Justice and Care Collaborates with UNODC to Develop SOP to Tackle Cross-Border Trafficking

Justice and Care provides communities and decision makers in the public sphere with recommendations and actions for resolving fundamental gaps and problems in areas relating to human trafficking. This means educating and equipping essential stakeholders such as the police and public prosecutors on the law, sharing best practices and working with the government at the highest level to create or amend laws that protect the most vulnerable.

As subject matter experts, we recently collaborated with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for South Asia, to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to help First Responders address cross-border human trafficking. This SOP serves as a ready reckoner to identify, rescue, and repatriate victims of cross-border trafficking at the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bangladesh borders.  

Developed between 2014 and 2017, the project recognised the urgent need for collaboration between key officials and all the other stakeholders involved in dealing with cross-border trafficking. By implementing and promoting these standards, it strengthens the response toward human trafficking by ensuring that the interests of the victims are always the first priority. Further, by improving the efficiency of all the First Responders, it smoothens procedures, reduces delays, and protects the victims of human trafficking - especially children.

To read more about the SOP and to download a copy for yourself, please click here.

IT Experts Gather to Discuss How Technology Can Be Used to Fight Trafficking

BENGALURU, 20 MARCH 2018:  Experts from cyber crime, law, technology and non-government organisations (NGOs) gathered for a day-long symposium at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-B) in Bengaluru to discuss the technological challenges facing the law enforcement agencies and NGOs in curbing trafficking. They also discussed ways to combat the problem and look for possible solutions.

“Websites, social media and chat rooms all are used by traffickers to groom their victims and sell them,” said Adrian Philips, spokesperson and legal head at Justice and Care, an anti-human trafficking organisation.

“Internet penetration into rural India also has its repercussions. Our case work of over 10 years shows that increasingly, these traffickers who are keeping pace with technology are exploiting it to trap young girls and expand their illegal businesses,” he said.

As part of a panel discussion to discuss solutions to tackle trafficking, visiting faculty at IIIT-B, Mohan Ram Chandrasekar, Chief Mission Integrator and Innovator - Forensic Intelligence Surveillance & Security Technologies/Centre for Cyber Security Education and Research said that, “A technology recommendation would be to set up a global repository of biometric voice identification of known traffickers to bring down crime in a concerted manner.”

Technology can and is being used to accelerate the reach and diversify modes of trafficking with increased challenges for prevention, investigation or prosecution. Therefore, the need is to understand its usage by criminal networks and to build capacity of society and institutions to also deploy technology as a solution to effectively combat trafficking. The immense problem of data darkness - where statistics do not reflect the actual number of cases is still a huge hurdle that needs to be overcome.

Pronab Mohanty, Deputy Director General, UIDAI, Regional Office South, Government of Karnataka who joined the panel discussion in an effective use of video conferencing said that, “Technology is used by the criminal circuit as a recruitment format to lure them in. This suggests that an amendment needs to be made to the IT Act to include the element of trafficking. The way forward would be dissemination of knowledge in this regard.”

In 2016, a total of 8,137 cases of human trafficking were reported from across the country, a jump of 18 percent over the 6,877 cases reported in 2015 as per data released recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The motive behind over 7,670 cases was sexual exploitation and prostitution, while 162 cases were for child pornography.

The ILO in its recent study estimates that a staggering 40.3 million people worldwide are enslaved through human trafficking, making an estimated $150bn in profit annually.

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra inaugurates Justice and Care’s International Conference on Human Trafficking

"Human trafficking greatest human tragedy," says CJI at conference co-hosted by Justice and Care, SAARCLAW and Indian Law Institute

NEW DELHI, 24 MARCH 2018: Inaugurating the international conference on human trafficking, co-hosted by Justice and Care, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Law (SAARC LAW) and Indian Law Institute in New Delhi on Saturday 24 March, the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra termed human trafficking as the “greatest human tragedy” and called for better use of technology to combat the syndicate involved.

“Human trafficking is the greatest human tragedy that has fallen up on us. It has to be avoided and the younger generation has to be the torchbearers against it. Human trafficking constitutes a great menace to the present and the future generation,” the CJI said.

