Thursday, November 09, 2006

Despite prosperity, literacy, girls’rights die a slow death

Despite prosperity, literacy, girls’rights die a slow death

DYFI meet calls for identifying the contributions of women

Express News Service

Lucknow, November 7: They have come from different states and speak different languages. But when it comes to asking them about the biggest problem being faced by young girls across the country, they reply in unison: “The will to be born and then, get married without dowry.” The young girls from 26 states from the country have come together for the 2nd All India Young Girls Convention, organised by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). The convention was inaugurated at the Gandhi Bhawan auditorium by former MP Subhashini Ali on Tuesday.

“Punjab may be one of the most progressive states of the country, but when it comes to talking about girl’s rights, we are far behind. Punjab reports the highest number of female foeticide incidents in the country,’ said Rajinder Kaur, a member from DYFI Firozepur Punjab. Associated with DYFI from the past 7 years, Rajinder says that progress has only added to the woes of the women in the state. “Foeticide is more amidst the educated people, so education may not help much. The need of the hour all over the country is to make these girls, who are born and brought into the world, to fight back and save their unborn sisters. I know that this problem is prevalent in UP too and through this visit, we want to stress on concrete action by looking out for ultrasound centres and urging people not to kill girls.”

For Devi, the joint president of the DYFI Tamil Nadu unit, girls all over the country are hit by several problems the moment they are born. “It is a man’s world out there and men only decide what a girl should eat, wear and study. Let alone that, men also decide whether a girl has to come in this world or not.” Devi says that although problems like foeticide and dowry were not prevalent in southern states like Tamil Nadu a decade ago, but globalisation has brought these problems there too. “We never heard of dowry in our childhood, but today girls are being killed and tortured because of dowry in Tamil Nadu,” said Devi.

Like Devi, P Sajitha, the DYFI Central Executive Committee member from Kerala, too, said that the devil of dowry is eating up a number of girls in a state which had always prattled about its higher sex ratio and matriarchal society. “The pluses of Kerala are now being overtaken by the minuses like the dowry system and increasing number of crime against women,” said Sajitha. She said that during her interaction with her fellowmates from UP, she has realised that girls in UP also face similar problems, and infact, only worse. Other girls like Mafuza Khatun from Andhra Pradesh, Shakuntala Basumalai from Tamil Nadu, B Nirmala from Tripura, Dipti Saha from West Bengal and Renu Singh from Uttar Pradesh too opined similar sentiments.

Addressing the girls at the convention, Subhashini Ali said that it is high time we identify the role of girls and ensure that their issues are brought to the forefront. “Look at these girls who have come here. While those from Tripura and Assam have fought against terrorism in their states, the girls from Punjab are fighting against foeticide and those from UP are fighting against domestic violence. All of them have managed to emerge victorius, which is a big achievement for them. And organisations like DYFI should identify their contributions,” said Ali.

Govt to compensate victims of trafficking

Chetan ChauhanNew Delhi, November 7, 2006,The Hindustan Times

The Ministry of Women and Child Development will compensate victims of human trafficking in an attempt to integrate them into the social mainstream. They will now be on a par with rape victims. Ministry sources said the proposal is an extension of a "pilot scheme" underway in districts where trafficking of women and children is rampant. "We propose to increase the scope of the scheme to the entire country," a senior ministry official told the Hindustan Times.

Under the scheme, envisaged for the 11th five-year-plan, the Centre will provide funds for the rehabilitation of women rescued from brothels or red-light areas and the state governments will chip in with infrastructure and logistics.Statistics cite that over 1.5 lakh women are traded in India every year and most of them land up in red-light areas or work as semi-labour in industrial cities.

The 2006 Trafficking of Persons report said India has failed to furnish evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking. United States has put India under Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year. A ministry official said the scheme would help those who are not accepted by their families when they return. "We have found that many rescued women go back to the brothels as they face harassment back home," an official said, quoting recent reports.

The ministry also observed that the trafficking network has spread to poor districts and areas hit by natural calamities. For the first-time, each state and Union Territory has appointed nodal officers tasked with the job to co-ordinate efforts to check human trafficking. Four regional cells have also been constituted. "Enforcement of law can only work when the rescued victims get a chance to start life afresh. And, the way is vocational training and a compensation package," an official explained, adding that the amount will be decided after consulting the Planning Commission.

