Thursday, July 5, 2007

Parlours selling sex may be treated as brothels

Parlours selling sex may be treated as brothels
2 Mar 2007

NEW DELHI: Government proposes to broaden the definition of ‘‘brothel’’ to include those massage and beauty parlours as well as dance bars where prostitution takes place in various guises — a move which could lead to harassment of a wide range of establishments. Working on suggestions of an NGO, Shakti Vahini, government has modified the definition of brothel in the modified Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2006. This was stated by advocate Rajiv Datta after the hearing in Supreme Court on Shakti Vahini’s PIL on trafficking of women. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices D K Jain and V S Sirpurkar expressed anguish at the slow pace in which the government was working on the suggestions of the petitioner and asked Datta to inform the court about the status of the Bill during the next hearing. Datta said the government has incorporated the changes suggested by the petitioner to make the punishment for offences more stringent and modify the definition of 'brothel' to include "parlours, bars and such places being used for prostitution to bring them under the ambit of the law", he said. These are part of the amendments under consideration by the ministry of women and child development (WCD) and include a more stringent definition of "trafficking in persons" on the lines of International Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons and "enhancing the punishment for a person who keeps or manages or acts or assists in keeping or management of a brothel".


House of horror for kids- From Bengal, enslaved trio can’t recall address

Two of the children rescued from Delhi. Picture by Shakti Vahini
New Delhi, Nov. 20: Bruises on their bodies and trauma on their faces, the three children stare vacantly out of a dimly-lit room in a Faridabad police station. All from Bengal, they don’t remember their exact addresses, except that their village is somewhere in Midnapore.
Rescued on Saturday from the house of a local businessman, Sujata, 6, Santoshi, 8, and Sita, 12, will be shifted to Nari Niketan, a home for women and kids, in nearby Karnal.
“The medical report hasn’t come in yet, but there is no doubt that these children were subjected to inhuman behaviour,” Mahipal Singh, the officer investigating the case, said.
After being rescued from the businessman’s Indra- prastha Colony home in Faridabad by Shakti Vahini, an NGO, the children were handed over to the local police station.
While Sujata and Santoshi had apparently been kept in the house for “domestic work” for two years, Sita, the oldest among them, had been brought about a year back.
“These are the trafficked children from Bengal. The investigation must go beyond the National Capital Region, right up to Bengal, to ascertain how and by whom, these children were trafficked,” said Jagdip Rawat of Shakti Vahini.
The case not only exposes child labour and cruelty, but also involves bonded labour as these children were kept in illegal confinement and forced to work without wages, Rawat said.
In his statement to the police, the businessman claimed he brought the children from a placement agency for domestic help in Delhi. He said he initially paid their wages to the agency, which, he claimed, stopped contacting him later. He didn’t recall its name or address.
Equally unexplained are the bruises on the bodies of the kids.
In his statement, the businessman said the injuries were caused by infighting among them, but the wounds are far too serious to lend credence to his version. The medical report is expected to throw more light.
Meanwhile, Shakti Vahini has alleged that police are showing leniency to the businessman. “The accused has not yet been arrested. Even the sections that have been levelled against him relate only to the juvenile justice act and the IPC. The laws on prevention of child and bonded labour must also be used against him,” said Rawat.


