Teenage tribal girl travels to Delhi to help lead raid on placement agency

SHAKTI VAHINIPUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

An 18-year old tribal girl Sunita Kumari (name changed) helped the Delhi police conduct raids on an illegal placement agency in Taimur Nagar near New Friends Colony (NFC) a year after she had been trafficked from Jharkhand to Delhi to work in the city. Earlier, this week the girl had travelled from Khunti in Jharkhand to Delhi with officials of Anti Human Trafficking Unit of her home district to help identify the personnel running the placement agency Mamta Placement Agency.

“Initially, Mukesh who ran the agency treated me alright and gave me responsibilities of staff at the agency. My work consisted of accompanying the girls and boys – many of them minors – to houses where we had placed them as domestic workers. But a few months later, Mukesh confiscated my mobile phone and broke it. When I said I wanted to leave, he threatened me saying he had all my school documents such as my class X certificates etc. Then I decided to plan an escape and also get my certificates back from him somehow,” said Sunita.

She said she had travelled from Delhi to Bihar with the other staff of the placement agency to a village they were visiting in Banke and fled from there to return to her village in Jharkhand. Three months after returning home, she approached the district labour department of the district and made a complaint about the Delhi-based placement agency. The labour department directed her to the district Anti Human Trafficking Unit and she traveled to Delhi with police officials and NGO Diya Sewa Sansathan.

“I had worked briefly as a housekeeper at a hotel in Bangalore and there I had learned that Labour Department is meant to assist workers who feel cheated. I had remembered that and complained at the district level” said Sunita. She said that she had left her home in Torpa in Khunti after she failed to clear class XII examinations in 2013. “When I took the police to the agency’s address, I knew they will try to threaten me but I will make sure I get my wage dues back as well,” she said.

Sunita Kumari said she had already applied to appear for class XII examinations in her home district again.

Three persons were arrested from the placement agency premises, though the manager Mukesh Kumar was still absconding.

The National Commission for Women had proposed a draft Regulation of Employment Agencies 2007 but it is yet to be accepted and there are no national laws governing the placement agencies at present. Rishikant of NGO Shakti Vahini who was part of the team that went along with the police for the raid said there was a need for a policy on domestic workers.

“It is commendable that this girl was willing to come all the way from another state to Delhi to give information on her employer and she was so keen to get her school certificates back. We will extend to her all help in getting her wages back as well,” said Inspector Aradhana Singh of Anti Human Trafficking Unit.

“When I said I wanted to leave, he(Mukesh) threatened me saying he had all my school documents etc. Then I decided to escape and also get my certificates back

Sunita Kumari (name changed)

Board exam result brings happiness to trafficking victim

SHAKTI VAHINIPUBLISHED IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

NEW DELHI: Days after writing her class 10 board exams, 17-yearold Rashmi (name changed) was trafficked from a small village in Assam to Fatehabad in Haryana for forced marriage. For two months, she lived away from her family at a place where she was sexually assaulted and made to do household work.

Rescued earlier this month, the girl was still in shock and unable to overcome the trauma. Last week however, her exam results brought cheers to her life as she passed with 51%.

The survivor hailing from Barpeta in Assam belongs to a farmer family. “She is the eldest daughter of the family and is setting a very good example to her four younger brothers and sisters to work hard. She is an inspiration and proves that poverty cannot always hamper the growth of a family. Despite facing such a tough situation, she is ready to study further and has asked us to assist her,” said Rishi Kant, activist with Shakti Vahini NGO, which had rescued her.

Despite having been traumatised, the girl is optimistic about her future. After having passed her board exams, she now aspires to continue with her higher secondary education. She hopes to one day become a teacher.

“In India, social stigma is very much prevalent throughout all societies, her success is also contributed by her parents’ support who are willing to educate her further,” he added. “These success stories help strengthening government policies for extending their support to victims of human trafficking. These girls whom we call survivors are the real inspiration and strength for us in fighting human trafficking,” Rishi Kant further said.

Rashmi was trafficked to Delhi two months back and was sold to a family in Haryana for ` 80,000. Before selling her to the family she was raped by the trafficker and h

Jharkhand teen leads cops to job agency

SHAKTI VAHINI    12J

By AMBIKA PANDIT IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: All of 17 years old, a tribal girl from Jharkhand’s Khunti district—a belt affected by Maoist violence—led Delhi Police and an anti-human trafficking team from her home state to the placement agency in Taimoor Nagar in south Delhi on Friday.

