Combatting Human Trafficking – Proper Investigation is the Key to Convictions

Shakti Vahini 44Shakti Vahini organized a one day Training cum Workshop on Anti-Human Trafficking and Missing Children in collaboration with Meerut District Police at meeting Hall, Police Line, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh on July 12, 2014. The main objective of conducting the meeting was to discuss the growing issue on Human Trafficking and to create awareness about the presence of different structures in combating the crime. In regard to this, issues on Human trafficking, its definition and forms along with the newly added section 370 IPC, Juvenile Justice Act 2000, NGO-Police partnership, Role of Child Welfare Committee, POCSO Act, Immoral trafficking Prevention Act were discussed.

Around 110 Police Officials of the rank Inspector, Sub-Inspector, Member of the Haryana Commission for Protection of Child Rights, CWC Chairperson, CWC member, District Protection Officer, District Child Welfare Officer, CHILDLINE representatives attended the meeting. The day long programme gained a success after receiving various recommendations and queries from the participants.

Mr. K. Satya Narayan, DIG, Meerut,  Mr. Ravi Kant, Advocate, Supreme Court of India cum President, Shakti Vahini, Ravinder Kr. Chauhan, Member, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights,  Omkar Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, Meerut, P.K. Tiwari, Superintendent of Police (Traffic) had spoken on various topics of the Human Trafficking issue.

shakti vahini 41Mr. K. Satya Narayan, DIG (Rank), Meerut inaugurating the programme argued that human trafficking is a menace problem and it is necessary for the Police department to be taken up the issue sensitively. According to him, Meerut constituting one of the infamous red light district, Kabari Bazaar, the police official while rescuing a child or a woman must be aware about the issue of the vicious cycle of trafficking children and women from other parts of the country and selling them off in Meerut and forcing them into prostitution. He argued, “After rescuing counselling is very important. While counselling, it is important to understand the entire background as to how they fell into the atrocities.”

Mr. Ravi Kant, Advocate, Supreme Court of India cum President, Shakti Vahini argued that the Trafficking of persons is the third most heinous crime in the world after smuggling of drugs and smuggling of arms and ammunition. He said, “Human Trafficking is an organized crime and it is necessary for all the law enforcing agencies to jointly work in order to combat the crime.” He also discussed various laws such as the newly added Section 370 which had for the first time defined Human Trafficking, its trends and forms and the punishment laid out for the crime. Mr. Kant also discussed on the processes how an investigation should be done by the Investigation Officers in order to break the vicious cycle of trafficking and bring more and more convictions. He also discussed about the Victim Compensation Scheme, a provision laid out for the rehabilitation of Trafficked victims.

Ravinder Kr. Chauhan, Member, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights discussed about the functioning of the Commission and argued that Police should be child friendly and also be sensitized enough in handling cases related to children. In this regard, he discussed about the functioning of the Child Welfare Committee.

Shakti Vahini 46Rohit Goyal, Coordinator CHILDLINE, Meerut briefed about the functioning of the helpline number of 1098 for providing assistance to children in need of care and protection.

Jatinder Kumar, District Protection Officer too spoke about the growing issues related to children and women and also requested the police officers to approach them whenever any help related children and  women are required.

Video on Human Trafficking issue was screened during the training programme.

The resource persons also dwelt at length about the various Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, Advisories, High Court and Supreme Court orders related to women and children.

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Civil Society and NGOs Partnership Required Combat Human Trafficking

SHAKTI VAHINI NEWS

Shakti Vahini 14 WBShakti Vahini in collaboration with South Dinajpur District Police has organized a District level Police Training programme on Anti Human Trafficking and Missing Children Alert on July 2, 2014.

The programme was inaugurated by the Superintendent of Police Mr. Sheesh Ram Jhajhariea. During his inaugural speech the SP expressed his concern about the cross border trafficking issues. He said that a major portion of the district is bordering with the neighboring country Bangladesh. The police in the district have been coming across trafficking cases from Bangladesh. He told that all police officers especially the Anti Human Trafficking Unit of the district should be well equipped with the guidelines on how to handle these cases. According to him the North Bengal area is also prone to the trafficking for domestic maids in the cities like Delhi, Bombay. A stressed on strengthening the NGO police partnership in combating the human trafficking cases in a organized manner.