Stopping the Traffic
Slavery is not dead in India. Fuelled by trafficking, it is spreading far and wide. Thousands of Indians, especially women and children, are trafficked everyday to some destination or the other and are forced to lead lives of bondage. They survive in brothels, factories, guesthouses, dance bars, farms and even in the homes of well-off Indians, with no control over their bodies and lives. Women and children are also being trafficked for illegal adoptions, organ transplants, the circus and the entertainment industry.In 2000, the United Nations defined trafficking as: "The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception...for the purpose of exploitation...Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. "Although cross-border trafficking of women and children has been a problem in India for the last two decades, NGOs and academic researchers say that there has been a phenomenal growth in inter-state trafficking in the last five years. While India is both a source and conduit for international traffickers, 89 per cent of trafficking in India is inter-state.
Shakti Vahini, an NGO working on anti-trafficking issues, claims that traffickers are not just getting women and children to brothels or to tourist spots: young women from conflict-ridden states like Assam or drought-prone states like Andhra Pradesh are being sold as 'brides' in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. It is well-known that due to rampant practice of female feticide in the last two decades, Haryana has a severe shortage of women. The traffickers, who include even women, lure young girls with the promise of a job or simply abduct them and bring them to Haryana. Here, they are not married, but kept as 'wives' by men. Shakti Vahini says these women are caged in homes and undergo rape almost everyday.
Several tribal women and minors from states like Jharkhand and Bihar reach Delhi and NOIDA to work as domestic labor. A few months ago, the Human Rights Law Network, the National Domestic Workers movement and the National Commission for Women organized a public hearing of domestic workers (some as young as eight years) in Delhi. They all had horror tales to tell: some children said they are beaten with brooms, rods and belts. The women are often raped and if they try to leave, they are not paid their wages. Several of these women come from 'placement agencies' which have mushroomed all over Delhi.
In some parts of Punjab, women and children (mostly dalits and tribals) from states like Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand are increasingly being used as farm labor. They are sold to rich farmers who use them as bonded labor: they get no money, no rest and no freedom. One researcher has described what these persons face in the first few days of being trafficked. "They are starved, locked up in dark rooms, burnt with cigarettes butts, bound and tortured and sometimes killed for not trading their bodies. Children usually relent in seven to 10 days..."
While earlier women and children were largely trafficked from poor states, today the northeastern states - Nagaland, Assam and Manipur - have also joined the list.
In 2004, a report, 'Action Research on Trafficking in Women and Children in India', commissioned by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) - in collaboration with UNIFEM and the Institute of Social Sciences - revealed that every year over 22,000 women and 44,00 children are reported missing in India. Of these, more than 5,000 women and 11,000 children are not traced. Many of the persons missing are actually trafficked. In states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tamil Nadu, the rate of missing children had increased from 100 to 211 per cent!
Like slavery, trafficking offers huge profits. According to the NHRC report, transactions in prostitution itself are worth Rs 185 million a day Rs 370 billion per year. Human trafficking is globally the largest source of profit after arms and drug trafficking. And, comparatively, the least risky. Experts feel that the government, law enforcement agencies, politicians and the general public should be more pro-active in tackling the issue. In 2004, the US government put India on the Tier 2 Watch list (along with six other Asian countries), for its inadequate response to the trafficking issue. The US government has also threatened to impose sanctions if the situation does not improve.
The Indian government has made efforts to prevent trafficking in the last few years. But a lot more can be done by engaging with important stakeholders from the judicial and law enforcement sectors. Strengthening of inter-departmental (government) collaboration and cooperation and bringing in accountability and transparency in government actions are areas that need to be worked on.
In 2002, Shakti Vahini filed a public interest litigation seeking to know how far the states had been able to implement the recommendations (made in 1998) of the Report Committee on Prostitution, Children of Prostitutes and Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking and Commercial Exploitation of Women and Children. Two years later, the states submitted their replies: none, except Andhra Pradesh, appeared to have taken any concrete steps. Some states have not even formed the basic committees to coordinate work on anti-trafficking. None of the state governments have conducted any mapping activity to determine the extent of trafficking, an essential requirement under the plan.
Training police officers to handle cases with greater sensitivity; setting up minimum standards of care for survivors of trafficking; coordinating law enforcement in the case of missing persons - the states have not set these processes in motion. Despite the enormous number of people trafficked, very few traffickers are arrested and prosecuted.
Of course, despite the cracks in the system, there are rays of light beaming through. Small, though significant, initiatives have been taken in recent years by NGOs by creating awareness on the issue, rescuing trafficked persons and getting the traffickers arrested.
However, this is a mammoth task. War against slavery needs a multi-disciplinary approach. Women and Child Development, Labour, Home and External Affairs - all these agencies must move beyond rescue operations to rehabilitation and integration of trafficked victims.
But this is not the government's problem alone. Ordinary citizens - those who don't mind hiring children in their factories or homes; who discriminate against the girl child; who look the other way when the issue of the use of children in sex tourism is brought up; who buy organs without bothering to check how the donation has been made; and who cannot see that the largest number of poor people are women - can be major agents of change.
The foundations of several ancient civilizations were based on slavery. Global India must not repeat history.


Shakti Vahini to conduct workshop on human rights
HERALD NEWS BUREAUPANJIM, APRIL 13 — Indian journalists will participate in an upcoming two-day workshop in the State, to focus on two pressing human rights issues, human trafficking and the selective abortions of females.
The workshop is scheduled for April 23 and 24 and about 50 journalists have already been selected to participate. The Indian human rights group Shakti Vahini is organizing the event with support from the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), according to a report in the International Journalists Network.The workshop will help the journalists learn more about covering the issues of human trafficking and female feticide. A recent study by the British medical journal The Lancet found that about one in every 25 female fetuses is aborted in India – or about 500,000 per year. The practice has deeper implications for society, as there are about nine girls born for every 10 boys in India, the report stated.


India's Other Virus Human Trafficking And The Spread of HIV

News Update received by email from the author.On Monday, 21 August, Seelu (main character in story) was at New Delhi station and walked right into the very woman who had trafficked her. She immediately rang Shakti Vahini (an NGO active in anti-trafficking, HIV prevention and health outreach) and managed to keep the woman (Rukmani) distracted for an hour by feigning interest in buying girls herself, before Shakti Vahini arrived and an arrest was made. Shakti Vahini told me she handled the situation with great presence of mind. The incident was on that night's TV news and in the next day's newspapers.