A victim of bonded labour, she was not just denied her wages but the owners of the placement agency also took away her certificates documenting her educational growth. Another girl, who is 14 and from the same district, was rescued on May 5 by volunteers of NGO Shakti Vahini from Kashmere Gate ISBT. She had been beaten by her employers in Chandigarh.

The two girls are examples of a worrying trend. More and more girls are being lured in by traffickers from areas suffering Maoist violence to Delhi and other metros by the promise of a better life. These two girls will, however, leave for their native state on Monday.

“I came to Delhi with a few girls who already worked here hoping to get work based on basis of my Class X result and the short course I had done in the hospitality sector. I was shocked when the man tried to place me in a job as a domestic worker. He took away my documents and, when I refused to take this job, hired me to work in his office. He never paid me the promised salary of Rs 7,000. I finally fled to my village in February and filed a case against him with the labour department,” she told TOI.

Aradhana Singh, the police officer in charge of AHTU in Khunti district and here to take the girls home, said most people don’t complain when girls go missing because they fear attacks from the Maoists who may see them as police informers. Social activists from NGO Diya Sewa Sansthan from Jharkhand said in 13 years just about 360 FIRs have been registered in trafficking cases and only in one case a trafficker has been sentenced to a jail term.

“They slapped me every day, shaved my head forcibly”

Shakti Vahini

By Anumeha Yadav in The Hindu

New Delhi: Three weeks after she reached the Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) at Kashmere Gate from Chandigarh after being dismissed without wages by the household where she had worked, 12-year old Ritika Mundu (name changed) waited at the Jharkhand Bhawan with her father, police personnel, and activists who had reached Delhi from Jharkhand. Dressed in a red and green lace frock, with her head tonsured, the slightly-built tribal girl spoke softly taking several breaks as she narrated her journey from a village in Jharkhand to Delhi and then Chandigarh, where she worked as a domestic help. “The aunty lived with her husband and grandson. I woke up at 4 and first cleaned two toilets, and then did the dishes. She would give me roti and dal to eat in the morning and then nothing till night,” said Ritika. “She would slap me almost every day, even when I tried to do the work well.

Then one day she wanted to cut my hair saying there were lice in my hair. I told her this was not true. I tried to stop her but she forced me one day and shaved my head,” narrated the young girl. The 12-year-old tribal girl narrated that she had completed Class VI last year in her village school in Khunti district’s Murhu block before dropping out of school. Her father worked as a farm labourer. She said she had been brought to Delhi by a woman Phaguni Mundu from her village in Khunti in April. Ritika said she, her 10-year old-cousin Uday Mundu, and another boy boarded a bus from the village with Phaguni Mundu on April 5 without informing their families.

Phaguni took her to Chandigarh to work as domestic worker and she was not allowed to contact her family. Her employers had thrown her out of their house on May 4 after which she caught a bus to Delhi. “Aunty got very angry one evening and asked me to leave the house. It was 5 pm. I still had Rs. 100 from when I had first come to her house. I walked a long time searching for the bus stand. Then I got on to a bus to Delhi which reached here next morning,” she recounted, showing tickets of Haryana Roadways buses she had preserved carefully.

She had been spotted crying by vendors near ISBT who had alerted the Kashmere Gate police post, who in turn had informed the NGO Shakti Vahini. “Such instances of trafficking of minors by placement agencies, their mistreatment keep recurring yet neither Central nor State governments have issued guidelines for rehabilitating the children, or to ensure they return to schools to get good quality education,” said Rishikant of NGO Shakti Vahini. “PM Narendra Modi made several promises for tribal welfare while visiting Jharkhand before elections. We wait to see what action his government takes now,” he said.

The NGO has rescued over 70 children working as domestic workers from Jharkhand alone from January till now, he added. “Provisions for rescue for trafficked children are done in a piecemeal fashion. Often there is no clarity on even which department will fund the trip or the costs of bringing the children back when we receive notifications on missing children found in another city,” said an Anti-Human Trafficking Unit Inspector that had accompanied the team requesting anonymity.

