7 rural girls’ bid to get a phot-perfect frame

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With cameras in their hands, confidence on their faces and the hope for a better future in their minds, seven young girls from Palkot, hopped from one village to another, clicking photographs of every thing they thought deserved to be captured in frame. Their work will be showcased in international photographyexhibitions.
From never seeing a camera up close to being able to capture some beautiful moments, from never understanding how the device works to being taught by renouned photographers, these students of class 11 of Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya, Palkot, went a long way in just three days.

During the three-day period starting Thursday, the girls attended a photography workshop organized at the government school by Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based social organization which deals in anti-human trafficking activities and ‘24 hours project’, an international platform for photographers and journalists to showcase their work.

The seven girls were selected after the workshop which ended on Saturday and they were given cameras after arming them with the basics of photography by international-level photographers, Renzo Grande from Peru and Smita Sharma of India.

The objective the workshop was to open a new avenue for the girls, for whom skill development usually mean learning to stitch or make bamboo baskets to earn a livelihood.

The girls were asked about what they want to capture with their cameras and some came up with replies like family, birds and forests, but a few others had a different approach altogether.

One of the girls, Sapna Kumari, said, “I want to capture the hospital in my village which is locked up and the school where there is a shortage of teachers. I want to capture the problems my family and friends face so that it can reach the government and something is done towards improving the situation.”

Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini said, “These girls have been introduced to a new field in which they can have a career and they are excited about it. Before the workshop, they are taught about embroidery, stitching or handicraft. We have tried to provide a new skill development training for them in the form of photography.”

Photographer Smita Sharma said, “The pictures taken by these girls would be showcased in international exhibitions organized in US, Australia, Italy and other countries. If they continue with the training, they can have a career in photography.”

“There is a lot of option for female photographers, right from freelancing to wedding photography. In the last three days, I have seen the progress in these girls and I can say that if they really want to, they can become really good photographers,” she added.

The workshop is a part of 24 hours project, an effort to connect photographers, photojournalists and visual story tellers from across the globe. Photographers from 158 countries are a part of the project this year.

Founder of the project, Renzo Grande said, “The theme of this year’s project is on stories of women from across the world and this workshop is a part of the project where we are inspiring these girls to show us their stories through photographs.”

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Experts Demand Use of DNA Evidence to Solve Crime in India

AWhere’s The DNA? – World’s Best Crime Fighting Technology

New Delhi, Delhi, India

  • Panel recommends amendment in Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to include scientific investigation in crime
  • Science validates use of DNA as conclusive evidence in heinous crimes
  • Not enough DNA testing as GTH estimates India’s crime labs collectively complete less than 7,500 cases annually
  • DNA collected stuck in huge backlogs owing to lack of DNA testing infrastructure
‘Where’s The DNA?’, first of its kind platform organised by Gordon Thomas Honeywell-GA (GTH) brings together experts from the law enforcement, judiciary, forensics, victim advocacy, academia and media groups to discuss the imperative need to build conviction, exonerate the innocent and solve crime to expedite the Indian criminal justice system! A call to action, and an appeal to law makers and enforcement groups, it is set to promote the use of DNA evidence, the world’s best crime fighting technology!

Supporting the move, Senior Advocate Rupinder Singh Suri, President Bar Association Supreme Court of India, said, “DNA evidence is key to justice delivery system! An invaluable tool, with 100% accuracy and reliability for exonerating individuals who have been wrongfully convicted. The conventional methods of investigation by the I.O/police are a passé being obsolete and unproductive. It is the scientific investigation only which kick starts the hunt for the criminal.”

CThere is presently no specific provision under Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to manage science, technology and forensic science issues. Due to lack of having any such provision, investigating officers have to face trouble in collecting evidences which involves modern mechanisms to prove the accused person guilty. Senior Advocate Ashok Bhan, senior member of executive of Supreme Court Bar Association, added, “There is urgent need to sensitise the law makers to incorporate provisions in CrPC and Evidence act to manage science and technology in investigation of crimes and trials.”

