Monday, June 04, 2007

Report: India has almost 3M prostitutes

NEW DELHI - India's minister for women and child development said Tuesday the country has an estimated 2.8 million prostitutes and the number is rising.
Renuka Chowdhury presented a study on "Girls-Women in prostitution in India" to the lower house of Parliament. She said more than one-third of Indian prostitutes entered the profession before age 18, the Press Trust of India reported.
She told lawmakers her ministry runs homes to provide shelter, food, clothing, counseling, rehabilitation and other facilities to victims of commercial sexual exploitation. She said another project is being implemented to combat trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation.


Ugly face of Human Trafficking

Ugly face of human trafficking comes to fore

By Manoj KarKendrapara: A Dalit youth from this coastal district of Orissa underwent a two-month-long nightmarish ordeal in Malaysia and escaped from the clutches of a well-knit human trafficking racket, bringing to the fore the plight of large number of unemployed local youths still stranded in that country in their quest for greener pastures.
Over two dozens of unemployed youths, mostly Dalits from Nahanga, Choti-Mangalpur, Charigaon, Kurutunga and Dhola villages under Kendrapara police station area, made their way to Malaysia courtesy job offers in the south east Asian country with attractive pay package by a Bhubaneswar-based placement agency.
The search for job has now proved abortive as the job seekers were taken for a ride. Even as two youths risking their lives made their safe return to their native village recently, fate of the rest of the group is still unknown in an inhospitable alien land.
Meanwhile, the shell-shocked poor parents have petitioned Orissa Chief Minister and sought the Malaysian embassy to intervene for the safe return of their wards.
"Some unemployed youths had headed for Malaysia earlier this year. The labour welfare wing of the local administration is inquiring to ascertain the exact number who migrated then. We have voiced our concern to the state government over the safety aspect of those still stranded in Malaysia. The human trafficking angle into the exodus is also being looked into," said Kendrapara District Collector Kashinath Sahu.
"It was God's desire that I have come back flesh and blood," quipped 28-year-old Manoj Mallick, a native of Nikirai hamlet.
We were lured away by the attractive pay package that the placement agency offered for the job in Kuala Lumpur's Omega wood industry. Being the fourth child of a poor dalit family, the offer was too tempting to decline, Mallick, a graduate from the local college, said.
"It was a voluntary decision to leave the country to provide economic support to poor parents. There was also little option left to earn a livelihood. But our venture has ended in trafficking. It is sheer good luck that I successfully fled from the tormentors to whom we were literally sold off human resources," Mallick, of dalit caste origin, narrated.
"As far as I know, five of our group are still languishing as illegal immigrants in Malaysia and are literally leading a caged life. They are Gayadhar Rout, Maheswar Rout (both brothers), Tara Charan Behera, Arikhit Sahoo and Ajay Kumar Swain."
"They have made phone calls to me as well as to their parents. Their voice is tinged in panic and fear and their plea is to bring them back from tyrannical employers.""Our nightmarish ordeal began right from 10 February, the very day we landed at Kuala Lumpur international airport."
"But the excitement over bright future in an alien land soon fizzled out. A man identifying as placement agent Razaq snatched away the passports and immigration visa and ordered us to board a jeep."
"It was a three-hour journey when we reached a hilly terrain with forest cover. We were given shelter under tin cover warehouse. There was human habitation in proximity. We were later terrified learning that it was a burial ground. Leaving us in the lurch, the agent turned up again after a week. We lived on charity of a Bangladeshi woman living about half-km from the place. The woman had married a local Malaysia man and offered us ration free.
"The agent later took us to the wood industry. We received the shock of our life after we were forced to do manual job like loading timber on the trucks. We were promised to do office work only.
"Left with little option, we toiled for eight to ten hours. There was little to eat and drink. We lived without food and water for most of the days. Accommodated in a makeshift shed in the heart of the jungle, we fought against animals, snakes and lizards. It was a terrible experience.
"It was March 12 midnight. Accompanied by Manguli Jena I fled from the labour camp. After nightlong trekking along the forest, we reached the mainland. Both of us boarded a Kuala Lumpur-bound bus. Our money was exhausted and we had nothing to eat.
"We were also running for cover as we were illegal immigrants. Our passport and visa was taken by the employer. A local Gurdwara gave us shelter for over a fortnight after coming to know of our plight. We helped the management in their daily work and they were gracious enough to feed us. Later we reached the India High Commissioner office as instructed by the Gurdwara management. A young lady officer took pity upon our plight and helped us a lot in arranging our return journey.


