A 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.
Ms. 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.
Ms. 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.
Kishlaya 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.
Pankaj 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.