Saturday, August 04, 2007

The wage of innocence: Rs 1 for a kilo of foam

Tarannum Manjul & Rajendra Khatry


August 1 Indian Express: Administration officers of Haryana conducted a raid at a foam factory in Karnal, Haryana on Wednesday and rescued 14 child workers — all from the Dhanauli and Narayanpur villages in Barabanki district, UP.

The factory, Bhagwati Enterprises Ltd in the Nissing block, employed these children in cutting foam and paid them Rs 1 for a kilogram. The factory owner Pramod Kumar and manager Sanjay Kumar, who told the Karnal police that they was not aware these children were minors, have been issued challans by the Labour Department under the Child Labour Act, Payment of Wages Act and the Payment of Gratuity Act.

NGO Shakti Vahini Sanstha, which is actively involved in child and women welfare, played an active role in the rescue of these children. Social worker Rishikant of the Shakti Vahini said the children had written a letter to a local Hindi daily in Karnal about their difficulties. “All children were in the age group of 8 to 13 years. The owner told us he could not distinguish their age though it was evident on their faces,” Rishikant said.

Deputy Commissioner of Karnal B S Malik said the children are at present in the Madhuban Bal Bhawan. “They will be sent to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Rohtak tomorrow to ascertain their exact age. Most children want to go back home, so we have called their parents,” Malik said. It is learnt that a total of 22 children were rescued from the factory but 8 were let off because they looked over the age of 14 years. SDM of Karnal R K Singh was also present during the raid. Superintendent of Police, Karnal, A S Chawla said that two among these have families nearby. Sources in the Karnal district administration have also revealed these children were working in the factory for several months. Initially, one was brought from UP and then the others followed.

Meanwhile, Newsline has found that parents of these children were aware the kids were being sent off to work in Karnal. However, they thought the work would be good. Since these villages are under heavy floods, it was difficult to trace the parents. But one village pradhan Moinuddin defended the decision to send away the children. “The parents had no idea the children would be exploited in such a manner. We are waiting for the administration to contact us so that we can get back our children,” he said. A local NGO Pani has also assured that the children will reach their parents.

The district administration of Barabanki has been informed about the rescue. The Chairman of the Central Child Labour Welfare Board Ajit S Kataria said he will try and ensure they are back safely. Superintendent of Police in Barabanki Shachi Ghildyal said she will find out if an organised gang is operating in this child-trafficking business.

Former general secretary of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee Gyan Sohota has lauded the efforts of the district administration in rescuing the children. “Poverty forces children to work. But the society should be aware that child labour is a crime,” he said.


Friday, August 03, 2007

NHRC gets compliance report form States and UnionTerritories on Vishakha guidelines

New Delhi July 30, 2007 All the States and the Union Territories have made necessary amendments in their conduct rules and regulations to implement the Supreme Court's guidelines on sexual harassment at the workplace.

The National Human Rights Commission, which had been supervising the implementation of the guidelines, has been given the compliance reports by all the States and Union Territories in this regard.

In the year 1997, the Supreme Court issued the Vishakha guidelines on sexual harassment at the workplace. The inception of the guidelines came about after Bhanwari Devi, a 50-year-old social worker in Rajasthan fought the practice of child marriage as a part of her job as saathin in the villages. The upper castes were taken aback by the action of Bhanwari Devi who challenged their tradition, despite belonging to a lower caste. Five men from the upper caste family of the child gangraped her in the presence of her husband. To add to her miseries the village authorities, the police and doctors all dismissed her situation and the trial court acquitted the accused. Appalled at the blatant injustice and inspired by Bhanwari Devi's unrelenting spirit, saathins and women's groups all over the country launched a concerted campaign to bring her justice. They filed a petition in the Supreme Court under the collective platform of Vishakha, asking the court to take action against sexual harassment faced by women in the workplace. The result was the Supreme Court judgment of 1997, popularly known as the Vishakha guidelines.

According to the Supreme Court guidelines, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome physical contact or advances; demands or requests for sexual favours; sexually-coloured remarks; displays of pornography; other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

The judgment created mandatory sexual harassment prevention guidelines for the workplace, applicable all over India. All employers or responsible heads of institutions must institute certain rules of conduct and take preventive measures to stop sexual harassment in the workplace. The guidelines direct employers to set up complaints committees within the organization, through which women can make their complaints heard. These complaints committees must be headed by women, and at least half its members should be women. To prevent undue pressure from within the organization, the committee should include a third-party representative from a non-governmental organization or other individual, conversant with the issue of sexual harassment.