1 Uzbek, 2 Indian women held for immoral trafficking

1 Uzbek, 2 Indian women held for immoral trafficking
Express News Service 28 May 2007
Chandigarh, May 27: An Uzbekistan national, two women of Indian origin and five Indian nationals were nabbed from a hotel in Manimajra on charges of immoral trafficking on Sunday. The accused were caught red-handed while indulging in immoral trafficking and marked currency was recovered from their possession. While the Uzbek woman was allegedly charging Rs. 7,000 per day, the other two women were charging Rs. 1,000 per day from their ‘pimps’.
Those arrested include owners of Hotel Chander Palace, Manimajra, Deepak Sharma and Anil Sharma, residents of Mohali, Surinder Prasad Goswami, a Panchkula resident, Vikas Kumar, a New Delhi resident and Rohit Kalra, resident of Sector 6, Panchkula. Of the three women besides the Uzbekistan national who entered India on May 22, one woman belonged to Morigate, Manimajra and the other claimed to be a resident of Noida.
While Deepak and Anil, allegedly used to facilitate their clients in the hotel rooms, Vikas and Rohit Kalra used to arrange women from Delhi. Goswami, who works at the hotel, was the middle-man between Vikas, Kalra and the hotel-clients.
Acting on the information, the trap was set up by Sub-divisional police officer (Central) DSP SS Randhawa. Two teams of Crime Branch and police station-17 were constituted to nab the accused. Three police officers became decoy customers and approached the accused with Rs. 10,000 marked currency. The deal was struck and the accused were caught redhanded while the money exchanged hands. The money, which the accused had distributed among themselves, was recovered later.
The preliminary interrogation revealed that another Uzbeki woman, based in Delhi was running a racket of immoral trafficking with Uzbeki women who would come from Uzbekistan on contract basis, indulge in immoral activities, get their money and go back.
About over a 100 foreign nationals, staying in Delhi and Chandigarh are apparently running immoral trafficking rackets in the northern cities of the country. The details about the Uzbekistan woman, considered to be the mastermind behind this racket, were sent to Delhi police by officials of the Chandigarh Police on Sunday.
“We have already intimated our counterparts at Delhi. They might nab the kingpin soon. We will be producing these accused in the court tomorrow”, said Inspector Satbir Singh, incharge, Crime Branch.


The Company of Bad Men

The company of bad men
Friday June 1 2007 15:28 IST

Sumati Mehrishi

Traveling sex offenders (TSOs) are very much on the prowl at Indian tourist destinations. On May 9, Richard
Borodig, a British national was arrested from the Anjuna Beach, Goa. The paedophile-suspect is out on bail. Recently, the Tamil Nadu Police nabbed Alan Jay Horowitz, a US national listed among the 100 most wanted men in New York, in Mahabalipuram. Horowitz, a traveling sex offender and child psychologist was spotted in Bangalore before he came down to Mahabalipuram.

With Horowitz’s arrest, the issue of unregistered “children’s homes”is increasingly causing concern. This is what the Goa based NGOs have been trying to tell the media and people over the years; that tourism related paedophilia is not Goa’s problem alone, as is commonly believed. According to Nishtha Desai of Child Rights in Goa, an NGO based in Panjim, sexual abuses on children by tourists happen at other Indian tourist destinations as well, but the cases are never highlighted. “Kerala, Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and Mumbai, it’s happening all over India,” she says.

“I fear it’s going to get worse in India, as the trouble deflects from other countries owing to international pressure,” says, Thierry Darnaudet, President, Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), an NGO working against TSOs in Cambodia and India.