The event shed light on legal and technological perspectives for solutions within South Asia and was attended by leading members of the Judiciaries of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, global legal and technology experts, NGO representatives,

Guests included Mr. K.K. Venugopal, Attorney General for India and Patron, SAARCLAW, Hon'ble Ms. Justice Gita Mittal, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Delhi, Hon'ble Ms. Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla, Justice, Supreme Court of Nepal, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Kalyan Shrestha, Former Chief Justice, Nepal and Patron, SAARCLAW and Mr. Mehmood Mandviwalla, President SAARCLAW.

Justice Mittal spoke about the need to distrupt the demand and supply chains of trafficking and get to the root of the black money that funds it. She said a law needs to be put in place to penalise customers was needed to curb the menace. “When customers of sex trafficking are criminalised, it drives down the demand. This hits the very root of trafficking operations,” she said.

In his keynote address, the Attorney General for India K.K. Venugopal, spoke about various statutes in the Indian legal system to curb the human trafficking. He said boundaries which exist today do not stand in the way so far as the members of SAARC are concerned. "We are hoping SAARCLAW acts as a catalyst in bringing together citizens of SAARC countries as we have a common heritage by culture and in some cases, language," he said.

Among other speakers, Nepal Supreme Court justice Sapana Malla, in her special address, said that technology has created the market for human trafficking and has made victims more vulnerable. “Technology has become a strong tool in the hands of perpetrators. It has made victims more vulnerable. The market it is creating is also exploiting victims and therefore we need to discuss on how to control and use technology to fight human trafficking,” noted Malla.

“The utilisation of innovation in human trafficking isn’t widely recorded. Notwithstanding, trial and narrative confirmation demonstrates that web and other computerised advancements are being utilised for the same,” Adrian Philips, spokesperson and legal head at Justice and Care said.

The event saw the presence of various SAARC country judges who spoke on the need for solutions to the technological challenges faced by the law enforcement agencies in curbing human trafficking.

Special sessions focused on sharing knowledge as well as exploring scope for innovations that need to be devised in order to use technology as an effective combat tool in tracing victims as well as detecting criminal networks, and current legislative frameworks and changes being initiated within country domains.

India’s Hon’ble President launches Justice and Care’s pathbreaking Foundation Course for survivors of human trafficking

President launches pre-skilling prog.jpg

8 March 2018 will go down as a red letter day not just for Justice and Care in its fight against human trafficking but also for countless survivors the organisation has rescued and cares for day after day.

In a special event hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on International Women’s Day, the Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind launched Justice and Care’s flagship Foundation Course, a specially designed programme that helps build the aptitude and abilities of survivors of trafficking to prepare them for skill training programmes.

Attending the exclusive event were 14 survivors of trafficking, special invitees, who shared their experiences and their journey of finding their lost confidence through pre-skill training they received through the course in the presence of the President, senior officials from government ministries and NGO leaders.

“It is amazing how these young girls have benefited from this foundation course. They have not just left their past behind but are also looking ahead towards a good future. One of our girls’ wants to become a lawyer, one wants to join the police. Their thought processes are such that whatever I have faced, let the other girls not (be subject to the same abuse),” said President Kovind.

The President also met the survivors separately to listen to their stories and learn about the course and its curriculum.

“The big challenge is that since these survivors come from very poor backgrounds, with little or no literacy, they are most vulnerable to go back to the same vicious circle of sextrade or child labour if they are not given proper means of livelihood,” said Joyita Ambett,CEO, Justice and Care.

“This Foundation Course, which provides them with basic skills like confidence building and social interaction acts as a stepping stone in their journey of financial empowerment, which helps break the vicious cycle,” Ambettadded.

Rupa*, a survivor of trafficking, present at the event said, “The Foundation Course was so useful that I want it to be provided to as many survivors across homes, so that more people can benefit.”

