“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.

Freed from brothel, girls want to ink new chapter

Image (741)

AMBIKA PANDIT IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Rescued from a wooden box at a brothel in GB Road on April 26, 17-year-old Neeru (name changed), who had been kidnapped from West Bengal’s 24 Parganas and dumped in Delhi, has been reunited with her family. The girl had appeared for her Class X exams back home. She returned to her village determined to pursue her education. Her father, who appeared relieved to have found his daughter safe, demanded speedy justice and punishment for the guilty.

The girl’s father, a daily wage earner, works as a labourer in farms. He had lodged a missing person report with the local police when his daughter had not returned from school. Neeru is his eldest child. The fact that his daughter was found at GB Road did not deter him from taking her back home.

According to social workers from NGO Shakti Vahini, who were tipped-off about the girl’s presence at GB Road by the father, this case is an example of how family can help in rehabilitation of a survivor from red-light area.

As she waited to board a train to Kolkata at the New Delhi Railway station on Saturday, Neeru narrated how she was befriended by an unknown boy who would give her missed calls on her mobile phone. One day, when she was going to the bank from school, the boy met her and asked her to accompany him. When she felt suspicious and tried to return, he forced her to board a train and she ended up at GB Road. There were many intermediaries in the chain, thrown in to prevent identification of the traffickers.

Tenacious Neeru managed to inform her father about her whereabouts using the phone of a customer. “When we got a tip-off from the father, we informed the police and a raid was organized on April 17. However, we did not find the girl. Later, a decoy customer found a 20-year-old girl from Midnapore district who was sitting depressed in a corner and it turned out that she, too, had been trafficked by a youth who had promised to marry her. She said the girl was hidden in a wooden box here. A second raid was organized on April 26 and both the girls and six other women were rescued from the box,” said Rishi kant from Shakti Vahini.

On Saturday, the 20-year-old girl from Midnapore also returned home with her father. She, too, plans to pursue her education now.

The brothel owner, Padma, had been arrested under sections of abduction, rape, illegal confinement and criminal conspiracy. Sections under POCSO, juvenile justice and immoral trafficking were also added. More arrests are likely.

In the last four years, Shakti Vahini has helped rescue 670 victims of human trafficking, including those trafficked for prostitution, forced marriage, domestic slavery, child labour, bonded labour and adoption. Around 75 victims have been rescued from GB Road.

Minor among eight girls rescued from an ‘almirah’ in brothel

express newsPUBLISHED IN THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Eight girls, including a minor, were rescued from a brothel on GB Road in a joint operation by the Delhi Police and NGO Shakti Vahini on Saturday.

Senior police officers said a woman identified as Padma has been arrested. The girls, who are from West Bengal, were allegedly trafficked to Delhi after being lured on the pretext of marriage.

The Delhi Police confirmed the raid and said the girls were hidden in a “hollowed out almirah”. “They were hidden in an almirah which had been modified to make a hiding place. Seven girls have been sent to Nari Niketan, while the minor girl has been sent to a protection home,” an officer said.

Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini said, “The father of one of the girls, who is a minor, contacted us and said his daughter was being forced into the sex trade at a brothel on GB Road. Last week, we raided the place, but could not find his daughter. However, she found a way to get a message to him that she had seen him there, but could not reach out to him out of fear. When we raided the brothel again, we found her, as well as seven other girls, who are above 18 years of age.”

“We will write to the DGP, West Bengal, and the Ministry of Home Affairs to ask for an enquiry into the trafficking of women from West Bengal,” Kant said.

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

Image (737)
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.