The case against Rukmani and the brothel to which the girl was sold is very strong as Shakti Vahini has a lot of supporting evidence. But the girl's nayika (controller inside the brothel) has apparently sincedied, so action will probably be taken against the brothel owner. But the big scoop is that a diary was found on Rukmani with details of all sorts of contacts in Delhi's and Mumbai's red light areas to whom she has allegedly confessed selling girls. Because the Indian Home Minister's constituency includes the district in Maharastra where this woman operates, Shakti Vahini is now writing to urge him to launch a full scale investigation of all the girls that have disappeared from that area, on the strength of this find. So this chance encounter may come to have very big ramifications.
Beginning of original article
India's looming HIV disaster terrifies the rest of the world, and its potential to outpace Africa as the world's largest reservoir of the virus has brought out the big money to contain it. World Bank funds are flowing into HIV-prevention programmes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $200 million to galvanize leadership at the institutional level and change behaviour among high-risk groups. The Clinton Foundation is assisting India's National AIDS Control Organization to train large numbers of doctors in the basics of HIV medicine and broaden access to treatment.
A commercial sex worker in Mumbai, India © WHO photo/P. Virot
And change is happening. Programmes to distribute free antiretroviral (ARV) drugs have been established and safe sex campaigns are gradually entrenching condom use in Delhi's GB Road and Mumbai's Kamatipura red-light districts-notorious epicentres of infection. But the spread of HIV is not merely a practical problem that enough condoms, drugs and doctors can bring under control. For underlying this epidemic is a phenomenon of greater magnitude and complexity which threatens to overwhelm the impact the Clinton and Gates Foundations' combined expenditures might make. This is India's vast, murky, semi-criminalized, semi-tolerated trafficking of girls from economically marginalized States into coerced marriages, forced labour and prostitution.
Trafficking is an issue that struggles for attention in India's overburdened social policy arena. While HIV/AIDS funding is becoming something of a "cash cow" for better positioned agencies in the field, according to a Times of India article, trafficking is an area of under-resourcing and government inertia. Yet, to the extent that trafficking is a direct contributor to the pattern of infection, HIV-control strategies require a distinct set of policy measures targeting its underpinning organizational structures. Identifying those targets and how to act on them has relevance for curbing the link between HIV and trafficking, not just in India but elsewhere in the Asian region, particularly in Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia, where there are substantial movements of young women from circumstances of poverty into prostitution. How this transfer is effected may vary from country to country, but the mechanisms at work in India are far more widespread, recurring in neighbouring countries as well.
Take the case of Seelu, a girl in her early twenties who had been trafficked four years earlier to Delhi from Maharashtra. She had fallen ill with tuberculosis and was being monitored by Shakti Vahini, a non-governmental organization (NGO) active in anti-trafficking, HIV prevention and health outreach on GB Road. A seemingly unremarkable business precinct specializing in machine tools, pumps and presses, up to 3,000 prostitutes live in overwhelming monotony in this small area, with little hope of a future once they can no longer compete with younger recruits to the cycle of sexual super-exploitation and infection. The Delhi Government's latest survey puts the HIV-infection rate on GB Road at 12 per cent, considered to be an underestimate by many.
The girls are highly controlled through fear. "They are told these NGO people who come to the brothels can't be trusted, that if they go away with them they will just be sold again", Shakti Vahini's Director Ravi Kant explained the reluctance of trafficking victims to seek help. Outsiders are viewed with deep suspicion, the police, with outright apprehension. "They know the police take bribes from the brothel owners. They are told if they complain they will be taken to the thana police station and raped as punishment for making trouble." Seelu was particularly well placed to doubt the police: her brothel owner had had a long-standing affair with a local police commander.
"Once the girls enter the brothels, they are sold several times over", Ravi is talking about their udhar debt, which increases exponentially as ownership changes hands-it's a contrived inflation. With little prospect of paying off, the girls are locked into years of servitude. To unravel the money nexus is to begin to comprehend the vested interests feeding off this system that block effective control of trafficking. After haggling down the starting price, a customer finds himself importuned over again for baksheesh, but the baksheesh is about all the girl will keep for herself. The rest of the money is entered into meticulously kept chits held against each girl's name: half will go to the owner, who has accounts to settle with building owners and hafta to buy off police and other officials to disregard the illegalities of the trade; the other half goes to the nayika.
It took Shakti Vahini a long time to identify Shobha, Seelu's nayika. Seelu kept her connection to Shobha well concealed for good reason: she was a figure of real power. A short, fat woman with gold jewellery and palpable air of command, fussed over by half a dozen girls, she took Seelu's money, beat her and never allowed her unaccompanied outside the brothel. Shobha was the key to understanding what Seelu was up against. The nayika, a term equivalent to boss lady, occupies a role absolutely pivotal to the brothel system. Usually older ex-prostitutes, they have survived by saving money and gradually acquiring girls of their own. Several nayikas might rent space in one brothel; the organizational effect of this is akin to cell structures used in spy networks to isolate individual operatives and frustrate outside penetration. The girls are not only physically and psychologically cut off from the outside world, but they are also divided amongst themselves by the pressure of competition with girls working for other nayikas.
Nayikas are also instigators and the end point behind the flow of trafficked girls, employing their connections to bring girls from their home regions. Both Seelu and Shobha were from the same town in the border region between Maharastra and Andrah Pradesh, a major supply zone for trafficked girls. Nayikas pay the go-betweens, the dalaals who know where the vulnerable families are-whose crops have failed, whose breadwinner has died-and inveigle daughters away from gullible parents and arrange transport to Delhi. Little room for compassion exists in the relation of a nayika to the girls she controls. A veteran of a brutalizing system, she knows all their motives and evasions; her livelihood depends on working the girls relentlessly. It is a relationship that mocks calls to legalize prostitution in order to regularize their rights. Few of the attributes of a regular employment relationship can exist in this environment. As Seelu put it, "our lives are like of animals".
"If a girl stops earning, she won't last long in there." Ravi heard of one girl, who after breaking a leg was simply dumped on the street until well enough to resume work. Asked if she felt any obligation for the costs of her tuberculosis treatment, Seelu was scathing: "Shobha paid that money only because I made money for her. Girls who get sick and are not making money are left in a back room to die." This callousness is responsible for much of the HIV problem. "Meeri majboori", Seelu answered flatly when asked about her inconsistent use of condoms-an expression that conveys compulsion, having no option and by which she meant that Shobha would not tolerate displeasing customers who wanted to dispense with them. And if their nayikas won't educate them and back them up, where else are intimidated, barely literate young girls going to find the capacity to insist on safe sex with ignorant or uncaring customers?
Seelu had an even more compelling reason to obey Shobha. "A Nayika will work a girl for a few years when she is young and making a lot of money, then let her get pregnant and take the child and keep it. Once she has control of the child, the mother cannot run away." Seelu's two children were born before she was trafficked, in a young marriage that failed because her husband drank and beat her. Going against the tradition of arranged marriages had alienated her family, who were too poor anyway to be much support when her love-marriage foundered. So when Seelu was approached for a job as a domestic servant in Delhi, she had already fulfilled three of the disposing conditions for trafficking. "There are four main reasons girls get drawn into prostitution", Ravi explained, "poverty, domestic violence, divorce and desire for easy money. Poverty is by far the biggest cause of vulnerability." Within moments of arriving at New Delhi station, Seelu was driven straight to GB Road and her children taken from her. For a long time she held out, but alone in a vast impersonal city, speaking little Hindi, with no money and no way of finding her children, Seelu was utterly trapped.
Getting the message out: Shakti Vahini's health outreach workers provide HIV-prevention education to sex workers and their customers. Photo/Shakti Vahini
The Government's stance against trafficking is ineffectual and confused at the highest levels. The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA)-India's principal legal response dating back to 1956-prohibits trafficking in persons, criminalizes sexual exploitation and enhances penalties for offences involving minors. Prosecutions of traffickers are rare, however. In the assessment of the United States State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report, the administrative machinery to support ITPA languishes. Police simply do not utilize all the ITPA provisions, diminishing the penalties against traffickers and brothel owners.
Trafficking is inherently an interstate phenomenon, but efforts to investigate trafficking across State borders are encumbered by lack of coordination among States' police departments. But where the subversion of government anti-trafficking measures particularly occurs is with the endemic complicity of lower-level law enforcement officials-the local police's accommodations with dalaals, border guards facilitating the interstate movement of victims, and police officers tipping off nayikas to impending raids for underage girls.
Investigations by Shakti Vahini, the anti-trafficking NGO, into the disappearance of an underage Assamese girl trafficked to Haryana reveals why the local police steadfastly declined to take action against the dalaal despite evidence of at least 11 girls trafficked by her. Lured herself from Assam on a pretext of marriage to a rich Haryana landowner, but sold instead to a landless pauper, she had turned this dismal experience into a skill of sorts, enticing other poor girls from her home region. The acceptance of bride-buying in Haryana and the large numbers of men ready to pay for brides made her services as a dalaal an avenue to social acceptability and income. However, her customers complained she was blackmailing them with threats to expose underage marriages-money she insisted was being siphoned by the police threatening to arrest her. This dalaal was effectively an agent of rent-seeking behaviour by the police.
Shakti Vahini's tactic was to work on Seelu's awareness. "Sometimes girls rebel against their nayikas. Once they find out about their rights, they begin to realize they can fight back." It was a confrontation with Shobha over seeing her children more often that pushed her over the edge. Seelu one day slipped away to one of GB Road's ubiquitous phone stalls and called Ravi: "I have left that place." It took Shakti Vahini another month to track down her children through their contacts. Girls like Seelu enter the world of trafficking through an act of casual deceit and, because of their social marginality and tenuous formal identification, exist in a zone of structural invisibility to the authorities, an indifference compounded by lax law enforcement that permits the trafficking market to flourish.
Constraining the market makers is essential to limit HIV propagating through the pathways of the human trafficking trade. What Seelu's story illustrates is the urgency for incisive action aimed specifically at breaking the nayika system in the brothels, the nexus between nayikas and dalaals, and the complicity of local authorities. This needs to be made the focus of intervention right across the Asian region wherever naïve girls like Seelu take that fateful first step.
Postscript: Had Seelu not called Ravi, she would probably now be dead. Seelu was subsequently diagnosed as HIV-positive. Her tuberculosis-the biggest killer of HIV-positive people in India-was resurgent because of the drug-resistant strains and insalubrious living conditions on GB Road. She is receiving free ARV drugs through the Delhi State AIDS Control programme and TB treatment through NGO Shakti Vahini, where Seelu is being trained to work on its sex worker outreach programmes as an HIV-role model and educator.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Child labour ; various forms of chield labour