The National Human Rights Commission took up the issue and consulted with government departments, private institutions/agencies as well as NGOs with a view to set up a complaint mechanism. The Commission supervised the implementation of the guidelines and the norms of the Supreme Court and now has the compliance report from all the States and the Union Territories.


India developing first anti-sexual harassment law

ndia's government is tackling criticism on all sides while trying to create its first-ever legislation to stop sexual harassment at work.

The proposed law aims to put an end to everything form dirty jokes to physical abuse. However, some critics say the law is too flimsy while others say it's open to abuse.

The proposed law, which parliament will review when it resumes later this month, states "gestures of a sexual nature whether verbal, textual, physical, graphic or electronic" are "unwelcome conduct."

However, the law would only apply to women working in the organized sector, which includes factories, hotels, airlines, textile mills, parts of the farm sector and offices.

Of India's hundreds of millions of working women, only 1.5 million are considered part of this formal sector.,
August 2, 2007

The majority (89 per cent) of the 270 million workers in India's unorganized sector are women and this law wouldn't afford them any protections, said Jaya Arunachalam, a prominent Indian feminist.

While the law won't cover all working women, sexual harassment is rife in India's organized sector. In 2005, Indian air force pilot Anjali Gupta was court-martialed for misconduct after she accused three superiors of sexually harassing her. The year before, three trainees were fired when they levelled similar charges.

The proposal would offer victims leave from work, transfers if they wish and compensation from money deducted from the salaries of their abusers.

Men's rights groups, including the Save Family Foundation and the Protect Indian Family group, say that the law would open to rampant misuse and that some women would exploit the legislation to further their career.




(i) The complaint relating to child rape cases shall be recorded promptly as well as accurately. The complaint can be filed by the victim or an eyewitness or anyone, including a representative of non-governmental organization, who has received information of the commission of the offence. The case should be taken as follows:

a) Officer not below the rank of SI and preferably lady police officer.

b) Recording should be verbatim

c) Person recording to be in civil dress

d) Recording should not be insisted in police station, it can be at the residence of the victim.

(ii) If the complainant is the child victim, then it is of vital importance that the reporting officer must ensure that the child victim is made comfortable before proceeding to record the complaint. This would help in ensuring accurate narration of the incident covering all relevant aspects of the case. If feasible, assistance of psychiatrist should be taken;

(iii) The Investigating Officer shall ensure that medical examination of the victim of sexual assault and the accused is done preferably within 24 hours in accordance with Cr. PC Sec. 164 A. Instruction be issued that the Chief Medical Officer ensures the examination of victim immediately on receiving request from I.O. The gynecologist, while examining the victim should ensure recording the history of incident;

(iv) Immediately after the registration of the case, the investigation team shall visit the scene of crime to secure whatever incriminating evidence is available there. If there are tell-tale signs of resistance by the victim or use of force by the accused those should be photographed;

(v) The Investigation Officer shall secure the clothes of the victim as well as the clothes of the accused, if arrested, and send them within 10 days for forensic analysis to find out whether there are traces of semen and also obtain report about the matching of blood group and if possible DNA profiling;

(vi) The forensic lab should analyze the evidences on priority basis and send report within couple of months;

(vii) The investigation of the case shall be taken up by an officer not below the rank of S.I. on priority basis and, as far as possible, investigation shall invariably be completed within 90 days of registration of the case. Periodical supervision should be done by senior officers to ensure proper and prompt investigation;

(viii) Wherever desirable, the statement of the victims u/s 164 Cr. PC shall be recorded expeditiously;

(ix) Identity of the victim and the family shall be kept secret and they must be ensured of protection. IOs / NGOs to exercise more caution of the issue.


i) Fast Track courts preferably presided over by a lady judge and trial to be held in camera;

ii) Atmosphere in the court should be child friendly;

iii) If possible, the recordings be done in video conferencing / in conducive manner so that victim is not subjected to close proximity of accused;

iv) Magistrate should commit case to session within 15 days after the filing of the charge sheet.