Inspector (Ms.) Sarvari Bhattachajee from the AHTU Nodal office West Bengal, CID Bhawani Bhawan took a long session on Investigation of Human Trafficking cases. Citing some recent cases handled by her as per the direction of the Kolkata High Court she did a detail demonstration on how to investigate the cases of human trafficking. She discussed various pros nd cons of the investigation like not to assume anything about the case, seizing of documents on the spot during raids, victim and trafficker should be immediately separated once rescued, linking source and destination, collect evidences as more as possible. She also said that a trafficking victim from foreign should not be treated under section 14 of foreigners act rather should be treated as a victim under 363 and 370 acts.

The Chairperson, Child Welfare Committee, Dakshin Dinajpur in spite of sharing the role of Child Welfare Committee and Police partnership also shared many challenges. He said that the district immediately should start at least one children home for girls and boys each. According to him the district is also prone to the trafficking of children for the construction work in the big cities.

Throwing light on the definition of trafficking, Mr. Nishi Kant from Shakti Vahini said that it is an organised crime. He suggested the police officer to correlate the cases of trafficking with the definition given under section 370 of IPC. He also discussed why young children and girls are being trafficked. He said that trafficked victims are sold off into prostitution, forced marriages, sexual abuses, Domestic Servitude, forced labour, bonded labour, pornography, organ trade etc. He also emphasised on various Standard Operating Procedures, Guidelines, Advisories of the Govt. of India for the women and children especially the recent order of the Supreme Court regarding the mandatory registration of FIR on missing children cases.

The Coordinator of the CHILDLINE, a Ministry of Women and Child Development programme of Govt. of India also took a session on the Role of CHILDLINE (1098) in child protection.

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Women Rights are Human Rights-International Women Day in Siliguri

siliguri 14On the eve of International Women’s day Shakti Vahini, a national level anti Trafficking Organization has organized a Meeting on Women Empowerment with the Anganwadi Workers of Matigara, Kharibari, Naxalbari and Phansidewa block of Siliguri Sub Division. The programme was organized in collaboration with the Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, West Bengal.

The programme was organised as part of the Anti Trafficking and Justice Project which is supported by European Union.

The programme highlighted on the issues of “gender violence” and various “crimes against women” taking place in India with special emphasis on the scenario of West Bengal including the heinous crimes like women and child trafficking.

The programme was attended by the dignitaries from various departSiliguri 2 - Copy (2)ments like District Administration, faculties of Siliguri College.

The discussions were held on the issue of “gender violence” and how since the conception of a girl child, she has to face atrocities and adverse situations.

Even though, by any means she is able to survive and see the light o the world, she is discriminated in all aspects including health, education, dressing patterns and all other aspects of her life. It was commented by Ms. Vidhapathi Agarwal, Teacher, Political Science, Siliguri College that since birth of a child she bears the surname of her father before marriage and after marriage, she bears the surname of her husband. So, at every phase of her life she faces, “identity crisis”. Apart from that it was mentioned that not only within the family she faces crisis, but in the outside world too, she faces adverse and crisis situations where her respect and dignity is at stake. In this regard, it was mentioned that issues of “rape” and “sexual violence” is at rise in the country where everyday such cases are reported. Other than that cases of “dowry” and “wife battering” are regular phenomena in the country.

Siliguri 9 - CopyLight were also thrown on the issues of human trafficking with special focus on “women and child” trafficking where girls and women are being trafficked for various reasons from the districts of North Bengal, mostly for domestic help, forced marriage and commercial sexual exploitation and Shakti Vahini working in the field of anti-human trafficking and women rights is combating these social evils both in the source and at the destination areas.

Shri. Savari Rajkumar, ADCP, Siliguri Commissionerate mentioned that Siliguri is considered to be a “corridor” in regard to human trafficking connecting the Dooars region of North Bengal with the destination areas of Delhi and other bigger cities. He also discussed that women issues are much highlighted issues where special emphasis and concern is needed. He also mentioned that for ensuring women rights, Women Police Station is there where issues related to women are dealt.

