Trafficked tribal girl returns home with employer’s help

Pahariya Girl TraffickingPUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

A minor Pahariya tribal girl, identified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribe, from Jharkhand who was trafficked to Delhi from Agra to work as a domestic worker was rescued after her employer’s relative, who is an Inspector with the Delhi Police, informed public authorities and NGO Shakti Vahini. The girl’s family and panchayat head reached Delhi to accompany her back to her Jharkhand village.

“A few years ago, an older girl in my village asked me to go away from the village. I had never left home before and realised later that they had brought me to Agra,” recounted Sonali, in her late teens.

“The employer in Agra beat me regularly almost every day. Then after a year, Pinky brought me to Delhi,” she said.

The Delhi employer’s relative, Rajiv Ratan, informed the Child Welfare Committee and Shakti Vahini that the tribal girl appeared to be a minor and trafficked.

‘Scared and confused’

“She appeared scared and it seemed she had been trafficked. I tried to track her local police station, but she could not recall her village name, or even the State she belonged to at first. Then I informed the NGO members.

They traced her village to Pakur in Jharkhand and then we contacted officials at the Jharkhand Bhawan,” said Mr. Ratan.

Shakti Vahini’s Rishi Kant said the organisation had rescued more than 70 girls from Jharkhand since January.

“The girl’s father reached Delhi three days ago. Unfortunately, he gave the girl a sad news about brother’s death. The family was distraught. Tribal children are particularly vulnerable and we need to have more concerted efforts to prevent trafficking from home States and support the children once they reach Delhi,” said Mr Rishi Kant.

Mukhiya Narayan Mahto who accompanied the girl’s family said several children from the village left their homes for Delhi and Mumbai to work and had lose contact with their families.

Shakti Vahini has rescued more than 70 girls from Jharkhand since January

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

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.

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.

Maid to SUFFER

Published in The Pioneer

Deprived, enslaved and tortured — young girls are being trafficked into Delhi by unscrupulous maid placement agencies on false promises of decent employment and salary. According to activists, labour trafficking is the most organised crime in India, sadly without a law to curb it. Deebashree Mohanty brings you the sordid tale of the Capital’s home helps and why this crime will keep burgeoning in the absence of any effective punishment

  • July 2013: Of the 24 girls rescued from a placement agency by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, 18 were pregnant and under 15 years.
  • August 2013: Two girls from Jharkhand (both minors and seven months pregnant) were rescued from a well established placement agency in Lajpat Nagar IV. So ashamed were they about their plight that they refused to go home despite their fathers pleading with them. They said they would rather die here than face humiliation at home.
  • January 2013: Three girls were rescued from a businessman’s house in Janakpuri East. Aged eight, 13 and 16, they were bonded labour. The eldest one had had two abortions in a year and the younger one has been seriously abused. Their master sent them to his relatives’ houses to work for free. None had been paid for 18 months.
  • May 2013: A 16-year-old maid from Nepal ran away from a house in Ghaziabad. She had injury marks on her head and private parts. She had been assaulted by her employer and his brother-in-law for six months. She said she was raped and beaten up frequently. When she asked the owners to send her back to the agency, they locked her up in their basement and beat her up. Doctors say she is unlikely to recover from trauma.

 These girls are brought into the Capital, made to work as bonded labour and misguided about where they are being taken and for what purpose. Once they are here from their villages, it’s an unending trail of deceit and torture. They are exploited sexually and thrashed at the placement agency by several men. When they are “placed”as maids, they end up being physically and mentally abused by their employers

Kailash Satyarthi, founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan

Whether it is the yellow page services like justdial, or portals like asklaila or, for that matter, your friendly neighbourhood helping hand, placement agencies are everywhere — some registered, others working on word by mouth but none regulated by law to protect the rights of domestic workers.

“It is the illegal and irregulated supply chain in the form of agencies and brokers that need to be taken to task. There are no less than 250 large placement agencies in the Capital and law doesn’t recognise even a single one of them. They are all illegal and work under false alias. Most of the people behind these agencies are criminals wanted by the police or have served term for something or the other,” says Satyarthi.