Child Labour : Various Forms of Child Labour
Domestic Service Children in domestic servitude may well be the most vulnerable and exploited children of all, as well as the most difficult to protect. They are often extremely poorly paid or not paid at all, terms and conditions depend on whims and fancies of their employees and take no account of their legal rights; they are deprived of schooling, play and social activity, and emotional support from friends and family. They are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. (MENTION EARLIER CITED CASES OF INDIA Ref SAACS).
The isolationism makes it difficult to discuss exact numbers. Local surveys have however reflected on the gravity of the problem.
A survey of middle income household in Colombo showed that are in three had a child under 14 yrs as domestic worker.
A survey of domestic workers in Uruguay found that 34% had begun working before they were 14.
A survey in India noting that 17% of domestic however were under 15 years old, reported that girls aged 12 to 15 were the preferred choice of 90% of employing households.
Even when not sexually abused, child domestic can suffer severe damage psychological, & social.
Force and Bonded LabourMany children find themselves in effective slavery. In South Asia, this has taken on a quasi – institutional form known as ‘bonded’ child labour under this system, children often only 8 or 9 yrs old are pledged by their parents to factory owners or their agents in exchange for small loans.
In India, this type of transaction is wide spread in agriculture, as well as industries such as cigarette – rolling, carpet – making, matchstick – making, slate and silk. The most notorious of these is the carpet industry of Mirzapur – Bhadohi – Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
Most, most - exploited children belong to the most marginalized segments of society.
Though this kind of virtual child slavery is usually associated only with India, Nepal and Pakistan, it exists in other parts as well
In Brazil, forced labour is found from charcoal burning projects to sugar care estates.
A tradition for generations, servitude was officially outlanded in 1980, but 400,000 black Africans save as slaves, formally or informally.
In Myanmar, thousands including children work on construction projects.
In Nepal, children and women carry bricks on their heads from the brick field to a truck they earn $0.25 for every 100 trips.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation The underground nature of the multi-billion dollar illegal industry, makes it difficult to gather reliable data, but NGOs in the field estimate that each year at least 1 million girls world wide are lured or forced into their form of labour. Boys are not left out either.
A part from sex – tourism, in which people from rich countries travel to locations like Brazil, Thailand, Goa in India in search of sex with children, thousands of young girls in numerous countries serve the sexual appetites of local people as well.
In the US, at least 100,000 children are believed to be involved.
Direct links between commercial sexual exploitation and other form of exploitative labour is clear. Nepalese carpet factories where 50% workers are children are common sites of sexual exploitation.
In addition to people to buy sex, there are traffickers, agents and intermediaries – professional criminals and syndicates who run portholes.
Beyond these direct actors, are deeply rested gender discriminations that blunt perceptions of violence.
Global market forces have also contributed, by widening the gap between the rich and the poor: - encouraging migration, destabilizing families, destroying support systems and safety nets.
Conflicts and was also create conditions in which children are sexually exploited.
Industrial and Plantation Work In the glass bangle industry in Firozabad, India one quarter of the workforce, around 50,000 children are under 14.
All over the world children work in hazardous conditions. This industries include leather working in the Naples (Italy) to pre industrial brick making of Columbia and Peru, which can involve children as young as eight.
Children are exploited in mining operations – e.g. diamond and gold mines of Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa, coal mines in Columbia.
Children have work with barest minimum of safety equipment. Respiratory problems are rampant – tuberculosis, bronchitis and asthma.
Children working in earthen ware and porcelain factories are unprotected from silica dust. In the lock industry they inhale noxious fumes. Similarly in the glassware industry.
The number of children exploited by plantation agriculture across the world are as great. E.g. Sugar plantations in Brazil, exposed to snake-bites, risking muitilation while working on the machinery, flower export farms in Colombia, young people are exposed to pesticides banned in industrialized countries.
In Africa children work on various plantations cocoa, coffee, tea and sisal
In Indonesia, children mostly girl work a tobacco plantations for $0.60 a day. Children are also employed in tea plantations of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, in sugar cane and rubber plantations of Thailand.
While much of this industrial and plantation work is carried out by national subcontractors. Some of it is overseen by transnational corporations whose products find their way into the stores and homes of the west.
Street Work
In contrast to child domestic work children also work in visible places – hawking in markets, and darting in and out of traffic jams, plying trade in buses and trains etc
The street is a cruel and hazardous workplace. They can be murdered by organised crime, by other young people or even by the police, as happened in Rio de Janerio in 1993 when police officers massacred six street children. A repeat from the slate juvenile court stated that, on average, three street children are killed every day in Rio.
Children working in the streets come very often from slums and squatter settlements.
Their numbers have increased in places experiencing armed conflicts, like Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Monrousia (Liberia), as care takes have been killed, economy disrupted and family and community lives severed.
On the streets, they shine shoes, wash and guard cars, carry luggage, hawk, beg etc. Some return home often to precarious, unhealthy and violent conditions. Many are led into the illicit and dangerous world of crime, their lives marked by aggression, abuse.
Rag picking is another pre occupation the nature of work unhygienic dangerous and demeaning. Consequences are many health problems ulcers, scabies, physical injuries; carrying heavy weight affects height, weight, strength and stamina.
Work for the Family
All of the work children do, the most common is agricultural or domestic work within their over families. This kind of work though sometimes beneficial is sometimes as exploitative. It may demand too much of children keep them from school and take too great a tell on their developing bodies, prevent them from excersing their rights and developing to their full potential.
In rural Africa and south Asia children begin well before school age. This includes an entire gamut fame work, looking after animal etc. similar work is done in Latin American countries as well. In rural Colombia, l in 4 children aged 6 to 9 and 1 in 3 aged 10 and 11 work, either in the home or helping in a small business.
Girls WorkMost of the hazards faced by boy labourers are faced by girls as well yet girls have extra problems of their own, from the sexual exploitation to exclusion from education.
According to ILO, 56% of the 10-14 yr old currently estimated to be making in the developing would are boys. Yet if one were able to measure the same of girls, the figures would be higher.
Girls also work longer hours on an average than boys. In Guatemala, working girls spend an average of 21 hours a week or household duties on top of a 40 hour working week outside.
All over the world, more girls than boys are denied their fundamental right to primary schooling.
Gender bias is enshrined in all the main institutions of society. This become a vicious circle.
The more schooling a girl has, the fever children she will have, as has been reported and again the more children a poor family has, the more child workers there will be
Ref: UNICEF Report 1997 – The State of World’s children SACCS
The vicious circle of child labour in India
Rachel Arora, merinews
01 March 2007, Thursday