NDIA: NGO rescues 115 child labors

JAIPUR: A Rajasthan based NGO, Dakshin Rajasthan Mazdoor Union, has rescued 115 children who were about to be sent to Gujarat to work in cotton factories.

The child laborers were rescued from Udaipur, about 500 km from here by a team of the Dakshin Rajasthan Mazdoor Union, an advocacy group working for migrant laborers.

Most of the children belong to poor tribal families. "These children were rescued by us when they were being sent to cotton factories of Gujarat, especially in Ahmedabad and Disa," Meenakshi Paliwal, an official of the NGO.

According to a study by the union, at least 100,000 children from Rajasthan's tribal belt are employed in the cotton fields of Gujarat. The study said that about 50 percent of the labourers employed in the cotton fields come from four tribal districts of south Rajasthan, Dungarpur, Banswara, Udaipur and Sirohi, which border Gujarat. It also revealed that about 35 percent families send their children for cotton works.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 bans employment of children below 14 years in specified fields which are considered unsafe and harmful to children.

However, the practice goes on uninhibited across the country.


‘Take social offences out of criminal law’

A home Ministry-appointed committee has asked the government to decriminalise social offences like campus indiscipline and minor marriage offences and hold summary trials for other minor offences to enable the over-burdened criminal justice system stand straight on its feet.

In one stroke, this would reduce the number of cases out of the formal criminal justice system by nearly 40 per cent, said Professor RN Madhava Menon, chairman of the committee tasked to formulate a policy paper for the national policy on criminal justice.

“Minor marriage offences, which are more of civil in nature, can well be part of social welfare offences,” the report, handed over to the Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on Wednesday, said. Offences classified under this code should be entrusted to agencies other than the police; reparation should be the objective rather than punishment.

The committee had toyed with the idea of identifying adultery as one offence that could be struck out from the Indian Penal Code six months ago. Menon hinted there was no unanimity on this count. Mohan Dayal Rijhwani, a Mumbai-based lawyer who was on the panel, had spoken out against adultery remaining on the statute as an offence at the committee deliberations.

“It is for the lawmakers to decide which of the existing offences should be so changed and when,” the report said.

India has a controversial adultery law that lays down a five-year jail term for men; women, however, are not punished. A suggestion to treat men and women at par several months ago had run into opposition from bodies like the National Commission for Women.

Sentencing guidelines

The committee has also supported the concept of federal offences to be investigated by a national agency and called for formulation of sentencing guidelines to ensure that judges have lesser discretion in sentencing jail terms for convicts.

Menon referred to the perception that actor Sanjay Dutt had been handed out a harsh sentence, saying this happened due to the absence of sentencing guidelines. For a similar offence committed under similar circumstances, Menon said it was possible that two judges sentence a convict to different periods. It is arbitrary, the committee acknowledged, suggesting that judges did not have any special expertise in determining the length of jail term. Other members in the committee included former secretary, internal security, in Home Ministry, Anil Chowdhury and Kamal Kumar, former director, National Police Academy.



What's the next step after getting married? If the Supreme Court has its way, it will be a visit to the marriage registrar's office. It has hauled up states that have been tardy in framing rules for compulsory registration of marriages. The censure follows a judgment last year where the apex court said that all Indian citizens, irrespective of religion, must register their marriages.

At present, only the Special Marriage Act makes it mandatory for a couple to register their marriage with a government registrar. The Hindu Marriage Act has provisions for registration but it is left to the discretion of the couple. The Act also directs state governments to frame rules with regard to registration if they so desire.

The Indian Christian Marriage Act too has provisions for registration, but it is only recorded in the church where the marriage takes place. Under Muslim Personal Law, there is no necessity to register marriages.

It is evident that there is no uniformity with regard to registration of marriages. The court's decision to step in was mainly prompted by arguments made by the National Commission for Women. The commission said in an affidavit that compulsory registration would help prevent child marriages, check bigamy, ensure the rights of divorced women and deter men from deserting their wives. Whether registration of marriages itself would check all these evils is doubtful. Those who want to evade the law might simply choose not to register.

However, registration, if strictly enforced, would at least act as a deterrent to those involved in illegal activities such as child marriage.

The court's judgment is well intentioned but it opens up a can of worms for those inclined to be suspicious. Compulsory registration of marriages, regardless of religion, could be interpreted as a small step towards uniformity of marriage laws.