Mr. Nishikant, Executive Director, Shakti Vahini also discussed thoroughly on the issues of human trafficking and how trafficking takes place which takes place in a channel system. Other discussions were also held on law related aspects covering the “Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005” and its intricate details.

The discussion was accelerated with the videos shown on violence against women, human trafficking and a newly introduced scheme by the Department of Women and Child Development, Govt. Of West Bengal for addressing the issues of girl child’s education, child marriage and trafficking- Kanyashree.

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Media Consultation on Anti Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women organised

IMG_6336A National Media Consultation on Anti Human Trafficking and Violence against Women was organized in the Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi by Shakti Vahini on January 23, 2014. the programme was supported by Vital Voices Global Partnership. Altogether 60 participants including journalists from Delhi, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal, Government Officers from Ministry of Women and Child Development, GoI,  NCPCR, Department of Social Welfare, Govt. of West Bengal, representatives from UNODC, European Union, UNDP, PLAN India and Legal Professionals participated the programme.

The programme showcased the panel discussion on Initiatives to Combat Human Trafficking, Violence against women and how to combat it, Missing Children, Guidelines on Media Reporting, Media Initiatives in combating Trafficking, Right based Reporting on Violence against women and Human Trafficking. Experts from the respective field shared their opinions and experiences on the respective issues.

While considering the Trafficking of Women and Children for various purposes as a serious concern the Joint Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Women and Child Development Mrs. Sharmistha Das said that her department is willing to work with the NGOs of the destinations and would like to connect all the survivors belong to West Bengal with various government schemes like kannyasree for their rehabilitation.

Dr. Madhvi from the National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Govt. of India dwelt at length about the initiatives undertaken by the mission, which is a pilot project on behalf of the Government of India. She stressed that in issues related to inter-Ministerial collaborations the NMEW can play a bring role by bringing together all stakeholders.She said all the stakeholders should work for the social development as a mission rather than a project.

IMG_6355Ms. Vartika Nanda, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism, Lady Shri Ram College and a senior journalist stressed on the right based reporting by media especially on the issue related to women and children by showcasing a self directed documentary named “Mein thi, Mein Hun, Mein Rahungi (I was, I am and I will be)”.

Ms. Silvia Costantini, First Counsellor-Political Affairs, European Union Delegation to India,  briefed the various initiatives undertaken by the European Union to combat Human Trafficking across the world.

Christina Albertin, UNODC Regional Office for South Asia, talked about the aims and objective as well as the functioning of UNODC to combat Human Trafficking. According to her, poverty is never the root cause of Human Trafficking but it involves a profit making intention in the mind of the criminal. She also told that the consent of the victim has no significance in case of trafficking if the accused has used him/her with the thought of crime and profit through her. As Human Trafficking is a heinous crime and  , she requested the present media representatives to be very careful in highlighting case studies of victims so that re-victimization of the victim does not takes place by publishing of any of his/her personal details or photographs.

Dr. Roma Debabrata, President, STOP argued that role of media is very important as it becomes the medium to reach people at large. So, the duty of media while handling trafficking cases is not to take up it as an a story only but the rights of the victims are to be taken care of at its best. Citing a recent case of child trafficking for domestic maid the senior journalist of the Times of India explained the role various stakeholders and the role of media as well.

Mr. Debashish Boral, IPS, West Bengal Police, suggested that the Anti Human Trafficking Unit should not only involve police officials but also members of other organization too such as NGO, media etc. so that special attention could be provided to such cases. According to him media should not only highlight the arrest of the accused but also keep a track on the case i.e follow-up the case well to make people aware of it.

IMG_6171Ms. Swasti Rana, PO, Anti Human Trafficking UNODC invited the positive approach of the Media representatives in taking up trafficking issues and holding a position as a medium in reporting them to the general public. According to her sensitization in bordering areas is very necessary to combat the problem.

 Mr. Satyajit Ghosh, PLAN India talked about the initiative undertaken by PLAN on Missing Child Alert Project involving three NGOs in working on the issue of Missing Children covering the districts as well as bordering areas of West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh as well as bordering countries Bangladesh and Nepal.