The law machinery world over is increasingly relying on DNA forensics to solve crime, whereas, India is way behind in adoption. Lack of scientific methods in investigations and absence of a proper policy framework in the country are hampering justice. “India, needs a more aggressive DNA ‘Collect, Test and Compare’ approach for faster convictions and disposal of cases by courts,” says, Tim Schellberg, President, GTH-GA. He adds, “Over 60,000 DNA tests are completed for crime scenes annually in the United Kingdom and GTH estimates crime labs in India able to complete only 7,500 cases tested annually. This is a shockingly low number considering India’s size of population is thirteen times greater than the United Kingdom!”

Explaining the science underlying the use of DNA evidence, Dr. Durgadas Kasbekar, INSA, Senior Scientist, Center for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), further qualifies, “DNA evidence is sufficiently conclusive to solve crime as only monozygotic twins share the same DNA profile. Different tissues; teeth, bones, blood (a drop is enough), spit, semen-detected on cloth using specific staining procedures, skin cells sloughed off with sweat, yield the same DNA profile if they are from the same individual.” Therefore, outside of identical twins, no two people have the same DNA pattern.

Sharing his perspective, Senior Advocate, Vivek Sood, Delhi High Court talked about DNA evidence as the right to fair investigation that must be made a part of the DNA of Criminal Justice in India. He said, “Fair and competent investigation in a criminal case is the backbone of criminal justice in any society. Collection of DNA evidence is equally important from the perspective of the prosecution as well as the accused. Hence, collection of DNA evidence, in appropriate cases can be said to be in compliance with Article 21 of the Constitution of India which guarantees to every person the fundamental right to life and liberty.”

BTalking of strengthening investigations by DNA Profiling, Ravi Kant, Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and President of Human Rights organization, Shakti Vahini (working on anti-human trafficking and issues related to violence against women and children) expressed, “If India has to send a strong message to perpetrators of crimes and to instill the fear of the law we have to ensure that evidence collection has to be strengthened. Crime scenes have to be forensically examined, crucial evidences collected, scientifically examined & analysed. DNA Profiling offers one of the most reliable forensic evidence which can be very helpful in solving of cases”.

The session was moderated by Senior Journalist Sidharth Pandey at the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi, witnessing active support from experts, demanding use of DNA evidence and scientific approach to solve crime in India. The panel was represented by:

  • Tim Schellberg, Founder & President, Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs
  • Advocate G P Thareja, Retired and Additional District & Sessions Judge
  • N. Ramachandaran, President, Indian Police Foundation
  • Dr. Durgadas Kasbekar, INSA Senior Scientist
  • Senior Advocate Vivek Sood, Delhi High Court
  • Advocate Ravi Kant, Supreme Court of India

The panel established importance of DNA Profiling Board – A statutory body to be constituted in pursuance of 271st Law Commission Report on DNA Profiling which would undertake functions such as laying down procedures and standards to establish DNA laboratories and granting accreditation to such laboratories; and advising the concerned Ministries / Departments of the Central and State Governments on issues relating to DNA laboratories. The Board shall also be responsible to supervise, monitor, inspect and assess the laboratories. It will frame guidelines for training of the Police and other investigating agencies dealing with DNA related matters. Advising on all ethical and human rights issues relating to DNA testing in consonance with international guidelines will be another function of the Board. It will recommend research and development activities in DNA testing and related issues, etc.

Experts concluded that India must formulate rigorous quality assurance and accreditation programs for DNA testing for implementing the DNA evidence in criminal investigations. This would clearly mark distinction made between human error, attempted fraud and technical failures. While low adoption rate can be attributed to poor infrastructure and lack of policy push, the root of the problem is knowledge gaps and misconceptions about DNA forensics across all levels of our society and this dialogue and campaign on, ‘Where’s The DNA?’ is designed to eliminate just that.

About GTH-GA

Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs is globally recognised public affairs consultancy firm that has expertise with forensic DNA database policy, legislative, and law. For nearly twenty years, consultants at GTH-GA have consulted in over 50 countries and states on legislation and policies to establish or expand criminal offender DNA databases. GTH-GA collaborates closely with governmental officials, crime labs, police and the DNA industry. GTH-GA operates the DNAResource.com website that has been used as the world’s primary source for DNA database policy and legislative information since 2000.

Survivor Volunteers as Bait to Net Traffickers

Published in the Times of India:

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KOLKATA: A 30-year-old trafficking victim from the Bishnupur area of South 24 Parganas took it on herself to act as a bait for cops and led them to the arrest of four traffickers on Monday . The woman was trafficked to Delhi five years ago and has been facing threats after being rescued soon after.

