizations in Local Governance has been introduced this year.At the end of the fellowships period, the photo journalist will be expected to mount an exhibition of her/his works.In the past ten years, sixty-two media persons from across the country have availed of these fellowships. Journalists from small and regional language publications are encouraged to apply. Women journalists are particularly welcome. Applicants must have demonstrated commitment to the development concerns of the less privileged in society.

For Details see

Media Awards on reporting of Human Trafficking and HIV

Media Awards on reporting of Human Trafficking and HIV

Media can play a critical role in the prevention and control of trafficking and HIV/AIDS by increasing the knowledge and understanding among key stakeholders and people at large. The media can give a face to the issue, shape the debate and help determine the choices available.

It has been observed that reporting on such issues is a complex but an ever expanding area of work today. There is no doubt on the importance of the work that has been done. However there is still a need for continued, consistent and sensitive reporting on the issue. While journalists can be effective in influencing public knowledge and opinion on the clandestine nature of trafficking, there is an urgent need for action translating into commitment from the media and the public.

One of the fundamental and central elements of the UNDP-TAHA project is generating rights and gender sensitive responses to trafficking and HIV. To facilitate this process an innovative approach has been undertaken to mobilise and sensitize media for sensitive and priority reporting on issues of trafficking and HIV. The aim is to gain visibility/priority for the issue in both the national and local media – print as well as electronic.

As part of the media strategy, HDRN which is TAHA’s implementing partner is announcing media awards for the four best published and aired reports each, four for print and four for electronic, on issues related to trafficking and HIV.

The media personnel will be given two months to research, write and publish or air their work after filling the application.

The main objectives of the initiative are:
Help journalists improve the quality of reporting, in terms of comprehensive and sensitive reporting, on issues related to trafficking and HIV
Provide motivation for in-depth research, study and deliver reports on related issues to the subject
Reinforce participants' commitment to address the issue through their work

Awards are open to all categories of news media, specifically, newspapers, magazines, internet, radio and television; and all categories of media personnel including producers, photographers, artists, reporters, editors, etc.

The media personnel may participate in the initiative on a part-time basis and continue writing or reporting during the stipulated two month period. Participants are encouraged to do reporting based on their research and to experiment with different media or forms of writing. Participants are free to work from home, or base themselves wherever convenient. Preference will be given to reports written and published in regional languages.

Reports can be designed as a one off article or a series of in-depth articles, a radio or television special. When applying, applicants are not required to have a detailed project proposal; a broad outline is sufficient. Projects are expected to be diverse in focus and scope, while reflecting a strong emphasis on trafficking and HIV issues.

As part of the final selection process, short listed reports will be vetted by a three-member panel of renowned experts on the subject of anti-trafficking and media.

How to Apply


Entry is free and open to all Indian citizens over 18 years.
Research/reporting projects should be focused on trafficking and HIV issues in the Indian context. However, considering that trafficking is also an inter-country and cross- border issue reports highlighting such linkages will not be rejected.
Work must be published in the national or regional media during January – September 2006. Those submitting reports in the regional language should also provide an English translation of the same.
Any journalist, editor, or producer specializing in health reporting or wanting to do so is eligible. There is no age restriction, but media personnel should have at least five years experience.

Priority will be given to reports that are published/ aired and reach a mass audience specifically regional language. Priority will also be given to those reports having in-depth study.

To Apply
Please fill in the application form which is available on

Time Frame

The application should submitted by August 10, 2006.
Duration of the initiative: August 10 – October 7, 2006

The Award

The winners will be announced on October 10, 2006. The results will be notified by email or telephone.

Eight media personnel will be awarded Rs. 25,000/ - each (four from the print and four from the electronic media).

A certificate from be given from UNDP-TAHA and HDRN.

Award Criteria

Information provided in the report is useful to the public.
Information provided in the report could influence policymakers.
Report written in a simple and easily understood language and format.
Reporting facts that have not been reported so far – unearthing new facts relating to the subject.
Accurate and balanced information provided in a clear and structured fashion.
A creative journalistic approach would score brownie points.

For more details, you can contact:

HIV and Human Development Resource Network
J – 50, B.K. Dutt Colony
Jor Bagh Lane
New Delhi – 110003
Tel: 91.11.24652297/98

Sunday, August 27, 2006

18 arrested for involvement in child labour in Andhra

Vijayawada, Aug 19: Authorities in Andhra Pradesh have arrested 18 people for alleged involvement in a child labour racket and rescued 67 children, an official said today.