Mr. Vinod Kumar Tikko, Former Member of NCPCR, referring HT as a very sensitive issue argued that the role of media is very important in society and therefore it is necessary for the reporters to remain sensitized in dealing with cases of HT. According to him media needs to  report such cases with utmost care so that the survivors of HT do not undergo stigmatization.

Ms. Nirmala Nayar, MTV EXIT,  talked about the Campaign Change behaviour an initiative of the  television channel MTV to combat human trafficking. According to her, the campaign involves two formats- short and long- National level MTV India and State level MTV India. The National Level Campaign would be a TV series showcasing real life cases of trafficked survivors and the State level Campaign would involve the districts of Bihar where awareness programs would be held in each districts and materials would be distributed in those areas so that much of the audiences could be reached and sensitized.

The journalists present in the programme recommended that such type of consultation needs to be organized with the editors of the media houses as they are decision makers for the prominent coverage of the particular news.

IMG_6265Kishlaya Bhattacharjee, Senior Journalist cum Editor said, “There should be the issue based reporting and the young group of journalist should take the responsibility.” He added, “Such type of consultation needs to be organized with the editors of the media houses as they are decision makers for the prominent coverage of the particular news which is very important for the mobilizing the people and the government as well.”

Siddharth Pandey, Senior Journalist, NDTV 24X7 focused on the research based journalism during his speech. He said, “The journalists should use Right to Information Act as tool for data collection and accordingly build the story. The journalism should be fact based and with the availability of the relevant data. The data released by the parliamentarians and NCRB is a good source for the development stories. The journalist can also follow up the stories with the NGOs involved.”

Pramod Kumar Suman, the Senior Journalist, The Kalinga Times said, “the cases of trafficking and violence against women need to be followed up on a regular basis. The journalist should do the ground work before filing a story.” He adds, “Sensitization programme on right based reporting should be organized periodically for stringers.”

Sanjay Mishra, Editor, Prabhat Khabar Jharkhand & Bihar said, “The vernacular newspapers is an important media to sensitize the masses. There should be particular edition on women and children to carry the ground realities and the various government schemes available for the women and children. As an example he cited a tabloid newspaper panchayatnama which has been playing an active role in sensitizing the rural women. He said that we have to fight the demands of commercial media and stick to Rights Based reportings.

Mr. Devesh Pandey, Senior Journalist, The Hindu said, “The case of human trafficking should be investigated in an organized way. The role of the middle men needs to be investigated.” He adds, “Media’s role is to either publish and air the story and hence sensitize the people and the rest is to be done by the involvement of all the stakeholders.”

Ashis Gupta, Bureau Chief, The Pratidin said, “NGOs and all stakeholders need to involve media persons across source transit and destination areas”.We need to follow up all cases of Human Trafficking and ensure that victims who are being repatriated are provided Governmental Support as mandated by the law.

IMG_6200Pankaj Sharma, Senior Journalist, The Telegraph, Guwahati said, “The cases of human trafficking and violence against women is rising in the North eastern region. It is the right time that media should take the issue seriously in sensitizing the masses.”

Anwesha, Journalist, Eisamay said, “West Bengal  is highly vulnerable to human trafficking as a source as well as destination. Many cases of rape have recently been reported in West Bengal. Media should focus on why the young girls are being traffickjed from the state and also the root of poverty of the people which is also responsible for the trafficking of women and children.”

Mr. Ravi Kant, President of Shakti Vahini announced that Shakti Vahini will soon start programme on “Fellowships for Journalists” from the vulnerable states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Assam. He also discussed the Guidelines issued by the Delhi High Court in WP(Civil) No 787 of 2012 which has approved Media Guidelines for children. He also discussed  the recent Criminal Ammendment Act (2013) which criminalises anyone disclosing the name of the rape victim.

The One Day Consultation has come up with various recommendation as to how media and other stakeholders can join hands to combat violence against women and children.