The sensitivity of the issue is apparent from the fact that most states have framed registration laws for Hindus alone, ignoring minority religions. State governments are particularly wary of annoying Muslims who might view compulsory registration as an encroachment on their personal law. Only two states, West Bengal and Orissa, claim to have followed the Supreme Court's order.

Such apprehensions, however, are unjustified. Compulsory registration doesn't infringe on any of the current laws governing marriage. If registration is enforced, Muslims or Christians, who have married under their personal laws, will still follow the same rules for divorce or the number of marriages permitted. Community representatives ought to cooperate in ensuring compulsory registration of marriages.


In Orissa, boys too suffer foeticide

In Nayagarh, Orissa, it is not only the girl child who is destined to land up in the dustbin before she is born but the boy child as well.

Parents wanting to get rid of the foetuses of their girl children are duped into losing boys too, according to an inquiry conducted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in the state’s Nayagarh area recently. Of the 137 foetuses found by the district administration, some of them were of boys.

Said Sandhya Bajaj, member of the inquiry committee: “In their (doctors’) lust to make money, the parents were misled about the sex of the child.”

Most ultrasound machines in Nayagarh are of poor quality and incapable of revealing the gender of the foetus in early stages of pregnancy, Bajaj said. Doctors often lied about the sex of the child, thereby prevailing upon unsuspecting parents to opt for abortions, she added.

Inspections found that six clinics did not even have the mandatory license to operate ultrasound machines under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Act.

Some private clinics were found running a campaign against girl children. The message was that it is better to spend Rs 5,000 on an abortion now rather than Rs 5 lakh on a girl child's marriage later.

The well-oiled racket involved dumping foetuses into a man-made well to which chemicals were added for faster decomposition," Bajaj said.

The two government doctors were found to advise expectant mothers to their private clinics for sex determination tests.

Recommending strict action against the doctors, the panel has asked the Orissa government to conduct a survey across the state to determine how many private nursing homes are involved in the racket.


Finding a father: A real life detective story

Chennai, July 17 (IANS) There were tears in everyone's eyes, including hardened crime investigators, when a deaf and dumb father made noises on a telephone that his daughter in the Gulf recognised even after 24 long years of separation.

The case of 32-year-old Nazeema from Tamil Nadu, now living in Saudi Arabia, is what one would call a typical case of child trafficking.

Nazeema's mother died when she was born. Her grandmother raised her and her two elder siblings while her deaf and dumb father worked part time to support the family. He often carried her piggyback to school.

But in 1984, Nazeema was picked up by some women relatives and sold to a couple in Chennai, to work in their house as a maid.

The husband and wife were both police personnel and cruel. Nazeema ran away after two years and was on Chennai's streets soon.

Luckily for Nazeema, a Mysore Brahmin family found her. They raised her as one of their own, educated her and married her to a young entrepreneur from her own community.

Nazeema soon went away to Saudi Arabia with her husband Sayad. But she was haunted by memories of her loving father, sisters and the home she once lived in with her grandmother.

R. Vardharaj, who runs the detective agency that helped reunite Nazeema and her father, said: 'It was when she was giving birth to her first child, she said that she first acutely felt the need for her parents to be near her.'

Nazeema's tears made Sayad contact the Chennai police and Vardharaj's detective agency.

Vardharaj said it was very difficult to trace Nazeema's roots. She remembered that the place she had lived in was Anna Nagar and her elder sister worked in a handloom unit.

For 10 days, Vardharaj and his men looked for a person called Ibrahim Sherrif, Nazeema's deaf and dumb father, in Kancheepuram -- the textile hub of Tamil Nadu. It was a Herculean task that ended with no leads.

'I then started looking for the police couple in Chennai. Nazeema recalled the man's name. I contacted around 50 police stations in and around Chennai to find out if anyone knew of a constable whose wife was also in the police force.

'Finally, in one police station we got information that there was a sub-inspector of such a description who had retired a few years ago. His wife was still in the force,' Vardharaja said.

'We were told that they lived in Royapetah area of Chennai. It was a very delicate operation. One cannot barge into a man's house and accuse him of mistreating a maidservant 24 years ago.

'We questioned the grocery shops on every street in the area until we found the shop from where they bought grocery and the street where they lived,' he said.

Nazeema's former employer said his dead sister-in-law had found them the maid.

He remembered that there were two other women with his sister-in-law when she had brought Nazeema and one of the women had a son. The detective agency found the son.

Through him they traced an 80-year-old woman who was Nazeema's relative. She finally admitted to having sold Nazeema to the couple.

The agency then traced her father Ibrahim Sherrif, who works in a teashop in Arcot, 150 km north of Chennai. Vardharaj telephoned Nazeema June 20 to tell her that her father had been found.

By mid-August Nazeema is expected to be in India, with her children, to meet her father.

'Sherrif is so poor and handicapped, no one would own him easily. It is amazing to see his daughter happy to find him and wanting to look after him, 24 years after being lost and separated from him,' said Vradharaj.

According to a 2006 study conducted by the NGO Shakti Vahini, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu are the states from where the maximum numbers of people are trafficked.


No childhood for millions in India

July 20: Despite various promises by the government in the form of welfare schemes and laws, future (children) of this country is in dark due to innumerous problems having no platform to speak for them except some NGOs taking them seriously.

Initiatives of the government fail to be of much help as implementation of the projects like other fields falls a victim to corruption and lack of will on the part of administration.

UNESCO’s revelation about the status of children in India is a shame to the country who has enough resources at her disposal. According to UN estimates, 72 million children in India do not have access to education and India would not be able to provide education to all children even till 2015 while India boasts of 93% enrolment in schools at present and to achieve 100% till 2010.

Education is not alone in the list of problems children facing in India. Its brethrens are increasing violence against children, lack of health facilities rendering them vulnerable to chronic diseases, child labour and child trafficking apart from prostitution.

UNICEF report says that more than 500 million children do not have access to proper shelter better it is to say that they are homeless and a bit less to safe drinking water.

There is no provision of health care facilities for 270 million children. India also harbours the highest number of street children, the largest number of children suffering from malnutrition. Report says that healthy life is still a dream for millions of little souls. A huge number do not receive immunity from diseases.

About 6.6 million suffer from iodine deficiency leading to the brain damage. The national family health survey says that 70% children of India suffer from iron deficiency. There are 1,70,000 children affected by AIDS/HIV having none to care and most neglected in society.

As far as the education is concerned official accounts are termed as ‘statistic illusion’. Non-demarcation of the age group inflates the ratio of enrolment of children. Actual ratio figures out to be only 75-78% keeping hell lot of children out of school.

A survey revealed that increasing drop out rates and low retention rate neutralize the enrolment ratio.

India has become a place where environment for children is not safe. Several examples can be cited in support of the argument. Nithari case putting a question mark on the safety of the children reflects the violence being perpetrated on innocent beings.

Today children are becoming the objects of murder, rape, abduction and these crimes are not confined to only poor ones but permeate to even middle and higher class children.

Crime rate against children is increasing by 3.8% annually according to the NHRC report. Every year 45,000 children go missing out of whose 11000 are never traced.

Children are not safe either in their homes, work places or on the streets.

Children’s number turns out to be the largest as victims of human trafficking. It is not very infrequent that we come across the news of selling of babies in newspapers. Children are the worst affected by this heinous crime. There is neither any child protection cover nor the issue has ever been addressed on legislation level.

Child labour is a termite which is slowly eating our millions. Laws are available to cure this disease but what is most needed is their strict application by the implementing agencies.

For lack of any basic amenity such as education, health, healthy social environment, most of these homeless souls are abused physically, emotionally without any protection cover for them.

It is still not too late to save their childhood. What we need first and foremost is the awareness about their plight and their rights as a child. And as is directed by the Supreme Court too we should promise them a dignified existence.

Central monitoring commission’s suggestion to have juvenile police unit in every police station can be followed to prevent the crimes against children. And a protection mechanism on community level should be evolved as is often suggested by child rights activists. Children are asset of a country and their condition is a mirror of the nation’s social, economic condition.


Global Solution Needed to Eradicate Human Trafficking, Says Expert

By Micheline R. Millar

HUMAN TRAFFICKING today is a multi-billion dollar industry and a major human rights concern that requires the collective effort of the global community to be successfully eradicated, according to a senior official of the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

“The U.S. Justice Department ranks human trafficking as the third largest criminal enterprise worldwide, generating an estimated $9.5 billion per year in terms of profit,” the fund’s Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer said during a recent lecture on gender, migration and human trafficking, hosted by the Asian Development Bank.

Trafficking of persons includes prostitution, debt bondage, forced labor and slavery, and exploitation of children as workers, soldiers or sex slaves, said Heyzer. Data from the International Labor Organization show that the migrant population currently stands at 120 million, of which around 12.3 million are enslaved in forced or bonded labor or sexual servitude at any one time, she said.

The magnitude of the human trafficking problem facing the world today has prompted the Group of 8 countries to issue a communiqué identifying the phenomenon as the dark side of globalization, she said.

“Population movements, whether voluntary or forced, are not new. What has changed in our world today is the regulation, as national borders and their control are tightening. Those who fail to meet entry criteria become illegal, giving rise to people smuggling and trafficking. And this has in turn increased the involvement of organized crime,” she said.

Heyzer traced the dramatic growth in migration and trafficking flows to so-called “push and pull” factors. Push factors would include uneven economic growth, war and armed conflict, natural disasters, high levels of gender inequality, and family violence. Prosperity and stability in medium and high growth countries and regions act as pull factors creating increased demand for imported labor in what Heyzer termed as the “global workplace.”

Migrant workers are cast under two categories: highly skilled professionals demanded by the new global economy and technologies; and the much larger group composed of semi-skilled and unskilled workers willing to take low wages, insecurity and dangerous work, said Heyzer.

“We need to understand and realize that many people are not sharing in the benefits of globalization,” she said, noting that despite the expanding global economy, the concentration of wealth remains with a few. “The figures I have is that the richest 2% of the global adult population today owns half of global wealth, whilst the bottom half of the world’s population in fact owns barely 1%,” she lamented.

The Asia Pacific region is an example of such lopsided distribution of resources, said Heyzer. The region includes countries with some of the world’s highest growth and some of the worst poverty, the highest human development with some of the deepest and greatest exploitation and deprivation, she pointed out.

While the number of people in the region who live on less than $1 a day had fallen from 31% to 20% from 1990 to 2001, the decline masks significant difference among subregions and in the local setting, said Heyzer. China and India account for much of the region’s economic expansion, but they also harbor deep pockets of poverty and regional differences, she said.

“Globalization has obviously opened up new opportunities for those with skills, with capital, but at the same time, it has also shut down employment and livelihood options for those without them, especially in some of the poorer countries and in the rural areas that have failed to compete in the global marketplace,” said Heyzer.

Despite the dismal circumstances often facing migrants in the global marketplace, Heyzer noted that the wages and conditions that are substandard in rich and middle-income nations still prove alluring compared to those in poorer countries. This is especially true in the case of trafficked women, who continue to persevere despite suffering from human rights violations as they see themselves as able to solve some of the urgent economic problems faced by their families back home.

“In today’s world, we do not need to have this situation, and it is not acceptable, to have a crisis of survival where the only way out for a family to survive is by trafficking their daughters,” said Heyzer.

As long as capital but not labor can move freely across borders, illegal migration and trafficking will remain rampant. International norms and standards have been established in the past in an effort to arrest such a trend. “But if rights are to be meaningful they must be claimed by those who hold them. In other words people should know that they have these rights, and very often you find that people who are supposed to have rights did not know that they have these rights,” she said.

Heyzer proposed several measures to help mitigate human trafficking. One is to make it difficult for traffickers to operate with impunity by raising their cost to operate. “It’s unfortunate that there’s still a lot of impunity over such crimes especially with some of the local corruption of officials and high placed government personalities,” she said.

Another measure is to raise public awareness of this form of human rights violation and create public outrage so that people will be discouraged from using goods and services provided by traffickers and recruiters, said Heyzer. The same way as sex abusers of children are identified, so too should human traffickers, even if such a measure may be deemed controversial by some sectors, she said.

“Many of the people are trafficked because they are provided with basically false information. They are promised a different kind of work and they end up with something else,” said Heyzer. “Ultimately, the problems created by the global phenomena, such as migration and trafficking, require a global solution. And in an age that has been marked by a huge upsurge of rhetoric about human rights and women’s rights, a global solution must match this with implementation and with accountability. We need to accelerate seriously this work to end discrimination and gender inequality.”

Trafficking of persons includes prostitution, debt bondage, forced labor, slavery, and exploitation of children as workers, soldiers or sex slaves.