Threatened repeatedly to withdraw her case, the victim was even offered a huge amount to change her statement against the traffickers. The victim is a resident of Bishnupur’s Damdama.
For a woman who can barely make her ends meet -working as a daily labourer -it was an offer hard to refuse.She agreed to meet her tormentors at Sonarpur railway station on Monday night, but her motive was to use herself as a bait and help cops nab all the accused. Before meeting the accused, she had sent an SOS to NGO Shakti Vahini -which had rescued her fiver years back. The NGO in turn informed the top brass of South 24 Parganas police, who promised her of all help.
“Every bhaiphota they would re turn, bringing back painful memories.I decided to end it. My mother took the first step. She took down the numbers of the two female traffickers, one of them was identified as Deepali. They had come to my house to settle the matter. I called Deepali and recorded the conversation. When cops reached my house on the night of the operation, they asked me to ensure that I get as ma ny traffickers out in the open as possible. So I called up Deepali and claimed my mother-in-law was sick and was admitted at a Kolkata hospital,” said the victim.

The 30-year-old had demanded Rs 1 lakh so that heads of the gang get involved in the affair. “On Monday , the tormentors asked me to come to Baruipur but I refused. Later, we settled for So narpur platform 4. Even then Deepaili kept insisting me to go near an overbridge. But when I said I have to go to Kolkata for my mother-in-law’s treatment, they offered me a car ride. That is when they all showed up and the cops arrested them,” added the girl.
“It would not have been possible without the courage the woman displayed all through,” said a senior officer of Bishnupur police police station.
According to Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini -the NGO who stood by her in her fight -the incident shows how well-organized the trafficking gangs are. “The next court hearing is in December where a sentencing is expected. The traffickers desperately wanted her to retract her statement – a pressure she had been withstanding since 2014. All the other five girls rescued along with her had retracted their statements, but she had even travelled to Delhi’s Tis Hazari court to record her statement,” said Rishi Kant.
Cops said, it all started when a chance raid in GB Road by Delhi police on October 23 in 2012 led to the girl’s rescue. On November 11, 2012, the victim was given in custody of her father.

‘This is your Taj Mahal, you have been sold’: Traffickers lured six Bengal girls with trip to famous landmark, before telling them to prepare for life in a BROTHEL

By Mail Today:

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The girls, aged 17-19, from Sundarbans, did not tell their families about the trip. Traffickers lured them by saying they would be taken to the Taj Mahal. Instead, they were taken to Agra’s red light district, beaten and raped. Police rescued the stricken girls from tiny, dark and foul-smelling bunkers and tunnels in the brothel.

The mesmerising Taj Mahal, considered a monument of love across the world, is being used as bait by sex traffickers to catch young girls from far-flung parts of India and push them into prostitution.

Authorities have recently rescued six Muslim teenagers belonging to the tribal Sundarbans area of West Bengal, who were trapped by a prostitution syndicate. They were lured with an offer of being taken on a tour of the stunning 17th Century mausoleum in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra city.

The girls, aged between 17 and 19, said they had not told their families about the promised trip.

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The mesmerizing Taj Mahal, considered a monument of love across the world, was used as bait by sex traffickers to lure teenage girls from a far-flung part of India

They were first brought by bus to the Sealdah Railway Station in Kolkata, then by train to New Delhi, later Ghaziabad and finally to Agra’s red-light area of Kashmiri Bazaar.

When the girls raised questions about the suspicious location, their traffickers allegedly said, ‘This is your Taj Mahal. You have been sold. Be prepared to live all your life here now.’

The girls were rescued from the tiny, dark and foul-smelling bunkers and tunnels in the brothel on May 23, and at least 13 people have been arrested, including the female bordello owner, Meena.

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The girls, aged 17-19, from Sundarbans, did not tell their families about the trip (picture for representation only)

The trafficked girls were sent home with the Bengal police team on Friday.

Assistant sub-inspector Prabir Boll of the Mathurapur Police Station in West Bengal said: ‘We received a missing complaint from one of the girl’s mother on March 24 following which we put her mobile on surveillance.

‘We discovered that the number was active in Uttar Pradesh, Agra. Unfortunately, by the time we could establish links with our counterparts there and organise decoy customers, the girls had already been much exploited. They had been beaten with lathis and brooms, repeatedly raped and threatened into submission.’