Consultation with CWC on SOP and Missing Children organised in Purnea

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SHAKTI VAHINI

In a bid to strengthen the functioning of the Child Welfare Committees and the NGOs Shakti Vahini has organized a Consultation on Standard Operating procedures (SOPs) for the Child Welfare Committees and Missing Children Issues in Purnea, Bihar on January 8, 2013. The programme was attended by the Chairpersons and members of the Child Welfare Committees of Purnea, Kishanganj, Katihar, Araria and madepura. The representatives of atleast 22 Non Governmental Organizations and CHILDLINE were also present. Altogether 50 participants attended the programme.

r2The purpose of organizing the meeting is to discuss the issue of human trafficking with special reference to the cross border trafficking and Missing Children with the stakeholders’ and also to strengthened the link between the source and destination of human trafficking. While discussing the SOPs of Maharashtra and Delhi Mr. Subir Roy, Director (Programmes and Projects) stressed on the powers and Rules of the Child Welfare Committee with special reference to various case studies. In the day long programme the issue of cross border trafficking was discussed at length. Citing some cases of cross border trafficking Mr. Roy said, “Bihar covers international border with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. The area like Jogbani is highly prone to cross border trafficking from Nepal. There should be convergence of all the stakeholders for combating the menace. For the repatriation of the trafficked victims the concerned Embassy or the FRA should be informed.”

Discussions were held on the Supreme Court order on Missing Children and also on the various advisories and protocols of the Government of India.

Mr. Deepak Kumar, Member, Child Welfare Committee, Katihar spoke at length on the NGO and CWC partnership on the issue of Child in Need of care and Protection.

Smt. Kiran Kumari, Chairperson, CWC, Purnea, Smt. Punam Rai, Chairperson, CWC, Araria, Smt. Meera Kumari, Chairperson, CWC, Kishanganj, Smt. Rinku Dutta, Chairperson, CWC, Katihar and Smt. Punam Das Chairperson, CWC, Madepur also Spoke in the Programme.

The meeting was organised as part of PLAN Missing Child Alert Project.

Consultation on Crime Against Women and Children

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Shakti Vahini in collaboration with the Special Police Unit for Women and Children, Delhi organized a day long consultation on Child Legislations and Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 at the Conference Hall of YMCA on January 17, 2014.  The programme was attended by the police officers of the 11 Special Juvenile Police Unit of Delhi, Chairperson and Members of the Child Welfare Committee, a bench of Magistrate, members of the Child Protection Committee, Delhi. Nearly 100 participants attended the programme.

Sessions on various issues on Women and Children was taken by the Resource persons from the Delhi Police, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the advocates of the Supreme Court of India.

EDIT4Inspector (Mr.) S. S. Malhan, Special Police Unit for Women and Children took the session on “Role of Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) in Handling Juvenile issues. Mr. Malhan in his session categorically described about the role of the SJPu with various case studies. Appreciating the role of NGOs in handling the issues of women and children in partnership with the Delhi police he requested all the police officers present in the programme to take the assistance of NGOs whenever they come across any cases of Children and Women. He said, “Our police officers should investigate the cases of Juvenile in conflict with law keeping in the mind that there may be involvement of the adult in the crime and FIR should be filed against them immediately.”

Citing various landmark judgements of the High Court of Delhi and the Supreme Court of India he dwelt at length on child protection and the role of the police officers in investigation of the case. Especially on the issue of the age determination he categorically explained the role of the Investigation officers, Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Board and the respective court. He also explained the role of the Delhi Legal Service Authority (DLSA) in handling the juvenile cases. He said, “The Member Secretary of the Delhi Legal Service Authority is the nodal officer in implementing the High Court Orders.”

EDIT6Mr. Shashank Shekhar,  Member, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights spoke on the “Role of DCPCR in Child Protection.” During his presentation Mr. Shekhar said, “The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has been constituted under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 vide a notification issued by the Govt. of NCT of Delhi on 7 July, 2008.  The Act empowers the Commission to act as a Civil Court to undertake suo-motu enquiry and also look into complaints related to deprivation and violation of child rights and non-implementation of laws for protection and development of children.  The Commission is mandated to intervene in matters where-ever there is a failure to implement policies, decisions, guidelines or instructions as per the perspective of the rights of a child enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The Commission is actively and effectively monitoring rescue & rehabilitation of child labour specially involving migrant children, cases falling under Right to Education, medical crisis in schools, children’s right to play in parks, promotion of adoption of girl child, prevention of sexual abuse of children, checking child trafficking, children in need of care and protection etc.” Mr. Shashank Shekhar has also cited various landmark orders and achievements of the commission.