In 2013, Ranchi-based NGO Birsa had recorded that there were 14 children missing from villages in Murhu block alone – where Ritika’s village lies – in Khunti. In March 2013, Miti Purti (name changed) from the same district as Ritika returned from Delhi with a debilitating skin infection, earning Rs. 27,000 after working seven years in Delhi. Mani Dondray, 15, worked in Delhi for seven months but had to return after she contracted TB and became severely underweight.

Abused domestic help says she is being pressurised

SHAKTI VAHINI

PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

The victim, who was rescued from Vasant Kunj, says she was forced to sign documents

Seven months after Phul Murmu (name changed), who used to work as a domestic help at Vasant Kunj, was rescued with signs of torture and physical abuse, she has complaint to the police of being pressured to sign documents against her will by two men. She made the complaint to the district police at Sahibganj in Jharkhand on Friday, where her family lives.

“On Thursday, two men came to my house at Atgama village. I had left with my mother to help in her work, lifting sand. They forced my sister to bring them to the river bed where we were working and asked me to sign documents, which I could not read. When I refused, they offered me money and then threatened me. They forced me to sign them,” Phul Murmu told The Hindu over the phone from Sahibganj, where she has been living in a hostel run by NGO Mahila Samakhya. “The girl made a complaint of being forced to sign documents by two men. We are investigating the matter,” said Sahibganj’s Superintendent of Police A.B. Ram.

NGO Shakti Vahini wrote a letter to Jharkhand’s Director General of Police and the Chief Secretary asking them to take cognisance of the matter. “There have been instances of victims being pressured and coerced to change their statements, and this could be one of them. This must be checked and investigated thoroughly,” said Rishi Kant, activist with Shakti Vahini in Delhi.

Phul Murmu, a minor at the time of her rescue in September 2013, bore injury marks all over her face. Vandana Dheer, her employer, was then working as the head of corporate communications with French multinational Alstom.

Murmu had stated that during the four months she worked at Dheer’s house in posh Vasant Kunj, she had hit her with hot utensils, used a knife to peel her skin, and made her drink urine twice to punish her. Dheer was arrested in October under Sections 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons), 342 (wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code, and the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, and got bail two months later.

Dorothy, accused of running a placement agency that trafficked Phul Murmu from Jharkhand, got bail in October 2013. There has been a spate of incidents over the last year of domestic workers fleeing or being rescued from Delhi’s residential colonies and placements agencies after they being beaten, and in several instances sexually assaulted. Murmu’s rescue by the Delhi Police and Shakti Vahini was soon followed by a case in November in which Dhananjay Singh, the then Bahujan Samajwadi Party sitting MP from Jaunpur, U.P., and his wife Jagriti Singh were arrested in connection with the death of Rakhi Bhadra, a 35-year old domestic worker, in their house.

These cases have, however, not deterred abuse of domestic workers. On April 27, a tribal girl in her late teens from Singhbhum in Jharkhand working as a domestic worker in Model Town was found dead with injuries.

Her employer businessman Sachin Jindal and his wife Shilpi Jindal were arrested in connection with the death.

Rescued girls receive threat calls, told not to depose in court

Image (746)PUBLISHED IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

NEW DELHI: As many as seven girls rescued recently from a GB Road brothel have barely recovered from the trauma of being holed up in a wooden box, but their tormentors have continued to make their life a living hell. They girls, who are desperately trying to lead a normal life, are being threatened by their tormentors against deposing before court.

According to the NGO Shakti Vahini, the calls are being made from a West Bengal number. “This clearly indicates that its an organised racket. Trisha (name changed), who is one of the eight survivors, was rescued from GB Road by the joint intervention of Delhi Police and our NGO. She received a threat call and immediately informed us,” said Rishi Kant, executive director of NGO Shakti Vahini.

The caller said, “I will find you and not spare you”. The NGO said the survivors as well as their family were under tremendous pressure and their safety had become a major concern.“The traffickers indulge in a number of tricks and threaten them to not go to the court during trial. It has happened in a number of cases in the past,” added Kant.

The NGO members said that in a recent case of two women traffickers being sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and the brothel being shut, the survivor had received a number of threatening calls.

“In this case too, soon after receiving information, we informed the nodal officer of the anti-human trafficking unit of West Bengal and the Delhi government for their immediate intervention,” he added.

The Delhi Police and the NGO had conducted a joint raid on April 17 at the GB Road brothel. As the girls were kept hidden inside a tunnel, they were initially unable to trace them.