The basic right of every human being is the Right to Happiness. But do the child labourers enjoy this basic right? No. While these children work in inhuman conditions, we live for ourselves and take delight in the agony of other people.

Child labour is one glaring issue that needs attention. It is one of the most persistent social issues that has gripped our nation since decades. We call ourselves responsible citizens but the honesty with which we need to tackle this issue seems to be missing. The government as on many other issues, makes promises but fails to deliver. The few initiatives that it tends to take are inadequate and insufficient to handle this problem.

Child labour is an issue of serious concern that requires fervent investigation. A general understanding of the problem indicating that children are being exploited and forced into labour has raised many questions concerning the government and the socio-economic status of our country. It has also raised alarming facts about the Welfare Organizations and their role in preventing the situation from getting any worse.

It is estimated that there are between 60 and 115 million working children in India as per the Human Rights Watch, 1996. UNICEF states figures ranging from75 to 90 million child labourers under the age of 14 years. This points to the fact that India has the largest number of child labourers anywhere in the world.

Child labour has been classified into nine categories under the 1981 Census of India: Cultivation, Agricultural Labour, Livestock, Forestry, Fishing, Plantation, Mining and Quarrying, Trade and Commerce, Transport, Storage and Communication and Other Services.

Another harsh fact reveals that most children in the manufacturing industry are bonded child labourers. Bonded Labour is the phenomenon of children working in conditions of slavery in order to pay off debt. There are almost one million bonded labours in India.

Shanti, 32, is a maid working in Delhi. She has 8 children and a drunkard husband to support. She lives in a slum in the Nizamuddin area and works in five households and has an earning of only Rs 1500 each month. She says that her children cannot go to school because she is unable to afford it. Moreover, she needs a few helping hands in the house. Two of her daughters aged 11 and 13 are working in local households to survive and support the family.