Adv. (Mr.) Ravi Kant had a long session on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. He gave a detailed presentation on Human Trafficking in India. He explained the recent changes in Section 370 IPC which has criminalised trafficking in persons and also prescribed stringent punishment for the offence .

EDIT9While speaking on Section 370 IPC he said that While the old section 370 of IPC dealt with only buying or disposing of any person as a slave the new section will take in its purview buying or disposing of any person for various kinds of exploitation including slavery. This provision includes organ trade. As the explanation further clarifies “exploitation” would also include prostitution. This is in addition to the ITP Act, 1956. The intention of the legislature in including “other forms of sexual exploitation” and “forced labour or services” can be read to address situations where the trafficked persons are used for pornographic purposes or services like massage parlours.

The new section also ensures that persons involved at each and every stage of trafficking chain are brought within the criminal justice system. Also by specifically including that if a person is brought with his/her consent, where such consent is obtained through force, coercion, fraud, deception or under abuse of power, the same will amount to trafficking, the law has been substantially strengthened. This will cover all situations where girls who happen to be major are duped with promises of marriage and willingly accompany the traffickers who exploit them in various ways. While earlier no specific offence was made out for the mere bringing of the girl in question now that too is criminalized.  It has also been specifically added in the provision that consent of the victim is immaterial for the determination of the offence.

The new section also differentiates the instances of trafficking major persons from minor persons. This differentiation is brought about by providing separate penalty for each with higher minimum sentence for trafficking minor persons. While earlier no minimum imprisonment term was provided, now, the minimum (rigorous) imprisonment term is fixed.

In addition the section also provides for enhanced punishment for repeated offender as well as where the offender traffics more than one person at the same time. By providing that trafficking in minor persons on a repeated conviction will attract imprisonment for life (meaning the remaining natural life) the law has been substantially changed. This will surely act as a big deterrent. Involvement of a public servant including a police officer shall entitle him to life imprisonment which shall mean the remaining natural life.

edit13Also  ‘370A. (1) Whoever, despite knowing, or having reason to believe that a child has been trafficked, employs such child in any form of labour, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but w h i c h may extend to seven years, and with fine.

 (2) Whoever, despite knowing or having reason to believe that an adult has been trafficked, employs such adult for labour, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to five years, and  shall also be liable to fine.’

 Addition of the section 370 A further adds strength to trafficking related law by criminalizing employment of a trafficked (major/minor) person. A person who has even reason to believe or apprehension that the minor/major person employed by them has been trafficked will make them criminally liable. This places a huge responsibility on the employers who were till now, let off easily under the not so strict provisions of the child labour laws and juvenile related laws.

 Here also a higher minimum prison term is prescribed where a minor person is involved. Also important is the fact that irrespective of age of the person employed, simply employing a trafficked person is an offence.

This provision will go a long way in ensuring that people verify the antecedents of the placement agencies as also get the police verification of the persons employed. This will also aide in curbing the huge demand for labour who are victims of unsafe migration.

Mr. Kant also spoke on the victim Compensation schemes of the Govt. of Delhi. He said there is various strata in the scheme under which the victims can be compensated as far as the gravity of exploitation. He added that the Investigation Officers should play the pivotal role in getting the compensation sanctioned by the concerned District Legal Service Authority.

EDIT12Mr. Vinod Kumar Tikoo, the former Member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights took an informative session on “Child Protection and Police Involvement.” In his presentation he said, “The role of Police is very important in getting a victim justice. An Investigation Officer should not keep any stone unturned for the justice of the victim as far as the investigation of the case is concerned.” He also cited the example of two states Jharkhand and North Bengal districts of West Bengal where there is a major development in police involvement of the police in the recent years.