There is currently a lack of comprehensive pathways in National Skill Development Mission that enables inclusion of low literates or non-literates. The Foundation Course provides them with a foundation that helps them access the various skill training schemes under Skill India.Skill India was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 2015 with the aim to train over 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022. This population of survivors of human trafficking, which is almost 5 lakh annually, are looking at benefitting from this course.

Thank you for your partnership and support so that we can together be instrumental in creating safer and stronger communities, particularly for women and children, across India.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Mass awareness programme on trafficking reaches out to tens of thousands in Belagavi, Karnataka


On International Women's Day,Justice and Care in collaboration with Operation Red Alert and Women's Welfare Society, organised a massive walkathon in the city of Belagavi, Karnataka,to generate awareness about the crime of human trafficking. Two days before the walkathon, a 50 km cycle rally was also organised in the area, covering 10 high risk villages and reaching out to thousands of people around Belagavi.

The efforts revolve around taking action to stop the crime of human trafficking, slavery and other abuses by influencing the actions of individuals and tackling the underlying root causes in order to strengthen the community to be conscious, mindful and resilient.

While the key objective of the events was to create awareness and vigilance, outcomes also focused on mobilising the community by inspiring citizens to act against human trafficking - a crime that affects an estimated 40 million people worldwide - and contribute to its prevention. The event looked at promoting activities at the district, block and village levels to detect, prevent and work towards bringing an end to trafficking by uniting stakeholders from the police, judiciary, civil society and the media.


In a highly successful turnout, participants in the8 March walkathon exceeded an expected 2000 participants by a 1000 more. Organisations that included schools, colleges, Anganwadi workers, Asha workers and a number of government stakeholders gathered together to raise awareness about the crime and sensitise the public. The rally, which began from the Deputy Commissioner’s office compound passed from Kakatives, Ganpat Galli, Maruti Fallu, Sambhaji Circle and College Road before culminating at Sardar School ground.

Key outcomes of the events include a general public that is more aware about the crime and its consequences and equipped with information on recognising and reporting cases to the police.The event also ensured key stakeholders in the government help initiate quick action when cases are brought to their notice.

The Hon. District Judge Shri. Satish Singh, District Commissioner Shri. S. Ziyaullah IAS, DCP Smt. Seema Latkar IPS,  Superintendent of Police Shri. C.H. Sudeer Kumar Reddy IPS,DLSA Member Secretary and District Civil Judge Shri. Kiran Kini, the CWC Chairperson, anda number of Belagavi District Officials attended the events.

Since its inception, Justice and Care has trained thousands of individuals and vulnerable communities, sensitising them through awareness programmes conducted throughout India.

Justice and Care expresses its gratitude to its partners, Operation Red Alert and Women's Welfare Society, Belagavi for their support in ensuring the cycle rally and walkathon were a huge success.

UNDP and NSDC partner Justice and Care to host one-of-a-kind inter-ministerial dialogue on skill development

UNDP and NSDC partner_resized.jpg

Justice and Care together with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)recently hosted a one-of-a-kind inter-ministerial dialogue in New Delhi to discuss inclusion of victims of trafficking and the vulnerable in skill development and solutions that promise to combat human trafficking through the vision of SKILL INDIA.

This path-breaking event brought together leading stakeholders from Government ministries such as the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, leading skill agencies, corporates, skill development implementing agencies and NGOs working in the human trafficking space.

To address the issue of skill training, Justice and Care partnered with skill development organisations Don Bosco Tech and Rural Shores Skill Academy to create the Foundation Course, a bridge programme that prepares survivors with little or no formal education for technical domain training under Skill India.Working through hours of counselling and therapy, these girls have now found hope and fulfilment through the skills training they have received.

Sheela* was trafficked at the age of five. She was repeatedly exploited physically and made to work as a domestic servant. She had been living in terrible conditions, until she was rescued and placed in a shelter home for two years at the age of 10. Coupled with the growing frustration of her situation and the brutal trauma she encountered, Sheela began harming herself. It was during her lowest phase that she was introduced to the Foundation Course. “In spite of having absolutely no literacy level, Sheela started attending this course. Life skill lessons came as a ray of hope during tough times for her,” said Chitra Iyer - Director, Aftercare and Employment Creation at Justice and Care.