According to Malti, 26, it is essential for Birju, her 11-year-old son to work in order to keep the income flowing in. Birju, who works in a tea stall, barely gets a wage of Rs 250 per month.

Madhu Mehta, 47, is the wife of a rich businessman residing in Lajpat Nagar in New Delhi. She has a 10 year old ‘Chotu’ serving her and her family. He sweeps and swabs, does the dishes, the laundry, wakes up at five in the morning and goes to bed at 11:30 in the night. Madhu is defiant on being asked why she has appointed a child in her house. After much pestering she blurts out that Chotu’s parents were very poor and that they had no other option other than sending him to the city to work. They were lucky enough to have found him through a local broker who arranged for children like Chotu to work in rich households. Chotu works for a monthly wage of Rs 700.

Kailash and Mapia reside in a slum near Shahadra in Delhi. Back home, in Bengal they urgently needed money as Kailash had met with an accident. They had no other option but to sell the services of Chunni, their 9 year old daughter to the village Zamindaar.

Child labour is prevalent in one of its most heinous states in India. It is a source of income for poor families and the rights of the children go down the drain. A household in India that is subject to poverty essentially requires the services of children below the age group if 14 years. A child’s income contribution is between 34-37% of the total income generated in the household.

The lack of a sound Social Security Network combined with social evils like ignorance and poverty form the platform for child labour and its sister concern bonded child labour. This lays emphasis on the fact, as happened in the case of Kailash and Mapia that lack of bank loans, government loans and other credit sources increases the chances of more poor families succumbing to child bonded labour. The system operates in a detestable manner. When there is nowhere to go, people seek help from the local moneylender in exchange for their child’s services. Since the earnings of bonded child labourers are less than the interest applied on the loan, these children are forced to work as slaves while interest on their loans accumulates. The bonded child can only be released if his parents make a lump sum payment, which is not possible for the poor families.

According to the Indian Government Policy on Child Labour no child can be employed below the age of 14 years. The Bonded Labour Act of 1976 confirms the Indian Constitution’s directive of ending forced labour. The Act frees bonded labourers by the State. The Child Labour Act was implemented in the year 1986 and clearly stated that the minimum employment age was 15 years.

In August 1994, a development came about in the field of child welfare by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao who proposed to eliminate child labour thus relieving 2 million children from the treacherous oppression. The programme further pledged to motivate children to leave their work and enter non-formal schooling by offering an incentive of Rs100 and a meal a day on attending school.

Child labour is an agonizing reality in our nation. It is a gruesome as well as horrendous crime. But if we claim to be moral citizens we must collectively aid towards the eradication of this social evil. We are sleeping with our eyes wide open.

If someone appoints a Chotu in the neighborhood and we know it is wrong, what do we do about it? It’s high time for us to wake up. Children are vulnerable and innocent. We must raise our voice in unison for their cause. You are yourself a criminal if you support a crime.

Child labour needs to be brought to an end. The next time you speak rudely with the tiny chaiwala or criticize the work of Chotu, remember that you are committing an unforgivable crime.