Citing the issue of Child Trafficking Mr. Tikkoo added, “There is a kind of drugs which the traffickers use in making the victim unconscious while bringing them to the destination. The moment the victim gets back her conscious she was already sold to 2/3 persons.” He also discussed about the proactive police NGO Partnership in handling cases related to children. The joint operation of NGOs, Police and CWC is very important in combatting the child trafficking and other issues.

Ms. Ranjita Sahoo, Representative of the Child Protection Group spoke about the functiniong of the group and how the group members can help the police while handling the juvenile cases. She said that the Child Protection Group is a group of the NGO representatives working on Child Protection. The Child Protection Group has been following various guidelines of the NCPCR on “Safe Guarding the Children in The Railway Platforms.”

The Programme was ended with a vote of thanks by Mr. Nishi Kant, Exeutive Director of Shakti Vahini.

Awareness in Schools on Anti Human Trafficking

Shakti Vahini- West Bengal

With Rising number of Missing Children being reported from West Bengal Shakti Vahini -Anti Trafficking and Justice Project based in North Bengal will be reaching out to Schools to make the young adolescent children aware of the perils of Trafficking. Every year thousands of children go missing and many of them are sucked into the Trafficking Rackets.

Shakti Vahini will be undertaking this campaign in Jalpaiguri, Malda, Darjeeling and Cooch Behar District of West Bengal in the coming three months.

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Consultation on Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women

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SHAKTI VAHINI NEWS

A one day Consultation was organised in Rohtak on the issue of Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women . Police personnels from Rohtak range including the district of Rohtak , Panipat , Sonipat and Jhajjhar attended the one day consulktation. Various stakeholders like the Child Welfare Committee, District Legal Services Authority , Child Protection Officers and Protection Officers attended the consultation organised at the DRDA Hall at Rohtak.

Inaugurating the Consultation Shri Anil Kumar Rao, IG Rohtak Range asked the Police to ensure strict compliance of various laws on women and children. He said that combatting Violence against women was a priority issue for the Police and requested all stakeholders and NGO to partner together in combatting these social malaise prevailing in the society. He also spoke on recent changes in the law especially related to sexual assault of women and children.

Ms Anita Deswal , Member State Commission for Protection of Child Rights gave a detailed presentation on various initiatives undertaken by the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Mr Satish Kumar Dy SP gave a detailed presentation on the Criminal Amendment Act 2013. He spoke on various changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Penal Code and Evidence Act.

The rape tragedy in Delhi on December 2012 was followed by the creation of the J.S. Verma Committee to look into the adequacy of legislations that afford protection to women in India. The Committee recommended inter alia an amendment to the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which was first brought about vide Presidential Ordinance on February 3, 2013. The Ordinance was subsequently raised as a Bill in Parliament during the Budget Session and was passed as an Act on April 2 , 2013. The Act, known as the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, has brought about several significant changes to the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973”.

IMG_5742The Amendment has made special provisions for acid attacks. Acid has been defined as any substance which has a corrosive nature; it may include bleach, bathroom and toilet acid, Harpic, etc. Under the new section 326A a person who throws or administers acid on another person and causes damage or deformity is liable for an imprisonment that is not less than ten years, and may extend to life imprisonment. Any fine that is collected under section 326A is granted to the victim for medical expenses. An attempt to throw acid upon a person is met with imprisonment of up to seven years, but not less than five years for the attacker, under section 326B

The right of private defence under section 100 extends even to the causing of the death of an attacker under certain circumstances such as an assault from which it may be clear that death or hurt are likely to follow, an assault with the intention of committing rape or satisfying unnatural lust upon a person, an assault made with the intention of kidnapping, and an assault intended for wrongful imprisonment. The Amendment has introduced a seventh category of private defence which includes an acid attack within its ambit. If a person is apprehensive of being hurt by an acid attack, that person has a right of private defence which extends to causing the death of the attacker.

A man who makes unwelcome sexual advances, forcefully shows pornography or demands/requests sexual favours from a woman commits the offence of sexual harassment simpliciter under section 354A; this is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years.

 There are also other categories of sexual harassment that have been listed as separate offences under the Amendment. If a man assaults a woman with the intent of removing her clothes or compelling her to be naked, he commits an offence under section 354B, which is punishable with imprisonment between three and seven years.