A study by the Centre of Concern for Child Labour has identified four pockets with high incidence of human trafficking.

Bonded slavery in modern times

Bonded slavery in modern times


The Telegraph Kolkatta: Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Like every 12-year-old in Tilwari (in Chainpur), her days were divided between some work and more play, till the day “agents” from employment agencies talked her parents into sending her off to “earn” in the city. So little Jasmine Beck (name changed) was packed off to Ranchi with the so-called agents, to what her parents imagined to be a “better life”. Jasmine’s better life comprised hungry and captive days, being branded with hot iron and being inducted into the flesh trade. When she became pregnant, her captors pushed drugs into her, to abort the baby. Once “cleaned”, her “travels” continued as she was sold to a broker, who trafficked her to Bangladesh, Pakistan and finally to Calcutta. Some seven years later, Jasmine, then 19, was rescued and brought to a Ranchi remand home (Asha Kiran) that was set up in 2001 and is run by the Jharkhand Domestic Workers’ Trust (JDWT).

Perhaps a lot has been said and written already. The case for human trafficking (transportation of men and women — adults or minors — as commodities for physical and sexual labour) is a phenomenon that grows by the day. Most of the young people are pushed into the sex trade. (India, like Thailand and Philippines, has 1.3 million children in its sex-trade centres).
And there are many more children, who slave away in the various households across the country.Even a relatively new organisation like the JDWT reports that so far they have been able to rescue more than 270 girls from New Delhi alone. The organisation’s reports also indicate that around 45 per cent of the trafficked girls, who are encouraged to run away from their homes by agents and brokers, or are “officially” taken out with the parents’ consent, are pushed into the flesh trade. Barring one or two occasions, when police help was sought, in most cases, JDWT volunteers, with active cooperation of citizens, carried out “rescue” operations.
Information often comes from relatives, friends, self-help groups and JDWT and the parent organisation National Domestic Workers Trust (NDWT) volunteers. NDWT has a network spread over 22 states in India.

But often being rescued is not good enough, as often it becomes difficult to mainstream such kids (they are kids mostly). Ostracised by the society and sometimes not accepted by their parents, they often are too disturbed to respond to the counselling that they are offered.
At Asha Kiran, Jasmine is a “problem” child. She remains virtually incommunicado and refuses either to attend school like the other girls or to attend the many courses — that includes tailoring and embroidery — run by the authorities.JWDT coordinator Sister Jemma says: “Even when the girls are rescued, they impart little or no information. It is only through intensive counselling sessions that go on for days that we are able to put in place a complete story related to us in bits. The counselling of course, is done by a trained group of professionals and me,” Toppo says.

Asha Kiran was formed by a group of Jesuit sisters. In 2001 Sr. Jemma took over as the coordinator. When it began, the organisation had no remand home to speak of, that is till Sr. Jemma chanced upon a three-storied unfinished structure built by the state welfare department, on the Ursuline School premises. Sr. Jemma unsuccessfully approached the state government to finish the structure, originally meant to be a working-women’s hostel. When that did not work out, Rotary Club of Belgium and Ranchi South along with some worthy citizens rose to the cause. Thus the remand home came into being. Now, the centre successfully runs several programmes for the rescued children that include classes on leadership building and special classes on children’s rights. There are also vocational courses — tailoring and embroidery —held for the kids. The organisation, follows a step-by-step programme of rescue, rehabilitation and mainstreaming (when they are considered capable of an independent life). But the rescued girls at Asha Kiran are yet to reach the age or the maturity, when they may be mainstreamed, as of now.

Increasingly, places like Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar are becoming breeding grounds for many “agents” who lure young boys and girls outside the state. In case of the girls, deprived of education, property and inheritance or economic options, many of them are often forced into child marriage and are eventually left with no options other than prostitution when they have to earn their own living.In the face of abject poverty and with a strong demand for young girls in the cities’ red-light areas or brothels, young girls or women fall prey to the trafficker first and later to the system that runs the world of flesh trade. It is not that all is lost, when it comes to the cause. Some organisations like the JDWT, has managed to compile a near comprehensive list of several hundred recruiting agents located in Delhi who despatch their agents to the rural areas of Jharkhand to lure young girls . “Worse still, many of the offices have Christian and tribal names,” Toppo said.