In the long haul of busting such unscrupulous agents, Satyarthi adds that it is difficult to monitor such operators. “We have busted many small agencies which supply girls not just as maids but to brothels too. Still, there are many who manage to escape our notice. These are mastermind criminals who have their network in localised places. These local goons work in tandem and supply children to agency owners who then sell them off as labour. Nowadays, most agencies work under the false name of samitis or welfare societies. More audaciously, some have even registered themselves as NGOs working for child rights! This is one of the most well organised crimes difficult to crack,” senior inspector Abhjeet Ray, investigating the Pritampura maid abuse case, says.

He tells you that in this particular case, the owners had paid the maid agency Rs 35,000 as a yearly contract and a monthly sum of Rs 2,800 due to the girl was also paid to the agency. The sad part is that the agency knew the girl was being tortured but it didn’t come to her rescue.

“When my team went to rescue the maid locked up in the ground floor house No 1178 in Vasant Kunj Sector A, Ms Vandana Dhir made them wait for over four hours and showed up with her lawyer. When she opened the door, what my team saw they we will never forget. They recounted how the maid’s nails and body had been brutalised. She was is extreme trauma. She could not speak much about her sustained torture but the details will come out soon,” Rishi Kant, founder of Shakti Vahini, the NGO that helped rescue this maid from Dhir, says.

And that’s just one case. In July 2013, Bachpan Bachao Andolan rescued 13 girls who were being exploited at an agency called Adivasi Samiti which was registered as an NGO in Kirti Nagar. This so called NGO was supplying maids to houses as far away as Faridabad and Noida. More than 90 per cent of these girls were minors living in pathetic conditions in the NGO’s official premises. “They were huddled up with boys in a 6/6 room. Most of these girls had been molested. To escape the abuse, they had requested the manager to get them homes where they could work. They were so desperate to move out that they were ready to accept whatever was thrown their way. And, what may happen to them at their employer’s place was purely their luck,” Satyarthi says.

Pinki Senapathy (name changed) was sold to one such samiti by her aunt for a paltry Rs 5,000 when she was only 14. She had been brought in on a ruse of being taken to Delhi for a summer vacation. Little did she know that she would be made to work and carry out all sorts of chores for the “placement agent” to whom she was sold, and his friends. While at this agency, where she was left by her aunt, she was made to cook, wash utensils and clothes of all residents. Her master demanded all kinds of sexual favours, including oral sex which she performed on a number of occasions. Pinki got pregnant five times and bore a child out of wedlock when she was 20. She doesn’t know who the father of her four-year-old son is. Today, she is long dead.

Pinki and her son found owners in Chattarpur in 2011. She was working as a full-time maid on a Rs 2000 a month salary for all household work, including cooking three meals a day. Her employer, a banker and his wife, thought they had got a real good deal. When Pinki came to work here, she carried the wounds inflicted on her at the agency. One visit to a doctor revealed she was AIDS-infected. She was thrown out with her son immediately without a penny to her name.

“Pinki was spotted by a sevasharam karamchari who got her to us. She passed away in July 2012. Her son, who is also HIV positive, is admitted in a ward in Safdarjung Hospital,” Minu Yadav, founder and chairperson of the NGO SAVE India, says. Yadav has rescued many girls from evil agents and employers. But she is appalled that even after so much has been done and so much noise created, the Government continues to turn a blind eye to the issue.

In 2011, 314 minors died due to abuse. In 2012, the number escalated to 789 (mostly reported from Delhi) and in 2013, the number is already alarming. But with no law in place, there is no stopping such illegal trafficking of the fertile domestic workforce.

While New Delhi is the epicentre of such nefarious crimes, most girls are trafficked from Assam, Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Odissa. “In early 2000, girls were being brought from Bangladesh and sold here. But since the borders laws and the police turned strict, inter-state trafficking has increased. These criminals are no standalone individuals. They are well networked and influential,” Yadav tells you.

Satyarthi gives you an example of how such a network works: In January 2013, BBA rescued a girl from Assam when she was being arrested for selling girls of her village to agency owners in Delhi. The truth in fact was something very horrifying. It was her maternal uncle who had sold her off to a placement agency in Patparganj. After being repeatedly raped, this girl pleaded with the agent to let her go. But the agency had something else in store for her. They asked her to bring four girls as her replacement and then she would be free to return to her village.