“This bridge course helped Sheela build self-esteem and gain lost confidence which led to increased learning outcomes. It gave her the courage to turn her life around and this has prepared her for technical domain training”, Iyer explains.During the course, Sheela picked up numeracy well and conversed in English with her trainers. She went on to access skill training programme in beauty and wellness and is currently working at an upscale salon.

Like Sheela, around 100 girls across India have undergone the pilot programme in the model Foundation Course. As a result, some of these are already undergoing skill training with an increased aspiration to be a part of the ecosystem of training and placement, and overall vision of Skill India.

Key outcomes of the dialogue included discussions on creating a framework to bridge gaps that exists within the anti human trafficking space and the skilling ecosystem, expressions of immense interest from employers to provide safe work spaces for workers who are survivors of trafficking, the openness of Sector Skill Councils (SSC) to review the foundation course and look at mapping critical learning outcomes and weave within technical domains, and an expression of interest from the NSDC that is keen on piloting projects of inclusion to understand the scope and scale that’s required for future implementation.

During the event, the UNDP also signed a letter of understanding with Justice and Care to facilitate and conceptualise models for economic rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking.

Inclusive skill development and quality education have the potential to significantly reduce human trafficking numbers, an industry that earns revenues of $150bn annually and is run by organised crime networks internationally.

*Name changed to protect identity.


Society needs to unite to eradicate human trafficking: President Kovind

NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday met survivors of human trafficking on the occasion of International Women's Day and said it was a crime against humanity and the society must unite for its eradication.
People should also be encouraged to urge the survivors of human trafficking into the mainstream of society and help them overcome their problems, Kovind said after meeting the survivors at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

"We need to create an appropriate eco-system for the survivors," he said.

"We are in that period of communication revolution in which social evils are discussed openly. People are discussing the social evils among themselves which is eventually leading to solutions of these problems," the president said.

But some problems were still not being discussed much and human trafficking was one of them, he said.

"It is a curse not only for the country but for the whole humanity," Kovind said, although human trafficking adversely affects both boys and girls but its impact is more frightening on minor girls.

It becomes really difficult for the girls to come out from the grasp of this social evil, he said.

The human traffickers especially target weaker sections who do not have resources to fight them, he said.

It may appear that only an individual or just a family was getting affected by human trafficking but in reality it affects everyone directly or indirectly, the president said.

There has been an increase of over 39 per cent in human trafficking in the last three years and more than four crore people have been affected by it around the globe, he said.

"But the irony is there is lack of awareness about human trafficking," he said, adding there was a need to give attention to this social evil.

"In such circumstances, I am happy to learn that the Union Cabinet has approved the trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 in which there is a provision for a jail term of up to 10 years for a person convicted for human trafficking," Kovind said.

Under the bill, it was provisioned to provide relief to victims within 60 days and establishing special courts at district level to handle human trafficking cases, he said.

A special fund will also be developed under this bill for running welfare programmes for the victims, Kovind said.

He exuded confidence that passing of this Bill will strengthen people and organisations working against human trafficking. 

The president hailed NGO 'Justice and Care', which has rehabilitated more than 4,500 human trafficking victims in the last 10 years, for its fight against this social evil.

He said four survivors of human trafficking, who have pledged to fight the social evil, may also be called as "champions of change" and all should work to increase the number of such champions.

He said many schemes of the Centre like Skill India, Start-up India, Stand-up India and Mudra would be helpful in rehabilitation and providing employment to the victims.

The survivors of human trafficking will be able to survive well only when an appropriate eco-system was developed for them, the president added.


President Meets Survivors of Human Trafficking, launches skill training programme.