But the biggest problem remains the government’s low prioritisation of the particular problem. Though there is occasional help (in terms of rescue and grants), on the whole the Indian administration refuses to talk about the issue that has been under the glare of the international spotlight for years now. Till the time the problem is treated, there will be several such stories. Unfortunately, not everyone of them will have an Asha Kiran to fall back on.

Court flays minor girls' detention

Madras High Court sets Juvenile Justice Board order
One of detenus has a 30-days-old child and lives with HIV/AIDS

CHENNAI : The Hindu Nov 7 Flaying a Juvenile Justice Board order detaining two minor girls for three years under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, the Madras High Court set aside the order on Monday saying the order showed non-application of mind. The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice K. Chandru, was passing orders on a taken up writ petition, relating to the conditions of Government vigilance and shelter homes in Tamil Nadu.
The two girls, found guilty of "soliciting," were housed at the Government Vigilance Home in Mylapore, Chennai. Their plight came to light after a visit by S. Vimala, Director of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy. While one of the detenus has a six-month-old child, the other has a one-month-old child and was living with HIV/AIDS.Two service organisations — CHES and Manushya -- had informed the court that they would accommodate the victims and take all necessary steps for their treatment, reintegration and rehabilitation. The victims had expressed readiness to undergo rehabilitation training.

G.M. Akbar Ali, Member-Secretary of the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority, had filed a report in the court stating that there was no reason for the detention of the two juveniles, "who cannot be strictly treated as accused under any of the provisions of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act." The judges also asked Mr. Akbar Ali to take necessary steps to coordinate with the State Legal Service Authority of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra to ensure the repatriation of other inmates who expressed a desire to go home. The Bench also expressed concern at Ms. Vimala's finding that no steps had been taken by the authorities for the reintegration and rehabilitation of the victims, and that the victims were kept in continued detention "without any inquiry and without any basis." The judges said: "It is highly deplorable and heart-rending to note that many poverty-stricken children and girls in the prime of youth are taken to flesh market and forcibly pushed into the flesh trade, which is carried out in utter violation of all canons of morality, decency and dignity of humankind."

Referring to the alarming increase in human trafficking, the Bench said, "the right against exploitation is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India under Article 23. Trafficking in human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited. Any contravention of this provision shall be punishable in accordance with law."
The Bench also asked the Member-Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority and the Director of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy to jointly inspect all vigilance homes/shelter homes/rescue homes in the State and submit a report in two months.
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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bihar launches campaign against child labour

Patna, Nov 06: The Bihar Government on Monday launched an "integrated campaign" to enforce the revamped ban on child labour in non-hazardous occupations and the hospitality and entertainment sectors.

"We are embarking on a nine-day integrated campaign in which awareness will be created about the ban on child labour which warrants penal action under the modified sections of the Child Labourers (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 1986 which came into effect from October 10, 2006," Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi told reporters.

The campaign has been named 'Bachpan Ho Azad (let childhood be free)' and several NGOs, including UNICEF, Bachapan Bachao Andolan and Nidan would carry it out, Modi, who also holds the labour portfolio, said.

According to the 2001 census in Bihar, 5.4 lakh children were "main workers", who worked for over six months, while 5.8 lakh were "marginal workers", who worked for less than six months, he said.

Earlier, the employment of child labourers in hazardous jobs alone was prohibited, but as per the new amendments, employment of children below the age of 14 years as domestic help, in roadside eateries, resorts and entertainment centres has also been declared illegal.

"Now there are provisions to slap a fine of Rs 20,000 or imprisonment for a year or both on those employers who violate the legislation," he said.

'If men have a problem, they should speak up'

'If men have a problem, they should speak up'
Nilanjana Bhaduri Jha

[ 7 Nov, 2006 0030hrs ISTINDIATIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

When she first entered Parliament as a young Rajya Sabha MP, she was hailed as the real-life Rajni, after a popular TV character who took up cudgels for the underdog. So many years later, as the first-ever Minister for Woman and Child Development, Renuka Chowdhury is doing something similar, this time pushing through a few days ago, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, a law that already has many crying foul. With characteristic candour, the feisty minister demystifies the new law in a chat with

From the day the new law came into force, Netizens have been writing in with myriad questions on its efficacy, fairness and extent. Before all else, we posed to the minister some questions asked repeatedly by our readers: