Faridabad maid’s death: One held, second autopsy likely

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NEW DELHI: Six days after a tribal girl from Uttar Dinajpur in West Bengal was found dead in mysterious circumstances at the residence of her employers in sector 49, the Faridabad police arrested the owner of a Delhi-based placement agency, Rafiq, on Saturday. He had been booked on the basis of an FIR on a complaint of the deceased domestic worker’s mother. With a second postmortem to establish the cause of death expected only by Monday, the girl’s decomposing body, for now protected by ice bars, lies in an ill-equipped and mice-infested “dead house” in Faridabad.

The police personnel of Dabua Chowki, under Saran police station, arrested Rafiq, who owns Laxmi Placement Agency in Tughlaqabad. He had allegedly brought the girl from her village after taking the consent of a relative, according to the mother, who was unaware of her daughter’s presence in the city.

The police will also be investigating the role of the affluent family that hired the girl for house work in March allegedly for a meagre Rs 3500 despite the fact that she appeared to be a minor. The police have registered a case against both the placement agency owner and her employers under sections related to kidnapping, trafficking, child labour, abetment to suicide and Juvenile Justice Act applicable to minors. The mother also wants a case to be registered under the SC/ST Atrocities Act.

The mother, herself a domestic worker employed in Janakpuri, has alleged that her daughter was only 13 and a very strong person who could not have committed suicide. She has claimed that the child, who was going to school in her village, was brought to Delhi without informing her husband who was taking care of the children while she worked in the capital.

The mother has, meanwhile, expressed shock to learn that a postmortem had already been conducted without her permission and the report declared it to be an ordinary death due to hanging, making it a case of suicide. She has now sought a fresh post-mortem.

Compounding the tragedy is the growing concern over the decomposing body and desperate search for space for burial. Social workers from NGO Shakti Vahini were seen frantically reaching out to different Christian institutions as they tried to seek space in a cemetery. “We were shocked when confronted by the demand for a certificate to show that she was a Catholic Christian before she could get burial space. When we told them that we did not have any such document and explained the situation, we were turned away,” said Rishikant of the NGO.

Similar resistance to burying a minor domestic worker from Jharkhand was witnessed last year and had led the NCPCR to issue directions wherein a list of churches and pastors in Delhi was drawn up for such cases. On Saturday too former NCPCR member Vinod Tikoo reached out to YMCA to intervene in the matter and resolve the crisis.

Faridabad maid a minor, trafficked to Delhi

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AMBIKA PANDIT IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: The tribal girl who was found hanging from a grille at her employer’s house in Faridabad five days ago was a schoolgoing teenager at a village in Uttar Dinajpur, West Bengal till about seven months ago. Her mother has alleged that she was not more than 13 years old and was lured to Delhi by a placement agency owner. The girl’s parents did not know that she was employed here. An FIR under legal provisions for trafficking, Juvenile Justice Act and Child Labour Act has been registered on the basis of the mother’s complaint.

Shocked to learn of her daughter’s death, the woman has sought a thorough probe into the role of the family that hired her daughter in March for housework, and strict action against the unregistered placement agency involved. The case was registered by the Dabua police chowki of Saran police station in Faridabad late on Friday evening, five days after the death occured.

The girl’s decomposing body for now lies in the “dead house”. A second postmortem may be carried out to rule out foul play before she is laid to rest at the burial ground of a Christian cemetery here. “I want to know why my daughter died? I don’t believe she committed suicide. She was very strong,” the mother told TOI after identifying the body. Despite her loss, the mother, a Christian, stood strongly rooted in her faith as she fasted through the day to mark Good Friday. Now she only wants justice for her daughter.

She has been employed at a house in Janakpuri since October and says her husband daughter and sons were all staying at home when she left her village in September. “My daughter said bye and left to get wood for cooking. She was a very hard-working child and studied in class 1. She took care of the house and also did housework to help me. She was not the kind to kill herself.” The woman said she came to Delhi to earn for her family as extreme poverty hounded homes in her village where most people, including her husbands, have only day jobs.

She got to know of her daughter’s presence in Delhi and her death only on April 17 when the placement agency owner who brought the girl to Delhi tried to reach her through another agency that had provided her employment in Janakpuri. The woman has alleged that Rafiq, the owner of Laxmi Placement Agency in Tughlaqabad, never tried to contact her before to inform her about her daughter’s presence in Delhi. “I worked for the agency that employed my daughter in my previous stay in Delhi as a domestic worker. Despite knowing me, the agency owner never told me that my daughter was here. Even my husband did not know her whereabouts as the placement agency brought her to Delhi by taking permission from a relative,” she told TOI.

Police say the girl was found hanging from a grille on April 14. Her employers reported that she had been hired on March 24 from Laxmi Placement Agency at a meagre salary of Rs 3,500 to do housework in an upper-middle class household in Sector 49. The agency took about Rs 22,000 from the family as commission for placing her

Man’s relative sell off cattle to “buy” him a wife

Haryana CasePublished in The Hindu -By Ashok Kumar

A 30-year-old woman from Assam, allegedly trafficked to Haryana for a forced marriage and sold to a mentally-challenged man, has been rescued in Jhajjar. The man’s family allegedly sold their cattle to “buy” the woman as they could not find a bride for him.

Victim was drugged

The victim was allegedly offered tea and snacks laced with sedatives by her acquaintance Babai (50) and brought to Delhi. Babai came in contact with the victim while looking for employment as domestic help in her locality in Assam.

The victim was taken to a village in Panipat from Delhi and allegedly sold to one Sombir in Jhajjar. She managed to contact her family over telephone on February 24, following which they alerted the local police.

Meanwhile, the project director of Ujjawala, an initiative by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development to combat human trafficking, informed the non-government organisation Shakti Vahini.

Shakti Vahini programme director spoke to Inspector General (Rohtak Range) Anil Kumar Rao, who facilitated the rescue operation. The victim was produced before the Executive Magistrate in Jhajjar after a medical examination and later sent to a shelter home in Karnal.

“Girls from the Northeast are brought to Haryana for forced marriage and bonded labour. The trend is due to the skewed sex ratio in Haryana. The districts of Jhajjar, Mewat, Rewari, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar, Jind and Hisar are the most common destinations for these girls,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini.

Girls from the Northeast are brought to Haryana for forced marriage and bonded labour. The trend is due to the skewed sex ratio in Haryana.Rishi Kant Shakti Vahini

ILO says poor laws aid the abuse of maids

article-2564179-1BAF51FD00000578-966_634x617By Neetu Chandra Published in MAIL TODAY

Millions of domestic workers in Indian homes are a part of an informal and “invisible” workforce due to absence of a specific legislation meant for their protection, the International Labour Organisation said on Wednesday.

The number of maids has gone up by nearly 70 per cent from 2001 to 2010 with an estimated 10 million maids and nannies in India, the ILO says.

According to the National Sample Survey (NSS) 2004-05, there are around 47.50 lakh domestic workers in the country. Out of these, 30 lakh are women working in urban areas.

Besides a proposal to formulate a national policy for domestic workers, the government claims that various measures are being taken to ensure rights and to check exploitation of this vulnerable segment.

The Centre has enacted the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 for social security of unorganized workers, including domestic workers.

Labour laws like the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Employees Compensation Act, 1923, the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 and Inter-State Migrant Workmen (RECS) Act, 1976 are also applicable to domestic workers.

But the poor work and living conditions are still a part of the lives of this faceless workforce across the country.

“Domestic servants in India are routinely harassed and exploited by their employers in many ways. In spite of several steps taken by the government to improve their condition, even today they are treated as slaves and untouchables by many. This issue draws our attention every now and then, whether it is about the tragedy of domestic workers or a positive change in their conditions,” a recent study published in Indian Journal of Research, says.

The study found that these workers were humiliated by employers in some or the other way. While some were treated as untouchables and not allowed to enter the house except work areas, others were given stale food and addressed in abusive language. Moreover, some were suspected of stealing things and not given salary on time.

According to the government’s own admission, the instances of human trafficking for pushing victims into professions, including domestic help, have increased.

As per the NCRB data, the total number of cases which come under the generic description of ‘Human Trafficking’ for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 are 3,422, 3,517 and 3,554, respectively.

Recently, the National Commission for Women had recommended a national policy for the benefit of domestic workers.

“Women are being harassed in different ways. People need to be sensitised about this issue. We get several cases where we get shocked. There is an urgent need to change the mentality towards women,” NCW member Charu Wali Khanna said.

Cases on the rise

Tortured history

Trafficking of women and then pushing them to work as underpaid and exploited maids is on the rise in India. Krishna Tirath recently said in the Rajya Sabha that instances of alleged violence and torture of maids in the country have been reported. She informed the House on efforts made by the government in protecting women’s rights.

On providing safety to domestic workers

In order to safeguard the interest of job seekers, Ministry of Labour & Employment had issued guidelines on October 30, 2013 to state governments and Union Territory (UT) Administrations to consider regulation of functioning of private placement agencies. The states and UTs have been asked to register placement agencies providing domestic workers specifically under Shops & Establishments Act.

On sensitising police personnel

The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has prepared a training manual on “Human Trafficking-Handbook for Investigators” for sensitizing police personnel. The handbooks are being used in the national, regional and state Police Training Institutes.

On current legislations on women trafficking

There are specific legislations enacted relating to trafficking in Women and Children (Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 and others.

On tackling the menace of human trafficking

Anti–Trafficking Nodal Cell was set up in the Ministry of Home Affairs to act as a focal point for communicating various decisions and follow up on action taken by the state governments

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Girl trafficked from Bengal rescued

UTTAR PRADESH TRAFFICKING CASE

PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

A 15-year-old girl trafficked from Murshidabad district of West Bengal was rescued from a village in Shahjahanpur district in Uttar Pradesh on Friday.

The rescue operation was jointly conducted by the police forces of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh along with NGO Shakti Vahini.

According to the police, the minor girl was trafficked by one Murjina (40) who sold her as a “bride” to a resident of the Uttar Pradesh village.

“The alleged trafficker, a resident of Sardarpara of Murshidabad district, approached the girl and asked if she wanted to learn shakha pola , traditional bangles worn by married Bengali women. Both became friends and nearly a week later, Murjina convinced her to visit her house, where she offered her food that made her unconscious. On the same day she was taken to Delhi by train,” the police said.

In the Capital, Murjina, a factory worker in Delhi, used to take the victim with her to the workplace so that she could not escape.

“After 10/12 days the girl was handed over to a man who married her forcefully. She was then confined in his house in a remote Uttar Pradesh village, from where she was rescued,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini.

The police were tipped-off about her whereabouts in the Mundka area of Delhi. The West Bengal police team reached Delhi and coordinated with the Shakti Vahini team. A raid was conducted in Mundka on Friday and a person Santosh was detained. He, a cousin of the alleged trafficker, confessed that the girl was confined in the U.P. village.

The police and the NGO team rushed to Shahjahanpur district and contacted the local police. With their assistance the girl was rescued. She was then brought to Delhi by the police team, which was accompanied by her father. “The girl will be produced before the Child Welfare Committee, Murshidabad. As per the direction of the Child Welfare Committee she will be given care and protection,” the police said.

Gumla girl rescued from Jaipur bus stand

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PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RANCHI: A minor girl belonging to Jharkhand’s Gumla district was rescued from Jaipur on Sunday night. According to information provided by the girl to the Jaipur police, she was allegedly trafficked by M.K Service, a placement agency running illegally in the national capital.

The rescued girl said that a woman made the girl sit on a Jaipur-bound bus in New Delhi and directed her to not speak to anybody on the way.

She was also told that somebody in Jaipur will come to receive her at the Sindhi Camp Bus Stop. However, a co-passenger of the victim, who got suspicious on seeing the girl travelling alone, contacted Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini, which intervened and rescued the girl.

Rishi Kant, an activist working with Shakti Vahini, said: “We coordinated with the police as well as Suraksha, an NGO based in Jaipur, and asked them to intervene. The bus reached Jaipur at 11pm.” He added: “The girl said that she belongs to Jharkhand and was sent to Jaipur via Delhi. It seems an organized inter-state racket is involved in this case, which needs to be investigated by the anti-human trafficking units of the states concerned.”

Kailash Chandra Bishnoi, deputy commissioner of West Jaipur police, said: “An FIR has been registered at the Sindhi Camp police station in Jaipur under Section 370, which deals with human trafficking. The girl has been sent to a rehabilitation centre run by the government here and we will be contacting the Jharkhand police soon. The victim said that she did not even know the reason why she was being sent to Jaipur, nor did she know the person who was going to meet her here.”

Trafficked Ranchi girls rescued in Delhi, one held

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RANCHI: Two trafficked girls from Ranchi were rescued in Delhi-NCR on Thursday when police teams from Ranchi, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh conducted raids, jointly with an NGO, at two places.

An 18-year-old girl was rescued from a house in Ghaziabad. Rishi Kant, member of Shakti Vahini, an NGO that was part of the rescue team, said, “The girl informed us that she was trafficked by one Ravinder Kumar Rathi alias Akash Rathi and his wife Fulkriya Rathi, four years ago. She was then made to work as domestic help at Sandeep Madaan’s house in Ghaziabad from where she was rescued.”

Rishi said the girl also mentioned that her employer used to pay her salary of Rs 2,700 to Ravinder every month in cheque. But her parents did not receive any money so far.

Another 19-year-old girl was rescued from West Enclave area in Delhi. The girl said she was trafficked by Ravinder, the same person who was involved in the earlier trafficking case, six years ago.

She was kept in a placement agency – Goodwill Placement Agency – for a night and the next day she was sent to work at a house. During these six years, she was not paid for her work.

“The girls were trafficked and then made to work in houses without any payment. Besides, they were confined to the house they worked in and not allowed to step out. This is not just an issue of trafficking but also bonded labour and action should be taken against the employers as well,” said Rishi.

Accused of trafficking, Ravinder has been arrested by Delhi Police under different cases. Rishi said, “Police sources say that Ravinder has trafficked around 50 girls in the past four years and both the victims were trafficked along with a group of girls.”

Assam girl sold & raped in Haryana flees captivity

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PANKAJ SARMA

Guwahati, Feb. 5: A 22-year-old girl from Assam’s Udalguri district, who was sold to a man in Haryana for Rs 80,000 and allegedly gang raped, recently managed to flee the clutches of her captor.

The victim, who belongs to a poor family, was reportedly trafficked for the purpose of forced marriage by her aunt Meena Kumari, who sold her to a resident of Haryana, Suresh.

The victim used to work as an assistant in a garments shop in Guwahati and was lured by Meena Kumari, a resident of Fatasil Ambari here, to visit Sirsa in Haryana on the pretext of visiting her daughter.

On May 7 last year, the victim boarded a Delhi-bound train with her aunt. On reaching Delhi the next day, she was taken to Jind district in Haryana, about 130km from Delhi, and forced to stay in a house for four days. Her aunt told her that she would come back after which they would go to her daughter’s place together. But Meena did not return, the victim told counsellors of Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based NGO, its spokesperson Rishi Kant said.

After four days, the girl was sold to Suresh, a resident of Haryana’s Kaithal district and the son of a daily wage earner, for Rs 80,000.

The victim told the counsellors that Suresh and his cousin Mahavir raped her. “Suresh even put pressure on her to bear his child. When she refused, she was beaten up severely,” Kant said, quoting the victim.

The girl said she was forced to do all kinds of household work like washing and cleaning. Suresh confined her in his house and subjected her to the worst form of slavery. She would perform household chores the whole day and at night she was sexually abused by Suresh and Mahavir.

“On January 26, the victim managed to escape and reached Kurukshetra, about 50km away, where she narrated her sordid tale to a person who took her to the railway police who referred the case to Kaithal police. Both the accused have been arrested, along with Meena.

Kant said when Shakti Vahini contacted the victim’s family, “her elder brother told us that they did not have any information about her whereabouts”. Kant said the victim’s family members would go to Delhi to bring her back.

A case was registered under different sections of the IPC at Rajound police station in Kaithal district on January 31. The victim is now lodged at Nari Niketan, a women’s shelter home at Karnal in Haryana.

Several such cases have come to light recently. In December last year, police rescued a 32-year-old woman — a mother of two kids and a minor girl from Haryana. Last month, some minor girls trafficked to work as domestics were rescued from Delhi.

Woman rescued after 9 months in ‘slavery’

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PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

A 22-year-old woman from Assam, who was trafficked to Haryana for a forced marriage and sold to a 43-year-old villager in Kaithal, has been rescued. Two persons, including the victim’s aunt Meena Kumari, have been arrested.

Meena, a resident of Guwahati, allegedly coaxed the woman to accompany her to visit her daughter in Sirsa, Haryana . Meena and the woman, a native of Udalguri, boarded a train from Guwahati on May 7 last year and reached Delhi the next day. The woman was then taken to Jind district and made to stay at a house for a couple of days. Meena then left her at the house with a promise to return soon, but she never turned up. The woman then gradually realised that she had fallen into a trap and was sold to one Suresh for Rs.80,000.

On January 26 this year, the victim managed to escape and reached Kurukshetra. On her way, she met a Good Samaritan, who took her to the Railway Police on hearing her ordeal. The matter was then referred to the Kaithal police.

In the meantime, Shakti Vahini, a non-government organisation, contacted her family. Her elder brother told the NGO that the family had no information about her since she left Guwahati.

The woman, who has now been sent to Nari Niketan in Karnal following a medical examination, told the counsellor that she was subjected to the worst kind of slavery and not allowed to step out of the house.

She was forced to do household chores during the day and was sexually abused at night. Suresh’s cousin, Mahavir also allegedly raped her.

“There is a trend of girls from the Northeast being brought to Haryana for forced marriage and bonded labour. The districts of Mewat, Rewari, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar, Jind and Hisar are the most common destinations for these girls. This is a trend in Haryana due to its skewed sex ratio. The traffickers use Delhi as the transit point,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini.

Childhood lost

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PUBLISHED IN THE WEEK

Child trafficking is the recruitment, transport, transfer or receipt of a child for exploitation.

The International Labour Organization estimates that globally, 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.

The US State Department ranks countries by how they adhere to anti-human trafficking laws. They are categorised as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 watchlist, Tier 3 and Special Case, with Tier 1 as the best ranking. India falls in Tier 2, which means it does not completely adhere to the minimum standards but is making significant efforts to change the situation.

The main reason for child trafficking is poverty. With industrialisation, the loss of traditional means of livelihood in rural areas forced people to migrate to cities for work. This leads to exploitation of children for commercial sex and cheap labour.

The belts of exploitation
India is a source, route of transit and destination for trafficked women and girls. Interstate trafficking accounts for 89 per cent of trafficking in India.

Bihar, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh procure the largest number of minor girls. The biggest buyers of minors are West Bengal and Maharashtra. Punjab and Haryana are popular for ‘arranged’ marriages.

Pre-pubertal girls from scheduled castes are dedicated to different deities for religious prostitution. After living a few years with priests, they are sold to traffickers. Their market value falls after puberty. This is mostly practised in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Sex tourism is the exploitation of young boys and girls, especially street children, by international and Indian tourists. It is prevalent in the Agra-Delhi-Jaipur belt, as well as south and south-west India—Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Orissa. Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan are emerging as destinations. Sex tourism is facilitated by travel agencies, tour operators and hotels. Reports indicate that young boys are brought from Gulf countries to south India for prostitution.

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* Dalit freedom groups claim most of those trafficked for sex are Dalits.

* About 10 per cent of the trafficked children come from neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

* Nepalese insurgents are reportedly trafficking girls to Indian brothels.

* A recent study by California-based NGO Not For Sale says that up to 95 per cent of female victims in rehabilitation programmes in New Delhi are not given education, life skills or job training, forcing many into their original state of vulnerability.

* About 15 per cent of commercial sex workers in India are below 15 and 25 per cent are between 15 and 18.

* Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini says that every year thousands of girls in north India are sold for involuntary marriage.

* Anti-poverty agency ActionAid says victims of the Uttarakhand floods last year are especially vulnerable to trafficking because of mass displacement and loss of livelihood.

* About $19 billion is generated worldwide through child trafficking annually.