women traffiking linked to poverty

`Women trafficking linked to poverty'
By Our Staff Reporter
NEW DELHI DEC. 11. In an attempt to highlight the dismal conditions of women being "traded as cattle'', a non-government organisation, Shakti Vahini, released a report on "Trafficking of Girls and Women into Coerced Marriage and Bonded Labour in Haryana and Punjab'', in the Capital on Wednesday.
The report aims to deal with the problem of trafficking and throws light on how the absence of a properly defined law is a handicap in protecting the rights of the victims.
Drawing a connection between the large-scale trafficking of women and girls in Haryana, Punjab and Delhi region with the widespread poverty in the "source'' region of Assam, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa, the Executive Director, Shakti Vahini, Ravi Kant, said: "Poverty, lower position of women and lack of opportunities remain the main reasons behind the victimisation in the source States, the disparity in the sex ratio in the demand States is equally important in fuelling the process of bridal importation.''
The result of year-long study by Shakti Vahini to assess the exact magnitude of the situation on the ground, the report tries to analyse the socio-cultural context of the problem. It also has case studies on the victims of this inhuman crime.
"The number of victims is difficult to judge from the fact that there is hardly a village in these States where one will not come across a few brides.
But the general estimates point to around 5,000 to 10,000 in Mewat and surrounding areas, 4,000 to 5,000 in Mansa and the surrounding districts and several times over in Doaba and other regions of Punjab.
Despite the rise in the number of cases in these areas, Haryana and Punjab were not even on the `Trafficking Map' until recently,'' lamented Mr. Kant.
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India's missing girlsDaughters aren't wanted in India. So many female foetuses are illegally aborted that baby boys now hugely outnumber baby girls, while a government minister has begged parents to abandon their children rather than kill them. What does this mean for the country's future, ask Raekha Prasad and Randeep Ramesh Wednesday February 28, 2007The Guardian A young girl looks on during a rally against female foeticide in New Delhi. Photograph: Gurinder Osan/AP
Bhavia is sleeping swaddled in a woolly peach cardigan amid the wailing and flailing limbs of 20 other babies. Nurses in lilac saris and face masks scoop the bundles from rockers and jig them under the wintry Delhi sun. Two days ago, the baby girl became the newest arrival at Palna, an orphanage in the capital's Civil Lines district. But Bhavia is not an orphan. She is what used to be known as "a foundling", abandoned by her mother in a local hospital.
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When Bhavia came to Palna she was nameless, with no date of birth. What is certain, from a cursory glance at the line of babies, is that an orphanage is one of the few places in India where males are outnumbered. For every boy lying in the sunny courtyard, there are four girls. Some have been dumped outside police stations, some in railway toilets, crowded fairgrounds, or the dark corners of bus stations. Others were left outside the orphanage in a wicker cradle, in a specially built alcove by a busy road. The weight of a child here will set off an alarm, alerting Palna's staff to a new arrival.
Almost always, it is girls who are left in the cradle. Healthy boys are only deserted in India if born to single mothers; boys left by a married couple are the disabled ones. Not all abandoned girls come from families too poor to feed them, however. Some have been found with a neatly packed bag containing a change of clothes, milk formula and disposable nappies.
Girls such as Bhavia are survivors in an India where it has never been more dangerous to be conceived female. A preference for boys, who carry on the family bloodline and inherit wealth, has always existed in Indian society. But what has made being a girl so risky now, is the lethal cocktail of new money mixed with medical technology that makes it possible to tell the sex of a baby while it is still in the womb.
Although gender-based abortion is illegal, parents are choosing to abort female foetuses in such large numbers that experts estimate India has lost 10 million girls in the past two decades. In the 12 years since selective abortion was outlawed, only one doctor has been convicted of carrying out the crime.
This hidden tragedy surfaces not only in the statistics of skewed sex ratios, but also in the back yards of clinics that hoped to bury the evidence. Earlier this month police arrested two people after the discovery of 400 pieces of bones believed to be of female foetuses in the town of Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh. Last September, the remains of dozens of babies were exhumed from a pit outside an abortion clinic in Punjab. According to investigators, that clinic was run by an untrained, unqualified retired soldier and his wife. To dispose of the evidence, acid was use to melt the flesh and then the bones were hammered to smithereens.
Last year, in a series of reports entitled Kokh Me Katl, or Murder in the Womb, two journalists working for India's Sahara Samay television channel found 100 doctors, in both private and government hospitals, who were prepared to perform illegal terminations of girl foetuses. In the grainy TV pictures, doctors from four states and 36 cities talked with chilling casualness about how to dump the remains. Many weren't bothered about the foetus's age, just that it was a girl that could be got rid off. The average cost of the procedure was a few thousand rupees (around £30).
In Agra, one doctor told the reporters to get rid of the dead foetus in the Yamuna river, which curves past the Taj Mahal. "That is not a problem. Take a rickshaw and throw it in the river," he said. In Dholpur, a town in Rajasthan, a female medic said the fields were pitted with the unmarked graves of unborn girls. She told the undercover couple that if their foetus was too big to easily be disposed of, they should pay a street sweeper to get rid of the body.
The latest estimate of India's sex ratio at birth (SRB) can be gleamed from a sample registration system that covers 1.3m households. For the two years up to 2004, India had just 882 girls per 1,000 boys. Only China is worse. Beijing's harsh, yet effective, family-planning policy limited urban couples to a single child -which was usually a boy. China's sex ratio stands at just 832:1,000. Sabu George, a Delhi-based researcher who has worked for two decades on female foeticide, describes the first few months in the womb as "the riskiest part of a woman's life cycle in India". The sex ratios in the country, he says, are getting worse "day by day". India, he says, now has 930,000 missing girls every year. "What we are talking about is a massive, hidden number of deaths."
Although ministers in India have woken up to "a national crisis", the response has been to condone the abandonment of female babies. "lf you don't want a girl, leave her to us," Renuka Chowdhury, India's minister of state for women and child development, said recently. The government "will bring up your children. Don't kill them". The announcement was a desperate response to stem India's dramatic deficit of women. In the west, women outnumber men by at least 3%. India has almost 8% more men than women. The question for India is what sort of future it faces without enough women. One dystopian answer, given by academics Valerie M Hudson and Andrea den Boer, is that a generation of men unable to find wives has already emerged. In their book, Bare Branches, they write of men who will never marry and have children. It is these men, they say, who are already largely responsible for social unrest in those areas where women are in short supply.
Indian scholars, they say, have noted a growing relationship between sex ratios and violent crime in Indian states. When potential wives are scarce, it is the least-skilled and educated men who are left on the shelf. Hudson and Den Boer put forward a scenario where large areas of India could be overrun by this under-class, with marauding groups of under-educated testosterone-high youths wreaking havoc. "It will mean a stronger masculine and macho culture," says Den Boer, co-author and lecturer in International Politics at the University of Kent. "Men do change their behaviour when they settle down. Those growing pools of men that don't are more likely to congregate to take part in stealing, gangs, bootlegging and terrorism."
In villages across the flat plains of north India, two decades of widespread female foeticide is already felt by thousands of families who cannot find brides for their sons. One local leader in the state of Haryana likened the lack of marriageable women to the shortage of grain in a famine.