District collector Navin Mittal told reporters here that of these children, 41 belonged to Mantada village and most of them were employed in Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam. Some were even sent to other cities like Mumbai. 26 children were yet to be traced and the district administration has filed cases against the agents who hired them. Action would be taken against the employers, he said.

Mittal said the child labour racket had been going on for several years with the consent of parents. While a broker got Rs 1500 per child, the parents are given amounts between Rs 18,000 and Rs 12,000.

A total of 3,000 such cases were unearthed last year while 1,620 were exposed since April this year, he added.

A special school has been established from August 1 by Navajeevan Bala Bhavan under the sponsorship of the National Child Labour Project in Mantada, where educational and vocational training are provided to the rescued children. The school also provides a mid-day meal and Rs 100 as stipend per month to each child.

Some more schools will be set up in future, he said.

Of the 67 children, 26 belonged to Vijayanagaram, Srikakulam and Rajahmundry, and have been sent back to their respective places, he said.

In the district, seven mandals have been declared as child labour-free areas.

Human Trafficking - Second Most Profit-making Business in World

Bangalore, Aug 26: S B Uday Kumar, Co-ordinator, Campaign Against Child Trafficking (CACT) said on Friday August 25, that the human trafficking earns Rs 63,300 crores revenue every year all over the world.
Speaking at a one-day symposium on ‘child trafficking’, he said that according to a report from United Nations, human trafficking has emerged as the second largest profit making business in the world.
”As the human trafficking takes place secretively and is not seen in the public, it has not been able to strike the public attention,” he said.
He said that child abuse is widely found in the forms of forced and bonded labour, pornography, sex tourism, begging, smuggling, domestic labour and child marriage. Uday further said that the government needs to do a thorough follow up of such trafficking in the society.
Deputy Director to Women and Child Welfare Department N Munireddy said that the department has framed committees in Gram Panchayat, Taluk and District levels to prevent child trafficking.
These committees are headed by a Deputy Commissioner at the district level or a Gram Panchayat member at the Gram Panchayat level. The committee members also include people from a few local NGOs and officials from the women and child welfare department.
They will vigil the trafficking in their limits and if any such cases are found, they will bring it to the attention of he government. “We are planning to train these committees and bring awareness through workshop. This has been sanctioned in this budget,” he added.
However, he said that such workshops have already been conducted in Bidar, Gulbarga and Raichur in association with UNICEF.
Dr Sujatha of Makkala Sahayavani and Pankaja Kalmutt of CACT were also present.

Indians held in Nepal for trafficking

Indians held in Nepal for trafficking[ 25 Aug, 2006 1541hrs ISTIANS ]

KATHMANDU: Two Indian nationals have been arrested in Nepal on the charge of girl trafficking. The two men, whose names were given as KS Narayan and Parameshwar Pandey, were arrested in Nepalgunj town, for allegedly trying to take away a 10-year-old Nepali girl from the Shitalnagar area of the town, the official Rastriya Samachar Samiti said. However, the state media did not say when the men were arrested or give any further details. Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world, is also one of the worst victims of trafficking. Every year, thousands of women and children are trafficked across its southern border to neighbouring India, where they are either sold in brothels or forced to work as meagerly paid labourers or domestic help. Through India, they are also sent out to the Middle East countries.

UCAN: Human trafficking top rights challenge, Catholic nun tells interfaith leaders
UCANews (