© 2007 Asian Development Bank


Police told to see prostitutes as victims

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Police must treat prostitutes as victims rather than criminals and crack down instead on clients and human traffickers who force women and children to sell their bodies, activists said on Wednesday.

Hundreds of thousands of women and girls in India are kidnapped, sold, coerced or trafficked for sex in a highly organised, yet illicit trade which is the world's third most lucrative after arms and drugs.

But activists say that while the children and young women are often trapped in slave-like situations, unable to free themselves from their pimps and brothel owners, police treat them as criminals while the real perpetrators get away.

"Hundreds of thousands of victims are invisible and are kept in captivity and have no access to any justice system whatsoever," said Ruchira Gupta, director of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a local charity working against human trafficking.

"On the other hand, the perpetrators of this crime -- the profiteers and buyers that constitute the demand for human trafficking -- are visible and work with impunity."

In India, trafficking and profiting by selling a person for sex is illegal, but paying for sex with a prostitute is not unless she is under 18-years-old.

Almost 6,000 cases of trafficking were registered in 2005, but activists say the real number is much higher and on the rise.

Activists say that women are easy targets for police to arrest and round up in brothel raids and on street corners and police rarely investigate or arrest brothel owners or pimps.

Experts, speaking at the launch of a handbook to help police better enforce human trafficking laws, said police needed to understand the issue better.

"The real problem is not the absence of a legal infrastructure, but the importance of those that are empowered to impose the law to know what to do," said Gary Lewis, South Asia representative of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

According to the International Labour Organisation, 2.45 million people worldwide are exploited and treated like slaves every year, and another 1.2 million people are trafficked.

Lewis said that, according to some estimates, the global trade in human trafficking generated around $32 billion a year.


Home Minister critical of international focus of trafficking in India

PTI , India

Critical of the international assessment of the extent of trafficking of women and children in India, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil has said the problem here was not bigger than that in other countries.

"It has been necessary for us to say there is a problem (of trafficking) in India. But to think that it is bigger than in other countries is not correct," Patil said in his inaugural address at a national consultation on preventing and combating human trafficking in New Delhi.

"We have to take into consideration the number of human beings in India when talking about the extent of the problem. However, even one case is not acceptable to us," he said, noting the problem should be seen in the correct perspective.

Patil's comments come in the backdrop of the US placing India in the Tier-2 list of countries where human trafficking is a matter of concern.

The Minister, addressing the 'National Consultation on Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking of Human Beings with Special Focus on Women and Children', said the problem of human trafficking in India has been discussed on a large scale at the international level.

"Human trafficking takes place in India, but the scale (as per international community) is not correct," Patil said.

"Many times, we have discussed the issue in the Ministry and with dignitaries coming from other countries," he said.

He, however, added that India needs to pay more attention to the issue than it has been so far.


Curbing women trafficking jointly

The News Karachi

The government of India has offered to conduct relevant training programmes aimed at capacity building for all the stakeholders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) member states.

This was decided during the first meeting of the Regional Task Force in New Delhi, India, on July 26 to implement SAARC conventions relating to the trafficking of women and children. This was stated by Advocate Zia Awan who represented Pakistan at the meeting.

Elucidating, he said that Saarc member states would exchange information on best practices by their respective governments, NGOs and members of civil society to combat trafficking of women and children. This information would be exchanged through the Saarc Secretariat website, which would be uploaded by October 2007 and thereinafter annually.

The delegations agreed to consider developing uniform toll-free numbers, wherever applicable, to assist victims in the region. The members also decided to develop a Standard of Operating Procedure (SOP) to implement various provisions of the Saarc Convention, including reporting under Article VIII (5) and repatriation of victims of trafficking.

A draft SOP would be circulated by the Indian government to all member states through the Saarc Secretariat by the end of September. Earlier, Saarc members had signed two landmark conventions relating to trafficking in January 2002 that were ratified in November 2005.

It was pointed out during the meeting that the failure of a legal system at the national and international level and non-availability of witnesses against traffickers makes prosecution difficult, which is why the trade is going strong.

It was thus decided that a joint initiative should be taken to curb the trade or at least minimise the “potential risk factor” and agony of the victims. The meeting recognised the increasing role and importance of NGOs and members of the civil society in addressing the needs and requirements of victims of trafficking, which is a thriving trade in the South Asian region.