Vidya Reddy of Tulir, a Chennai based Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, agrees. She says, “With Sri Lanka, Thailand and Philippines strengthening their response toTSOs, an increasing trend of travel to India among this category of individuals has been reported by alarmed law enforcement in the source countries. Perhaps, they realise that child sex tourism is not considered a significant issue at the moment in our country; with our laws and their implementation fairly lax. There is no dearth of vulnerable children in our country who can be exploited.”

TSOs follow certain patterns in their movement. According to Thierry, “There are TSOs who come to Puri every year and travel to Darjeeling.” He adds, “They return to Puri and leave for Chennai from where they travel to Mahabalipuram, Kovalam (in Kerala) and Goa.” They believe in lying low if they fear a watchful eye and operate at some other tourist destination. They befriend their prey and pose as philanthropists.

In India, NGOs helping the police fight the menace have faced problems owing to lack of “proper” evidence and witnesses turning hostile. According to Desai, the ten year old girl who was seen being let out from the front door of Borodig’s house when the police came cracking down, says that the man “molested” her. One of the few cases where a child has talked about her offender, “however her statements have not been recorded under Section 164 Cr PC before the magistrate”. “The suspect-paedophiles, when out on bail usually operate through other people. We have to keep an eye on them,” adds Desai.

“Spend a night on the town with kids from Britain and Bombay in Baga”. This is no invitation to a children’s party at a seaside locality in Goa. Unfortunately, unnoticed so far by child rights activists in the country, this line in a chapter on North Goa in Lonely Planet, a travel guide shows how openly (or subtly) the state is being projected as a child sex tourism destination — an “image” the Goan government and NGOs are trying so hard to eliminate.

According to sources in the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI), “children’s homes” in Goa “are a classic case” of how funding the ‘have-nots’ is a cover up for suspected-paedophile activities. CBI, which is handling the Goa sex scandal involving children’s homes “is aware of the happenings in Mahabalipuram.”

Incidentally, it was in December 2006 that people at an NGO noticed that there was information on “children’s homes” in Mahabalipuram in Lonely Planet on Tamil Nadu. NGOs collectively wrote to Lonely Planet in February this year. “Lonely Planet wrote back saying that they will look into it,” says a volunteer at an NGO. A few months ago, Mahabalipuram saw the shutting down of unregistered “children’s homes”.

According to A Amalraj, Superintendent of Police, Kancheepuram, there are no specific cases of child abuse by TSOs reported in Mahabalipuram. He says,“We hardly receive any specific complaints of this nature in the area. We need to receive complaints to take action.”

TSOs and child sex abuse: Different Issues

When the Nithari case came into light, attention and arguments shifted from sexual abuse against children by traveling paedophiles to that happening at the domestic front. “Cases of child sex abuse (CSA) within the community are far more prevalent than cases of tourism related sexual abuse,” says Nishtha Desai. However, can we afford to ignore tourism related CSA? “It is important to address the problem and to prevent the institutionalisation of tourism related CSA,” adds Desai. Thierry believes that paedophilia is one end of CSA, where the person “once a paedophile will always remain a paedophile, hence is far more harmful than a child sex abuser.” He warns, “TSOs usually keep a back up of child pornography on their computers, so that once they return to their home country they can look at images. Plus, they will always look for children they can abuse at their home country. They have a number of victims, cutting across geographical boundaries.”

Our laws are full of loopholes. For instance, who will trace the several “missing” pedophiles in India? Why cannot the pedophiles be arrested when they are “lying low” waiting to strike in some other part of the country? Why is there a delay in prosecution? Why isn’t corruption among “lower ranks” of police at tourist destinations checked when the higher ranks and general public are aware of what is going on? What about keeping check on those Indian paedophiles who were convicted for child sex abuse in the US and deported to India, under Operation Predator, a crackdown by the US department of homeland security and immigration and customs enforcement ICE? They roam free. Sources from the CBI say, “ Indian investigating agencies and the police have little to do with the issue of deported criminals. The country’s legal system has to deal with the problem.” According to Chennai based advocate Geeta Ramaseshan, “There are issues of jurisdiction involved here. There has to be some act of crime in the country if a person has to be prosecuted.”