“At first, she thought of running away. But she had no money or idea about the city. So, she complied. She got four girls to Delhi through phone calls back home. When one of her replacements ran away, she was forced to bring in another replacement. She managed to get her cousin to Delhi under the pretext of showing her the city. When she left for her village, there was quite another scene waiting for her there. The agency owners had informed the local police in Assam that she was their main supplier of girls (even infants). She was jailed and tortured for three months before our NGO rescued her,” Satyarthi recalls.

These multi-million rupee maid business is so murky and well organsied that agents hail from all kind of regions and cater to all kind of demands by future employers. Helps with specific gotra, caste, type, religion — you name it and they have one ready for you as take away.

So, is there a way out of this unending exploitation of rural manpower? Activists say that in more than 60 per cent cases, the woes of these girls only double. These helps are so desperate to get away from the agency that they succumb to whatever comes their way. They are ready to make any kind of compromise. Many die a thousand deaths before being rescued.

In August 2013, Gayatri, 18, was found locked in a servant’s room in Netaji Nagar, Type VI quarters. She had been locked up for two days without water or food. She was lying unconscious in a pool of her own urine and vomit. Gayatri’s employer, a bureaucrat, was away for a get-together when Sai Kripa rescued her on a tip-off by a cook.

Gayatri was being punished for having used the employer’s bathroom and hairbrush. She was beaten up by the bureaucrat’s wife with the same brush and dragged into the room. And this was not the first time. Gayatri had been beaten up, humiliated in front of guests and locked up without food or water on seven earlier occasions. Each time, the couple would give her food only after three days of punishment!

“Gayatri had several internal hemorrhages and she doesn’t remember any of her family members. She told us that once she was beaten up so mercilessly with a steel rod that she fractured her hand. Her employers did not take her to a hospital to get her a plaster. She was made to work in this painful condition,” Anupama Goswami from Sai Kripa tells you. The matter was reported to the police but nothing concrete has yet been done.

The biggest gap in dealing with the situation lies in the lack of appropriate measures for the recovery, rehabilitation and integration of victims. Post rescue, there are no effective measures available, particularly for victims of sexual exploitation.

“It will go a long way to have a Standard Operating Procedure, which not only defines the standards that need to be followed during the different stages of rescue, rehabilitation, repatriation and reintegration, but also define the roles of stakeholders such as the police, medical professionals and civil society organisations in this process. In the context of minors, this assumes greater significance and all-out efforts need to be made to ensure that processes and procedures are child friendly and do not allow for retraumatisation,” Vijaylakshmi Arora, Cry’s policy research and advocacy director, concludes.

Torture tale

Sitting motionless in the surgical ward of Safdarjung Hospital, Gauri (name changed), the maid rescued from 1178, Sector A, Vasant Kunj, has only wish. ‘Mujhe yahan nahin rahna hai,’ she keeps saying even in sleep. Although doctors say she is stable and will recover from the physical trauma soon, they are concerned that she may never be able to forget the atrocities meted out to her.

“When they got her to the hospital, there was swelling on her face, arms and legs. There were deep gashes, burn marks from a hot tawa and infected open wounds. There was a six- inch cut on her head infected by maggots close to the skull bone. Gauri was in shock,” a hospital attendant says.

Today, Gauri has her mother for company but she wants to go back to her village Sahibaganj in Jharkhand as soon as possible. Her mother can’t stop blaming herself for all that her daughter has gone through.

“I am to blame for all this. She came to Delhi looking for a living after her father passed away in 2010. For the first two years, she was doing quite well. She earned decently. Gauri would keep in touch, updating us about her whereabouts. In June, she wanted to leave everything and return. She was then working with a doctor couple in Lajpat Nagar. But the agency asked her to wait till December. Unwillingly, Gauri started to work with the Dhirs in Vasant Kunj,” her mother recounts.

Pallavi, who has been working with Shakti Vahni for 11 months, was present at this raid and she recounts how horrified she was to see Gauri at first.

“In just three months she was a battered girl. Gauri told me that the first time she was beaten up was when she used the western toilet wrongly. She was made to lick her own urine and served food in the bathroom. She says she spent most of her days locked in the washroom,” Pallavi says.

Incidentally, the employer was known for inhuman behaviour. “Most residents of this colony told us that there was something wrong with the Dhirs,” Pallavi adds.