It is an apt simile, given that the response to the catastrophe has seen women from poorer states being traded like a commodity by bride traffickers. As little as 10,000 rupees (£125) is paid to impoverished families in Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh for a daughter who will supposedly be found a job in a more prosperous part of India. The reality is that she will be sold into a forced marriage to a family in a richer state.
So significant has the lack of brides become in Punjab and Haryana that the issue has seeped into its politics, engulfing local elections. Candidates standing for office pledge that they will "help provide girls" if elected. Village leaders are accosted by unmarried men and asked to find them brides. Meanwhile, activists say that trafficked girls - who are often underage - are treated as bonded labour and sex slaves once married. The groups supporting trafficked brides are overwhelmed by the extent of the problem. "We're losing the battle," says Ravi Kant, executive director of Shakti Vahini, an organisation working on the ramifications of female foeticide. "It is in every village. The police are saying these families are doing nothing wrong. There's collusion between the law and the politicians, and it's destroying the whole social fabric."
India's paradox is that prosperity has not meant progress. Development has not erased traditional values: in fact, selective abortion has been accelerated in a globalising India. On the one hand there has been new money and an awareness of family planning - so family sizes get smaller. But wealthier - and better- educated - Indians still want sons. A recent survey revealed that female foeticide was highest among women with university degrees.
The demographic consequences of mass female foeticide are most pronounced in the most developed parts of India. In Delhi, one of the richest cities in India, there are just 827 girls per 1,000 boys being born. Not far away, in the wealthy farming belt of Kurukshetra, there are only 770.
At the heart of the matter lies the most sacred institution in Indian life: marriage. New money has raised the price of wedlock, a ritual still governed by the past. Not only do most Indians believe in arranged marriage, in which dowry payments are made; there is also a widespread acceptance of the inequality between bride-givers and bride-takers.
The bride's side, according to convention, is supposed to give but never take from the groom's family. In today's India that translates into an evermore expensive gift list of consumer goods. Decades ago, a wealthy bride's father would have been expected to give gold bracelets. Today it is jewellery, fridges, cars and foreign holidays - and the bride's family may end up paying the bill for the rest of their lives.
A son, by contrast, is an asset to his family. Even leaving aside the wealth his bride will bring, a boy will retain the family - and the caste - name. He will also inherit the property, and is seen as a way of securing parent-care in old age.
Indians, therefore, have come to view the girl child as a burden, an investment without return. A favourite Hindi saying translates as: "Having a girl is to plant a seed in someone else's garden." One of the results is that women themselves face immense family pressure to get rid of the girl in their womb. Feminists in India argue that criminalising women who have done so is to ignore how fiercely patriarchal the value system is. As some see it, a woman who participates in the killing of her own child is actually denying her own self-value and should not be punished but be treated with concern.
Some of India's traditional attitudes are changing, with women fighting to choose partners and different lifestyles. In some urban parts of the country, live-in relationships are tolerated. Parents accept boyfriends in a manner unthinkable even a decade ago. "There's no obvious sexual revolution, but things clearly are changing," says Mary E John, director for India's Centre for Women's Development Studies. But technology is spreading faster than such western values. Clinics spring up daily offering amniocentesis and ultrasound, scientific advances that are capable of predicting the sex of a foetus.
The trickle down of cash means that even lower middle-class families can afford a few thousands rupees on the technology. Before sex-selective abortion was outlawed in 1994, clinics would advertise terminating girls as "spend 3,000 now and save 300,000 later".
Multinational companies began to sense a huge market opportunity in the mid-90s in India. Every three years the market doubles, and sales of scanners are thought to be running at 10,000 a year.
First American, then Korean and now Chinese companies have pitched up to make and sell scanners. Some campaigners claim that the American giant General Electric's early arrival in the market indirectly led to millions of aborted girls.
Although there is a law forbidding sales of scanners to unregistered clinics and quack doctors, the campaigner Sabu George talks of a widespread "indifference of ethics". He says 16m illegal ultrasound scans have been conducted since India's law was introduced. "How many more millions of girls will have to disappear from India before companies such as GE will recognise their responsibility?" he adds.
General Electric counters that such accusations are like blaming car manufacturers for road accidents. "We support efforts to strengthen protection against sex determination and misuse of diagnostic equipment," the company says in a statement.
The diffusion of medical technology and India's traditions are not the only reason for the country's endangered daughters. India's medical profession, which works in one of the most privatised systems in the world, is certainly culpable. Some doctors, it seems, will do anything for a fee.
Many of those caught on camera in the Murder in the Womb operation were open about using high-quality ultrasound machines to determine the sex of the foetus. Under Indian law, however, doctors who use "sonography" are forbidden to tell mothers the sex of the child. The penalty is prison and a fine of up to 100,000 rupees (£1,200). They were also undeterred by performing late abortions - in some cases happily willing to terminate pregnancies months after India's 20-week limit.
Despite being caught red-handed and on tape, a year later just seven doctors have been suspended. Two dozen are under police investigation, but no charges have, so far, been brought. Many of the clinics continue to operate despite campaigners staging sit-ins in waiting rooms. The journalists have received death threats.
"Doctors are millionaires in India. They are politically and socially well-connected. Powerful people can slow and stop investigations," says Shripal Shaktawat, one of the reporters who conducted the exposé.
India's labyrinthine laws and its antiquated judicial system have also created mixed messages regarding abortion rights. The banning of selective abortion has led to many women thinking they no longer have a right to a legal abortion. Some feminists are concerned that the campaigns against female foeticide have inadvertently driven women to seek backstreet abortions.
No one has any quick-fix answers to deeply held and pervasive prejudices against women. The question for India is whether girls like Bhavia, that abandoned and unwanted bundle lying in a Delhi orphanage, will have choices that her own mother never did.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Minister: Juvenile courts to be set up in all districts
Minister: Juvenile courts to be set up in all districtsHT CorrespondentJabalpur, February 25, 2007WOMAN AND Child Development and Social Justice Minister Kusum Mahdele said on Saturday that the government would soon open juvenile courts in each district for speedy disposal of cases related to children. She said the number of juvenile courts in the State is insufficient at present and more courts are needed for disposal of cases.The minister said that Bal Bhawan, akin to Bhopal, would be opened in Jabalpur in April. She said it is planned to open Bal Bhawan at the divisional headquarters, where children would receive training in sports, music, arts and would also be taught science and other subjects.Mahdele told the media persons that the beneficiaries under the social security and old age pension schemes would get the amount by the fifth of every month. He said her department had issued instructions in this regard to the authorities.She disclosed that the government was contemplating a plan to reserve 50 per cent seats of supervisor cadre in Anganwadi for women.To a query about promoting Anganwadi workers on the post of supervisor, she said the government would fill up 50 per cent posts of supervisor through Anganwadi workers for which they will have to qualify the test conducted by the Professional Examination Board.Mahdele announced that 75 per cent amount for construction of hostel for working women and the students in the campus of Government Mankunwar Bai College here would be provided by the government.