Also, the legal system, according to Ramaseshan does not use the word “paedophile” at all. “The law still has to a define a huge area in this respect. There are a few bills pending on the same issue. A lot of understanding of the existing laws is needed to bring the changes. I think, more important than the issue of bails are matters like evidence, the defining of the offence against children. Then, sensitisation of the judiciary is required. Remember, punishment for crime is a defensive mechanism. More important is to prevent it.” She points out.

An expert, on the condition of anonymity, has a few suggestions to make. He says, “To improve the situation in our country, we should first locate the missing paedophile-suspects. Next, we should be strict with laws and their implementation on paedophiles; like the kind of laws we have for people involved with narcotics. Paedophiles should be arrested, prosecuted and convicted in time and should be banned from entering India after they serve their sentence here. They should just not be given time to lie low. Also, there’s need for more advanced forensic labs in tourism destination states to handle such investigations.”

A volunteer from an NGO based in Tamil Nadu rues the fact that the issue of TSOs is of low priority in the list of crimes for the government and the police force. The Home Ministry should take some steps in this direction,” says she.

We are watching

Goa authorities have displayed warnings to suspected-paedophiles at various beaches. But due to the scanty presence of tourism police on Goa beaches, “unhealthy” interaction between tourists and children on the beaches goes unchecked.

At the Vagator beach, one of the few lesser crowded beaches in North Goa, “Sharon Stone” settles down on sand with a bowl full of strawberries. “You can call me Sharon Stone. My real name is difficult for foreigners like you to learn,” says she. “Anjelina”, “Kate”, “Julia” (usually from states like Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka) when they get back to selling sarongs, knick-knacks, souvenirs — throw names of hotels, middlemen, and sometimes phone numbers. No cop in sight, the only way to cut short the nuisance on beaches is to approach the restaurant owners (who provide the sun beds); do warn tourists and vendors against “any objectionable act”. From Vagator to Palolem, from Calangute to Colva, the trick really works. This way, visitors and local people can really help curb the problem at such open spaces. However, there’s another trend which Goans seem to ignore ; of single parents landing with their kids at shacks and beach side hotels. These tourists hire a local lad for “baby sitting” during the day; during the evenings, the local lad doubles up for the other job.

At Puri, another tourist destination which came in light for TSOs last year, Thierry says, “things usually pick up during the season time (November to January).” “I have got information on a few foreigners who take interest in clicking pictures of naked children on the beach. I just want to tell the TSOs that we are watching them.” he adds. Thierry believes that by being alert and watchful, you can really mount pressure on the paedophiles to move out of the locality.

TSOs-hotel-travel industry: The Nexus

NGOs and child protection organizations over the world are aware of the nexus between TSOs, hotels and the transport industry. Taking clues from the trends, ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), a network of organizations working worldwide to eliminate sexual exploitation of children has suggested a “code of conduct” for the hotel and travel industry. The code is currently implemented by 17 countries including Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. ECPAT runs programmes like, in-flight videos to warn travelers against child sex abuse. Air France, Corsair, Nouvelles Frontieres, Lufthansa and Austrian Air are already using it. “ECPAT USA has designed and distributed an educational brochure to inform Americans about the extra-territorial provisions of US law against child sex tourism,” says their fact sheet. In India, ECPAT’s ‘Please Disturb, an Inter-sectoral response to Traveling Sex Offenders’, was presented by Tulir in Chennai last year, to build awareness among the tourism and travel sector here. “We expect a lot from the hotel and travel industry in this regard. Their inputs can really help us crack down on such cases,” adds Amal Raj.

The vastness of our country and the sluggish judicial system shouldn’t really discourage any hope for improvement. So, the next time you see a suspicious element on the prowl at one of the tourist destinations, help authorities “mount pressure” on him. TSOs will then think twice before “deflecting” to India.

Around 70 per cent children don’t report abuse

More than 1 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade each year

An estimated 30 percent of the sex workers in Phnom Penh are under the age of 18

Out of the 9800 child sex offenders arrested in US under Operation Predator, 85 per cent are foreigners (including Indians)

Roughly around 10,000 paedophiles come to Goa each year and 1000 children are at risk in a single area in Goa

Number of children involved in the sex industry in India in 1994 according to ECPAT : 400,000