Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Inaguration of North East Media Coalition

Inaguration of the North East Media Consultation on Human Trafficking Jointly Organised By National Media Coalition on Gender Based Violence HIV/AIDS and Human Trafficking and supported by UNIFEM ,UNODC ,SHAKTI VAHINI & IMPULSE

Seen are Chief Minister of Assam Shri Tarun Gogoi, Ms Joyatri Ray UNIFEM , Ajit Joy UNODC , Shri Jay Shankar Gupta Hindustan and Reema Nagrajan Times of India

`Trafficking of women from Assam on the rise'

`Trafficking of women from Assam on the rise'
Sushanta Talukdar
Problem low on the list of priorities of police due to law and order problems
Refugees, homeless are easy targets
Batches of girls openly sold in Haryana, Punjab
Guwahati: Every year an average of 250 women and 200 girl children go missing in Assam who, the Assam Police fear, are being trafficked for sexual and labour exploitation to different parts of the country such as Haryana, Punjab, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Goa, Siliguri and Bihar.
This was revealed by Inspector-General of Police, Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Assam Police, G. Bhuyan at the three-day national media consultation on Human Trafficking, HIV/AIDS and Drug Trafficking which began here on Tuesday.
Mr. Bhuyan said that the actual figure of trafficked women and children might be higher as many cases are not reported. He expressed apprehension that the cases of trafficking of women and children from Assam to different parts of the country would go up in the coming days due to various factors such as poverty, structural inequalities, unemployment and intricate relations between demand and supply in the sex market and skewed sex ratio in states such as Punjab and Haryana.
The two-day media consultation was organized by the National Media Coalition in collaboration with the UNIFEM, Shakti Vahini and the Shillong-based Impulse NGO Network to build positive partnership for right based sensitive media reporting on these issues.
Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who chaired the inaugural session admitted that the problem of trafficking of women and drugs in the state was serious and stressed on the need for concerted efforts by government, law enforcement agencies, media and NGOs to change the mindset of the people and root out this menace.
The senior police official revealed that some of the target areas for trafficking include refugee camps of internally displaced persons due to the ethnic conflict between Bodos and the Adivasis, Char or riverine areas, people affected by flood, erosion, tribal and non-tribal girls from poor families, girls from broken homes and widows.
Mr. Bhuyan said that trafficked women and children were lured into marriage by making a token payment to their parents and then sold off, enticed by "so called recruitment agents who promise jobs in the unorganized sectors" and later sold off, lured to work as models, bar girls, at call centres and pushed into prostitution.
He said that due to preoccupation with counter insurgency operations and high priority for law and order duties, the problem of trafficking had been low in the list of priorities of the Police.
About the anti-trafficking measures initiated by the Assam Police, the IGP said that all district superintendents of police have been asked to ensure that all police stations and outposts under their jurisdiction give special attention to the investigation of crime against women with utmost seriousness. Besides, the police stations have been asked to maintain utmost vigilance at railway stations and bus stops.
Underlining the need for sensitive media reporting on trafficking, executive director of Shakti Vahini, Ravi Kant said trafficking for women from Assam to Punjab and Haryana has been on the rise due to the skewed sex ratio in these two states. In some cases minor girls in batches of four or five who have been trafficked from Assam are openly put up for sale at prices ranging from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 30,000 in some panchayats of Haryana, he said. Such girls are known as Paros in Haryana, he added.
Mr. Kant stressed on the need for law enforcement agencies of the states like Haryana, Punjab and Assam to work in close coordination to combat trafficking.