RANCHI, India (UCAN) – A Catholic group in Jharkhand reached out to clerics of various religions to obtain their help in combating human trafficking.
Young women from the eastern Indian state are lured to major Indian cities with the promise of lucrative jobs and forced into the flesh trade, says Ursuline Sister Jemma Toppo, who coordinates the Jharkhand Domestic Workers' Welfare Trust.
"One of the most serious challenges facing human rights today" is human trafficking in its various forms, the nun told about 500 clerics from Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and traditional tribal religions during an Aug. 21 meeting.
The clerics came from various parts of the state for the gathering organized by Sister Toppo's group and the Jharkhand unit of Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children, an NGO.
The meeting in the state capital of Ranchi, 1,160 kilometers (720 miles) southeast of New Delhi, provided a forum for the clerics of all major religions in Jharkhand to address various social evils in the state.
It began with the Catholic nun asking the group whether the women and girls of their communities are safe away from home. "Are you aware where they are and what work they do?" she asked and urged them to try to understand the plight the women could face. "Only then you will be able to save your women and daughters," she added.
Sister Toppo listed poverty, illiteracy and a lack of awareness rampant in villages as "the root cause of the menace." According to her, agents visit villages with videocassettes showing rich houses and offices in cities and promise young women jobs if they go with them.
"They also use religious symbols to gain women's faith," said the nun, who heads Asha Kiran (ray of hope), a shelter for rescued domestic workers. Only "a robust response" from society can solve this problem, she asserted.
Speaking with UCA News after the meeting, Sister Toppo said the Catholic Church has made a tremendous effort to stop the trafficking of women and girls, and believes it has succeeded among Christian tribal people.
Catholic parents now keep track of their daughters working as maids in cities, but "we cannot reach fully" girls from traditional tribal and other groups. "That's why we want to involve priests of all religions," she explained, saying tribal and other groups revere and obey their priests.
Sanjay Mishra, president of Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children, agreed that only "concerted efforts" from all groups could tackle the "menace of trafficking." He told UCA News his group felt encouraged that clergy of all religions attended the meeting.
"We managed to convince them about the consequences of woman and child trafficking, and the importance of their role in stopping trafficking," Mishra explained. According to the activist, the clerics agreed to take up the matter seriously.
Several clerics later confirmed to UCA News that the meeting helped them understand the gravity of the situation.
Pundit Chandrashekhar, a Hindu priest, said saving women and children from flesh traders should be the foremost religious duty of the priests. He said indifference among priests of various religions has encouraged unchecked trafficking of women from Jharkhand, but their new forum would help the priests to jointly crusade against the social evil.
He commended the church's efforts to highlight the problem and agreed with Amar Dahanga, a Sarna (traditional tribal religion) priest, that the meeting opened their eyes "to save our women and daughters."
The Hindu priest said Hinduism reveres women as goddesses and accords them "special respect and place in the society."
The tribal priest noted that many girls who leave the villages never return, while some come back mentally and physically destroyed. "Most parents are illiterate and can be easily tricked," he added.
Rev. Abraham Soy, a pastor of the Protestant Church of North India, said the church had worked only within the Christian community to check the problem, but "after this meeting we will start working cooperatively."
Jesuit Father Linus Kujur, who attended the meeting, said the clerics have to work seriously to enlighten their people about criminals "masquerading as job agents" in the villages.

Police crack down on prostitution in Agra

Agra - More and more girls, some still infants, are being groomed to become prostitutes in the Taj Mahal city of Agra. But the police are determined to end it all.
The innocent girls, brought here from other parts of northern India, are being allegedly injected hormones to induce puberty. Some are being registered in schools with names of strangers as their mothers.
Agra Police freed about 20 girls, aged between 2 and 15, following half a dozen raids this month at the Basai red light zone, barely a stone’s throw from the majestic Taj, one of the world’s leading tourist attractions.
Only recently three girls were rescued from the house of a middleman engaged in women trafficking. Police say they were to be sold to ‘contacts’ in Mumbai.
In another raid, three girls, including a two-year-old, were freed. Five women and nine men were held on charges of trapping them in the flesh trade.
The police also rescued several girls from areas such as Mal ka Bazar, Kashmiri Bazar, Seo ka Bazar, Sir ki Mandi and Sikandra.
Apart from the ‘kothas’ (traditional prostitution joints), some up-market residential colonies like Shahid Nagar, Gulmohar Enclave and Awas Vikas Nigam were also searched.
All this is part of an ‘all-out war’ Senior Superintendent of Police Dinesh Juneja has launched against prostitution in Agra, which attracts thousands of Indian and foreign tourists every day.
NGOs and women’s groups have expressed concern over reports of young girls being injected with hormones to induce puberty.
‘Hormone injections can lead to many health problems including cervical cancer,’ Netra Pal Singh, counsellor at the All India Women’s Conference, told IANS.
Medical tests conducted on girls freed from the clutches of women who claimed to be their mothers revealed that they were not blood related.
One such woman, Reshma, claimed that the girls taken from her custody were her daughters. The police got her examined at the Government Women’s Hospital here where a doctor, Neeta Kulshrshtra, ruled that Reshma had never given birth to any child.
The girls had been tutored to say that Reshma was their mother.
Another woman from the Shahidnagar area also claimed that the girl she was living with was her daughter. A DNA test confirmed she was not.
The police have vowed to continue their crackdown on Agra’s booming flesh trade.
Said Rajesh Dwivedi, the officer who heads the Taj Ganj police station close to the marble monument: ‘We will step up our drive against prostitution.’