President Launches Pre-Skilling Course for Trafficking Survivors

President Launches Pre-skilling Course for Survivors

Inter-ministerial dialogue held to discuss skilling of trafficking survivors

An inter-ministerial dialogue was held on 6th March 2018 to discuss ways of skilling trafficking victims for inclusive participation in the society and the economy. Jointly hosted by the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the anti-human trafficking organisation Justice and Care, the event focussed on addressing the challenges faced by survivors of trafficking and the help needed to reintegrate them and prevent such incidents. A bridge program that prepares survivors for technical domain training under Skill India has already been prepared by Justice and Care in collaboration with Don Bosco Tech and Rural Shores Academy

Speaking on the occasion, Rajesh Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said “there are over 40 million victims of human trafficking and at least 4-5 million fresh cases are being trafficked annually. Not just as a law enforcing agency but also as a welfare state it is important to save these victims.” 

“As government, it becomes our responsibility to create pathways for vulnerable populations with little or no education into mainstream. Skills is an important component for integration.”

“The bridge course, which prepares vulnerable populations to be skill trained for jobs prepared by Justice and Care is a welcome initiative. We hope that it finds space in the policy domain,” said Aastha Saxena Khatani, Joint Secretary, Woman and Child Development.

“It is not solely a responsibility but a need to get marginalized survivors a job and their rightful space in the society,” she said.

Sheela was trafficked at the age of five. She was repeated exploited physically and made to work as a domestic servant. She had been living in terrible conditions, until she was rescued and placed in a shelter home for two years at the age of 10.Coupled with the growing frustration of her situation and the brutal trauma she encountered, Sheela began harming herself.

It was during her lowest phase she was introduced to the Foundation Course. “In spite of having absolutely no literacy level, Sheela started attending this course. Life skill lessons came as a ray of hope during tough times for her,” said Chitra Iyer – Director, Employment Creation at Justice and Care.

“This bridge course helped Sheela build self-esteem and gain lost confidence which led to increased learning outcomes. It gave her the courage to turn her life around and this has prepared her for technical domain training,” Iyer explains.

During the course, Sheela picked up numeracy well and conversed in English with her trainers. She went on to access skill training program in beauty and wellness and is currently working at an upscale salon.

“What I learnt is to respect others, but for that I need to respect myself first. The training helped me find myself,” said Sheela.

Adrian Phillips spokesperson for Justice and Care said, “Through our case work we have realised that the survivors of trafficking emerge with little or no skills, while on the other hands, there are job-oriented programs offered, which require basic literacy, mathematical skills. There was the gap in the ability of a survivor to access the formal skill courses due to his or her lack of basic literacy. The Foundation Course is a solution, whereby survivors are trained to a level so they can start accessing skill training. However, this needs to scale up so that it can reach the most vulnerable communities and thereby serve not only as a re-integration strategy but play a crucial role in the prevention of trafficking itself.”

Jayant Krishna, ED & COO, NSDC commented, “The objective of this program is to empower these vulnerable women with skills training so that they can integrate in mainstream society. NSDC, through its various skill development programmes, aims to incorporate more inclusiveness to drive a change in the society.”

Clement Chauvet, Chief, Skills and Business Development, UNDP said, “We believe that the women can be the most important agents of change in the development process. Empowering vulnerable girls and women through education, skills trainings, and means to economic independence, enables them to build better futures for themselves and their families. This leads to breaking the cycle of poverty and creating circles of prosperity.”

Like Sheela, at least 200 more girls have undergone the pilot programme in the model Foundation Course. As a result, some of these are already undergoing skill training with an increased aspiration to be a part of the ecosystem of training and placement, and overall vision of Skill India.


Our experience tells us that traffickers target the most vulnerable people, in the poorest communities. At Justice and Care, we work tirelessly to raise awareness of the issue within these communities and help families become financially stable, understand their rights and make it safe for survivors to return home.

Last week, Justice and Care was invited to be a part of a one-day awareness and service camp organised for the survivors of Human Trafficking in eastern India, where there are many cases of child labour trafficking. Hosted by District Legal Service Authority (DSLA), the camp aimed to empower victims of trafficking and their families.

The day was a huge success with around 2000+ survivors participating with their family members. Among them 67 child survivors of trafficking who we’ve been supporting, all of whom were able to register for various schemes to secure more support for them and their families. The day also allowed Government staff to find out more about the issue.