“After receiving more information, we contacted the police and a rescue team was formed and the brothel raided. We found seven girls hidden inside a wooden box in that raid,” added the spokesperson.

“THE SURVIVORS AS WELL AS THEIR FAMILY ARE UNDER TREMENDOUS PRESSURE. THEIR SAFETY TOO HAS BECOME A MAJOR CONCERN.

Seven years for woman who forced girl into prostitution

PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

The victim, kidnapped from West Bengal, was rescued from G.B. Road during a raid conducted by the police last year

A 26-year-old woman has been put behind bars for seven years by a Delhi court for trafficking a girl from West Bengal. She was forced into prostitution and rescued only after her brother came looking for her.

Shakti Vahini 22The court stopped short of directing closure of the brothel being run by convict Teena since the issue is part of a petition before the Delhi High Court.

It, however, slapped a fine of Rs.15,000 on Teena, which would be paid as compensation to the victim.

Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja held her guilty of illegally confining the victim and under various provisions of the Immoral Trafficking Act for forcing the girl into prostitution.

The girl was rescued from a brothel at G.B. Road by a Delhi Police raiding party.

The team had swung into action after the Kamla Market police station was informed by an NGO that a boy had approached them looking for her sister.

During the raid, the team reached a brothel where the girl came forward and identified the boy as her brother. She was taken by the police for medical examination and sent to Nari Niketan on the order of a magistrate.

The girl and her family’s ordeal were reported by The Hindu . The Delhi High Court had taken cognisance of the newspaper report.

The girl told the police and the court that in January 2013, while she was roaming outside her house in Bengal, two boys came on a motorcycle and covered her face with a cloth after which she fainted.

She said when she regained consciousness, she found herself at Howrah railway station from where she was brought to Delhi and kept in a room. The boys told her that she will have to work as a prostitute. When she raised a hue and cry, she was beaten up and threatened. Then she was handed over to Teena who took her to the brothel.

At the brothel, she was forced to have physical relations with many customers in a day for Rs.300, the victim told t

Delhi has no rules in place to care for trafficked victims

SHAKTI VAHINI

PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

Last November, the Delhi Government had submitted before the Delhi High Court that within eight weeks it would notify minimum standards of care and protection for trafficked victims. Nearly six months have gone by and despite many such cases being reported since, the notification is yet to see the light of the day.

Prior to this, expressing its displeasure over a Nepalese girl being forced to go back to the place from where she was rescued, the High Court had sent a notice to the State government asking for suggestions in this regard.

The notice was one in a series of many issued by the court, which took a suo motu of a report published in The Hindu in May 2013 about a girl trafficked from West Bengal and pushed into prostitution in the Capital. The Nepalese girl, too, was rescued around the same time and by the same NGO Shakti Vahini. She was later set free by a Delhi court, but went back to the brothel “because she had nowhere else to go and there was no institutional mechanism in place to take care of her”.

Since Delhi does not have any guidelines on the care and protection of victims, especially post their rescue, the court directed that it should adopt the ones framed by the Andhra Pradesh Government a few years ago. The Andhra Pradesh guidelines deal extensively with all aspects of standards of care be it accountability, legal aid, monitoring, benefits provided, restoration, diet and even infrastructure facilities available at care homes.

It was on November 27 that the Standing Counsel for the State Government Zubeda Begum informed the court about the eight-week deadline for taking into account the guidelines issued by the Southern State. She added that Delhi would also incorporate some additional features.

Six months on, the guidelines have not been notified. In response to The Hindu ’s question about the current status of the notification, a senior Delhi Government official said the draft has been prepared. On the delay, she said conditions in Andhra Pradesh were different from those in the Capital and hence they have made some changes.

The official, however, did not divulge what those changes were and what additional measures are there in the proposed Delhi guidelines.

Furthermore, the official said they were still in the process of building consensus on the draft. A meeting between all those providing institutional services is scheduled later this month. “Once notified, it becomes very difficult to make amendments. That is why we are taking our time,” she said.

Court orders closure of brothel after rescue of minor girl

Shakti Vahini Conviction

By AKANSHA JAIN – PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

10-year jail for two women who forced girl into prostitution

Coming across the case of a minor girl who was sold to a woman running a brothel here for prostitution, a court here has given the Delhi Police seven days to close down the brothel.

Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja, who presides over the fast track court for trying cases of sexual offences against women, passed the order while handing down a 10-year jail term to two women who had paid Rs.30,000 for the girl and forced her into prostitution at their brothel in G.B. Road.

“I deem it appropriate to exercise my powers under Section 18 of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act (Magistrate’s power to order closure of brothel and eviction of offenders) and direct closure of the said brothel,” the court said.

“SHO of Kamla Market police station shall evict the occupiers of the said brothel within seven days,” the ASJ ordered.

It also directed the two convicts, Sheetal and Rekha, to pay Rs.35,000 each to be paid to the victim as compensation.

The Delhi Legal Services Authority was also directed to recommend suitable compensation to the victim.

The girl was rescued from the brothel on February 28, 2012, by the staff of NGO Shakti Vahini and the police. A raiding party reached the brothel where the victim came forward and recorded her statement. She said she is a native of West Bengal where her father works as a contractor for building bus stands.

The girl said she had studied up to Class IX. She developed friendship with a boy, Raju, who made a false promise of marriage.

Raju introduced her to a woman who brought her to Delhi and made her stay at Majnu Ka Tila for a week. Raju had promised to join her in Delhi in three days but never turned up. The woman then took her to G.B. Road and sold her off to Sheetal for Rs.30,000. The girl said she was beaten up by Sheetal and Rekha to establish physical relations with customers.

Tribal minor girl from Jharkhand rescued in Delhi

Shakti Vahini Jharkhand

PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

Police in Delhi and Jharkhand yet to register FIR

In the most recent of recurring cases of minors trafficked from rural areas to work as domestic workers in the city, a 14-year old Adivasi girl from Jharkhand was rescued from Kashmiri Gate on May 5 after she left her employer’s house in Chandigarh. Despite a Supreme Court order last January followed by a Home Ministry directive in July 2013 that complaints of all missing children be immediately registered as FIRs, Jharkhand police or Delhi police are yet to do this.

The girl Ritika Mundu (name changed) told the CWC that she had been brought to Delhi by a woman Phaguni Mundu from her village in Khunti in Jharkhand last month. She had been taken to Chandigarh to work as domestic worker where she was beaten regularly and not allowed to contact her family. She narrated that her employers had thrown her out of their house on May 4 after which she caught a bus to Delhi. She was spotted crying and in distress by vendors near ISBT who then alerted the Kashmiri Gate police chowki, who in turn informed the NGO Shakti Vahini.

Ritika Mundu, who has been sent to a children’s shelter home, was carrying an Aadhaar card which revealed her father Kunwar Mundu’s name and her address in Hetgaon village in Khunti’s Murhu block. Her father works as a farm labourer.

Usually, the Child Welfare Committee orders registering of an FIR but they did not specify this time. “The child’s father has not yet made a formal complaint,” said a senior police official in Delhi.

“A FIR should have been registered automatically to begin an investigation into who brought her here and if any placement agency was involved. Since the family is very poor, we have offered to assist them reach their child here,” said Rishikant of NGO Shakti Vahini. He added the NGO had rescued over 70 children from Jharkhand working as domestic workers so far this year.

In Murhu block in Jharkhand, the girl’s father Kunwar Mundu told Jharkhand-based NGO Diya Sewa Sansathan that Ritika, and two other boys including Ritika’s 10-year old cousin Uday Mundu, boarded a bus from the village with Phaguni Mundu on April 5 without informing their families.

“She was in my class but stopped coming regularly to school two years back to help her father. She is a simple child but very articulate. If she had continued she would be in class VIII now,” said Devi Kumari who teaches at the government middle school in Hetgaon. The village mukhiya Devnath Mundu said the village had witnessed similar cases last year too. “Two girls who are 12 and 13 years old are missing since last year, their families found no trace of them. We reported to the thana too but there was no information. Then, last month these three children boarded a bus to Ranchi and maybe a train from there. At least Ritika was found, there is no word on the other two boys who are 10 and 12 years old,” the mukhiya Devnath Mundu told The Hindu on the phone from Jharkhand.

Studies estimate the number of children trafficked from Jharkhand is between 30,000 to 40,000. But the number of FIRs of missing children is less than 500 – a huge gap,” said Baidnath Kumar who works with Diya Sewa Sansathan in Jharkhand.