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Innocent young girls – who survive on barely two meals a day, have little or no education and have not seen anything beyond their small villages – are most desperate to escape to bigger cities and towns

Lack of livelihood means takes thousands of girls and boys out of Bengal’s border areas every year.

While some girls are exploited as poorly paid and abused housemaids, several others end up in Delhi’s GB Road and other red-light areas in India.

Investigators say although shocking, this is just a new modus operandi in fetching girls from one of the most impoverished areas of India – North and South 24 Parganas.

Innocent young girls – who survive on barely two meals a day, have little or no education and have not seen anything beyond their small villages – are most desperate to escape to bigger cities and towns.

‘Agra has become a crucial junction in the trafficking triangle of Bengal, Delhi and Mumbai. This is like a sabzi mandi (supermarket) where girls are brought and traded, with the fact that it is a heavy tourist spot providing them easy cover or camouflage,’ said BS Tyagi, circle officer of the Chhata Police Station in Agra, which raided the brothel.

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According to government data, almost 20,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 per cent from last year (Photo for representation only)

‘Girls are taken several kilometres away so that language becomes a barrier and they cannot talk to police or customers.

‘Bengali girls are brought to UP and UP girls taken to interiors of Bengal. It’s a highly organised business with tentacles spread far and wide,’ he added.

Rishi Kant, co-founder of the anti-human trafficking NGO, Shakti Vahini, which counselled the victims, said: ‘These girls told us that they were taken in an AC bus from Ghaziabad to Agra which shows that these people have money power also.’

According to government data, almost 20,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 per cent from the previous year, with the highest number of cases recorded in West Bengal.

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Men often coerce gullible schoolgirls into sharing their mobile numbers, then taking them out for a drink or snacks and mix sedatives in them. By the time the girls wake up, they are already on the way to Delhi or Mumbai

Ajay Ranade, IG South Bengal, told Mail Today: ‘Sadly, human trafficking is a rampant problem in the state. For the same reason we have recently started the Swayamsiddha (self-empowerment) programme in class VIII to XII in 500-700 schools in our area.

‘We hold counselling classes and have set up drop boxes in schools so that girls can report to us if they are being forced into child marriage or if any boy is stalking or harassing them.

‘Men often coerce gullible schoolgirls into sharing their mobile numbers, then taking them out for a drink or snacks and mix sedatives in them. By the time the girls wake up, they are already on the way to Delhi or Mumbai.’

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Assam trafficking figures present grim picture

By The Telegraph:

A total of 259 children from Assam were trafficked in the past two years.19.jpg

According to latest figures released by the Union ministry of women and child development, 129 and 130 children of the state have been trafficked during 2015 and 2016 respectively.

These figures present a disturbing picture. The situation on the ground, however, could be far worse as many cases of trafficking go unreported.

Though the cases of child trafficking in Assam have remained almost same in the past two years, the cases of women trafficking has shown a declining trend in the state in 2016 compared to the previous year, which is seen as a positive development.

The number of women trafficked from the state has come down to 163 in 2016 compared to 187 in 2015.

According to data for 2015, released by the National Crime Records Bureau, Assam has emerged as the trafficking hub of the country.

With 1,494 cases, the state accounts for 22 per cent of the total reported cases of trafficking across India.

Assam also has the highest number of child trafficking – 1,317 cases – which account for 38 per cent of the national figure.

The ministry of women and child development is implementing Ujjawala, which is a comprehensive scheme for the rescue, rehabilitation and re-integration of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

Rishi Kant, a member of anti-trafficking NGO Shakti Vahini, described the decline in number of women trafficked from Assam as a positive sign. “It is an indication that the police, administration and NGOs working in this field have taken the issue seriously and are working in the right direction,” he said.

Shakti Vahini was involved in the rescue of women and children trafficked from Assam in Delhi and Haryana.

The number of women and children trafficked from other northeastern states is almost negligible as last year’s figures were in single digits, except in Manipur where 16 women were trafficked in 2016.

Delhi Commission for Women asks couple to pay Rs 2 lakh to help

By TOI:

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The Delhi Commission for Women has directed a couple accused of denying wages to a domestic worker for two years to pay her Rs 2,18,717 within seven days. The commission has put the onus of ensuring compliance of this order on the labour department.