Voyeurism is the next category of sexual harassment. Voyeurism is the act of watching a person engaged in private activities. If a man watches a woman engaged in private activities, when the woman does not expect anyone to be watching, he has committed the offence of voyeurism under section 354C and is liable to be imprisoned between one and three years for the first time, and between three and seven years for subsequent convictions.

Stalking is the last offence in the category of sexual harassment. It means following a person and making or attempting to make contact for personal interaction, despite a clear disinterest being displayed by the other person. Stalking may be committed both physically and through electronic media. If a man stalks a woman, he may be punished with imprisonment of up to three years for the first time, and five years for the subsequent convictions.

IMG_5706Mr Ravi Kant President Shakti Vahini and Advocate Supreme Court gave a detailed presentation on Human Trafficking in India. He explained the recent changes in Section 370 IPC which has criminalised trafficking in persons and also prescribed stringent punishment for the offence .

While speaking on Section 370 IPC he said that While the old section 370 of IPC dealt with only buying or disposing of any person as a slave the new section will take in its purview buying or disposing of any person for various kinds of exploitation including slavery. This provision includes organ trade. As the explanation further clarifies “exploitation” would also include prostitution. This is in addition to the ITP Act, 1956. The intention of the legislature in including “other forms of sexual exploitation” and “forced labour or services” can be read to address situations where the trafficked persons are used for pornographic purposes or services like massage parlours.

The new section also ensures that persons involved at each and every stage of trafficking chain are brought within the criminal justice system. Also by specifically including that if a person is brought with his/her consent, where such consent is obtained through force, coercion, fraud, deception or under abuse of power, the same will amount to trafficking, the law has been substantially strengthened. This will cover all situations where girls who happen to be major are duped with promises of marriage and willingly accompany the traffickers who exploit them in various ways. While earlier no specific offence was made out for the mere bringing of the girl in question now that too is criminalized.  It has also been specifically added in the provision that consent of the victim is immaterial for the determination of the offence.

The new section also differentiates the instances of trafficking major persons from minor persons. This differentiation is brought about by providing separate penalty for each with higher minimum sentence for trafficking minor persons. While earlier no minimum imprisonment term was provided, now, the minimum (rigorous) imprisonment term is fixed.

IMG_5710In addition the section also provides for enhanced punishment for repeated offender as well as where the offender traffics more than one person at the same time. By providing that trafficking in minor persons on a repeated conviction will attract imprisonment for life (meaning the remaining natural life) the law has been substantially changed. This will surely act as a big deterrent. Involvement of a public servant including a police officer shall entitle him to life imprisonment which shall mean the remaining natural life.

Also

 ‘370A. (1) Whoever, despite knowing, or having reason to believe that a child has been trafficked, employs such child in any form of labour, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but w h i c h may extend to seven years, and with fine.

 (2) Whoever, despite knowing or having reason to believe that an adult has been trafficked, employs such adult for labour, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to five years, and  shall also be liable to fine.’

 Addition of the section 370 A further adds strength to trafficking related law by criminalizing employment of a trafficked (major/minor) person. A person who has even reason to believe or apprehension that the minor/major person employed by them has been trafficked will make them criminally liable. This places a huge responsibility on the employers who were till now, let off easily under the not so strict provisions of the child labour laws and juvenile related laws.

IMG_5702 Here also a higher minimum prison term is prescribed where a minor person is involved. Also important is the fact that irrespective of age of the person employed, simply employing a trafficked person is an offence.

This provision will go a long way in ensuring that people verify the antecedents of the placement agencies as also get the police verification of the persons employed. This will also aide in curbing the huge demand for labour who are victims of unsafe migration.

Mr Nishi Kant Executive Director, Shakti Vahini spoke about various initiatives of the Organization to combat Violence against women and children in India. He stated that Shakti Vahini is committed to strengthen the governmental responses and works very closely with various statutory agencies. He said that the organization will further organise such consultations across Haryana , West Bengal, Jharkhand ,Assam , Bihar and Delhi . He thanked all participants and the various coordinating Officers who were responsible in successfully organising the one day consultation.