Bride vows to end groom’s marriage run

Bride vows to end groom’s marriage runAmrita DhaliwalTribune News Service
Lavkeri village (Karnal), October 18Thirteen proved unlucky for a 72-year-old man, Ramdhari, after his “13th” wife, Harbans Kaur (45), decided to stand up for herself when she learned about her husband’s past.
Harbans Kaur, who has vowed to bring Ramdhari to book, also alleges police inaction.
For Harbans Kaur, an uneducated widow with five children, marrying Ramdhari seemed like a good idea. “He promised to adopt my children and look after them,” said Harbans Kaur, who hails from Subri village, near Karnal.
Ramdhari took her to court in January and allegedly told her to put her thumbprint on a few pieces of paper, which she did, and told her they were married.
“He brought me home. I got pregnant and was just beginning to settle in when our neighbours told me that Ramdhari had many ‘wives’. They told me that my husband would suddenly bring a woman to the village; she would stay for a few months; and disappear till a new one arrived,” she said.
“My world crumbled. Every time I asked my husband about his previous marriages, he fought with me. He stopped giving me money to run the household and turned violent. The neighbours had to step in to protect me,” she said.
Ramdhari has been on the run for a month now. Two weeks ago, Harbans suffered a miscarriage after seven months of pregnancy.
Alleging police inaction, she said she went to the Indri police station to complain against Ramdhari but SHO Manvir Singh made her sign a “false” complaint.
In her complaint on October 9, Harbans alleged that Ramdhari had thrown her out of the house — when she was four months pregnant — and tried to misbehave with her daughter. The plaint further read Ramdhari had tried to kill her.
“I narrated my tale and a policeman typed out the complaint. I put my thumb impression on it. They are taking advantage of my illiteracy to settle a score,” she alleged.
She alleged that she had tried to lodge a complaint earlier when Angrez Singh was the SHO — before the present incumbent Manvir Singh replaced him — but Ramdhari bribed him to hush up the matter.
“I have complained at the Indri police station on numerous occasions before. They took my thumb impression on a complaint that was false. The SHO refuses to listen to me. Why is the police hushing up the issue?”
SHO Manvir Singh denied receiving any complaint from Harbans Kaur. He appeared alarmed on learning about Ramdhari’s 13 marriages but said he could only look into the matter if a complaint was filed.
Meanwhile, in Lavkeri, villagers, both men and women, are rallying behind Harbans. “Ramdhari has brought a bad name to our village. We will help Harbans and make sure he doesn’t ruin more lives,” said irate villagers.
They said Ramdhari first married in 1960, then in 1964 and then they stopped counting.
The villagers claimed that he had no children from any of his “wives”. “Ramdhari always brought in women who needed support and had children, women who had nowhere else to go to. And none of them was in the village for more than a few months,” said one of them.
None of the villagers was prepared to answer as to why they didn’t take action before Harbans stood up for her rights.
However, a villager in a muffled voice alleged that Ramdhari used to sell his “wives”, some of whom came from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and parts of Haryana.
According to Raj Singh Chaudhary, Co-ordinator, Shakti Vahini, Haryana, it was a matter that needed to be investigated.
“I don’t know whether he married these women or not. No marriage ceremony or ritual took place in the village. He would all of a sudden appear with a woman,” said Sukhdarshan, former sarpanch of the village.

Traffickers turn to north-east states for flesh trade

Traffickers turn to north-east states for flesh trade
Web posted at: 10/31/2006 7:42:24
Source ::: REUTERS
GUWAHATI • Human traffickers are increasingly turning to insurgency-wracked north-eastern states in their search for young girls to work in big city brothels, police and activists say.

Over the past five years there has been a rise in reports of missing girls from the remote region of eight states, an increase which authorities believe is due to trafficking.

Police say at least 700 girls from the region have been reported missing over the last five years, 300 of whom disappeared in 2005 alone.

But activists estimate thousands of north-eastern girls disappear every year — most of whom are not reported by families due to the stigma associated with being part of the sex trade.

“Substantial trafficking of girls is taking place from the region. People in the north-east have recently realised what human trafficking is,” said Ajit Joy of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in New Delhi.

Traffickers are mostly women, often well-known in their respective villages, who promise poor, rural families good jobs for their daughters, most of whom are between 12 and 16. But in reality, they sell the girls to brothel owners in towns and cities like New Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Kolkata, earning between Rs20,000 ($440) and Rs40,000 for each girl.

Police estimate that around 20 per cent of the girls in India’s big city brothels come from the north-east. At least one million Indian girls and women work in India’s sex industry which is estimated to be worth around Rs400bn ($9bn) annually, according to the UNODC.

The rise in the number of girls disappearing from states like Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh is partly due to tighter surveillance on India’s north-eastern border with Nepal, where most girls were being trafficked from before. Authorities say increased security along the border to curb Maoist insurgencies in both countries has deterred many traffickers, and the number of Nepali girls being brought into India annually has halved from around 10,000 three or four years ago. Twenty-year-old Jaya Basumatary from the northern Assam district of Udalguri, was rescued after a raid on a Delhi brothel last year. At the age of 16, she was taken by traffickers who promised her impoverished family that they would get her a job as a domestic maid, but in reality she was sold to a brothel where she was forced to cut her long hair, wear make-up and mini-skirts. She was sold three times to different brothels and raped repeatedly over three years before being rescued by police.

Despite being back home, Jaya will never escape her past. “Even now I am sad. I find no peace. Who can remove my stigma? My past memories still haunt me,” she said.