 In the same order, DCW said that since the 25-year-old victim had been declared a bonded labour by the sub-divisional magistrate of Punjabi Bagh, she was entitled to a compensation of Rs 3 lakh under the revised central scheme for rehabilitation of bonded labour that came into effect in 2016. The woman’s home district in Jharkhand is supposed to pay her this compensation. DCW has, therefore, directed the magistrate to issue a bonded labour certificate to the woman to facilitate the compensation process when she returned to home. Currently lodged in a temporary shelter in Delhi, the woman is to be repatriated to Jharkhand by Delhi Police.

In the February 17 order, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal recalled that the commission, with Delhi Police, had rescued the woman in May last year from an apartment in Paschim Vihar following a complaint by NGO Shakti Vahini. A placement agency had been involved in bringing the woman from Jharkhand, but the agency owner had not been traced.

“The victim alleged that she was not allowed to step out of the house and was beaten up frequently by her employers. Further, she alleged that she was not paid any wages. She also alleged that she was not given food properly by the house owners,” DCW noted.
After hearing both sides, DCW established that the victim was engaged to work as a domestic worker by the employers through the Kamat Placement Agency. The employers told the commission that they paid the placement agency, not the woman, Rs 22,000 in the first year, Rs 13,000 in the next six months and Rs 6,600-7,000 for the next three months. They conceded that wages for 18 months remained unpaid. But since they had no receipts to substantiate the payments made to the placement agency, DCW ordered the payment of wages for the entire period from May 2014 to May 2016.

Teenager Survives rape, Torture and Sex trade for 5 years.

By Mail Today :

15-year-old girl was brought to Delhi on the pretext of job, but was raped repeatedly for five years.
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Teenager Survives rape, Torture and Sex trade for 5 years

She was brought to Delhi at the age of 15 on pretext of job. Since then she has been confined and raped repeatedly. She was also forced into prostitution and few days back when she refused to sell her body, the person who brought her to Delhi tied her and left her starved for more than three days.

The accused assaulted her, raped her, sodomised her and beat her up. He had even tried to pluck her tongue using pliers.

On Tuesday when the accused, identified as Litu Mitra, 30, stepped out of his residence in Southeast Delhi’s Govindpuri area, he left the door open. Taking the advantage of the situation, the captive Jyoti (name changed), who is 19 now, managed to escape. She reached an NGO in that area, which helped her to approach the police.

CASE REGISTERED

A case has been registered and Mitra was arrested on Friday. Narrating her ordeal, Jyoti toldMail Todaythat in 2013 she met Mitra, while she at a railway station in West Bengal. The man promised her a job in Delhi and boarded the train with her. Mitra asked her to stay at his rented residence in Govindpuri.

After two days, he raped her and filmed it. He used to blackmail with the tape and raped her repeatedly. Few months later, he allegedly forced her into prostitution. “His friends and customers have raped me, for which he got paid. Whenever I resisted, they complained about it to Mitra and he had beaten me up in front of them. And then I was forced to do what they wanted,” a pained Jyoti told Mail Today.

She had tried to escape a number of times but to no avail. Mitra has been unemployed and Jyoti became a source of income for her. She told police that there have been days when Mitra brought along seven to eight clients a day. Her medical report is with Mail Today.WHAT HAPPENED

On April 22 she was asked to serve some clients in Noida. When she objected Mitra beat her with iron rod and pipe. Then having tied her with a rope he raped her. He allegedly sodomised her as well. Jyoti has severe injuries on her chest too. “Whenever I had raised my voice, he grabbed my mouth and held my tongue with pliers.”

“On Tuesday at around 5pm, when Mitra stepped out, I noticed the door was left open. After I managed to escape, I reached a shop, luckily the owner of which ran an NGO. He helped me to approach the police,” she said.

Speaking to Mail Today, Naresh Kumar, the mentioned shop owner recalled that when she reached his shop, she was shivering. She narrated her woes and showed her injuries.

A call was made to the police control room and she was taken to Govindpuri police station. From there she was taken to the hospital for medical aide and check-up.

“Based on her statement, a case under Section 376, 366A, 323, 354C of the IPC and 6/12 POCSO Act has been booked against Mitra, who remained absconding for up to four days,” Romil Baaniya, DCP (southeast) said, adding he has been arrested on Friday evening.