A huge part of our work at Justice & Care focuses on addressing the vulnerability often prevalent within rural communities.

We not only aim to create a safe environment for survivors to return home to but also decrease their vulnerability long term, so that more children do not fall prey to traffickers in the future.

One of the ways we address this is through education. We ensure schools are functioning in rural areas and make sure there is motivation from the community for children to remain in education.

Just last week, one of our key partners, Target India Corporation, held its Annual International Giving Programme. As part of this, a sports day was organised for children from one of the schools in our local project area.

The children thoroughly enjoyed the day, taking part in a variety of activities, winning medals and even singing to the crowd. Lots of the children were given the opportunity to visit the city for the first time and one of our girls even bagged a 3rd prize in the chocolate pick and run!

The children got to take home goody bags filled with treats and stationary and all left with big smiles. We are so grateful to Target India Corporation for all their support and making sure children like Anshul* are able to enjoy their school days free from fear.

Use of Radio to Spread HT Awareness

CHENNAI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With human trafficking on the rise in India, some radio hosts are using their programs to raise awareness and help listeners spot traffickers.

In the Indian capital, New Delhi, radio host Ginnie Mahajan will talk trafficking on her award-winning show “Suno Na Dilli” (Listen Delhi) this weekend.

“We want Delhi to know that many of these girls working in their houses are reported missing by their parents,” she said.

“We need Delhi to know that girls are being forced into this trade.”

Human trafficking in India rose by almost 20 percent in 2016 against the previous year, Indian government data shows. More than 60 percent of the 23,117 victims rescued were children

Forty-five percent of victims were trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and 33 percent for sexual exploitation, according to the data.

“If we only checked details of the women around whom our lives and kitchens revolve we could actually stop the crime,” Mahajan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Delhi.

Radio has become an important tool in spreading awareness, campaigners say.

“It lets people know what is out there, the sheer horror of such a crime and how close to home it is,” said Adrian Phillips of anti-trafficking charity Justice and Care, which collaborates with radio stations.

While Mahajan’s show reaches urban Indians in the capital, a community radio station in the southern state of Karnataka recently went on air with a special program devoted to human trafficking.

Keerti S. Chougala, a host on Nammura Banuli (Our Village Radio), said she was aiming to educate her nearly 400,000 listeners on the impact of the crime, as well as how to spot traffickers and report cases.

“We wanted to tell women and girls in the region about this in a simple way and raise awareness,” Chougala said.

Run by charity Women’s Welfare Society, the show is broadcast across more than 400 villages in Belgavi district.

In November, a young trafficking survivor shared her story on Akaashwani radio in the eastern city of Kolkata.

An aspiring singer from Bangladesh, she told listeners how traffickers had promised her “starlit dreams” of becoming a singing sensation in India, and then trafficked her to a brothel.

Phillips said radio is ideal for sharing trafficking stories, because survivors can speak about their experiences anonymously, “without fearing repercussions from criminal networks.”

Radio also allows listeners to connect intimately with survivors, he added.

“It’s a real person speaking up and more importantly speaking out,” Phillips said.

Lured With a Happily-ever-after Dream, Rohingyas Sold in India

NUH: At 15, Raheema left her home in Rakhine state in Myanmar, crossed two international borders and was sold to be married to a man in India just a few years younger than her father. “He had asked the agent if I was married before. I was single so he bought me for 20,000 Indian rupees (about $300). Married women go for 15,000 rupees,” Raheema, who gave only her first name, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “He was only slightly younger than my father… He would beat me up with electrical wires and not let me leave, saying he had bought me,” said Raheema, who now lives in a settlement in northern India housing Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar.

Raheema’s husband let her leave last year after five years of abuse. She was five months pregnant with their second child. In a burgeoning refugee crisis, about 660,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar’s western Rakhine state across the border to Bangladesh since late August, when Rohingya militants attacked security posts and the army launched a counter-offensive. They join tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims already in Bangladesh, while pockets of Rohingya communities are dotted across South Asia, having escaped discrimination and persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said the new arrivals – the majority of them women and children – are at risk of human trafficking, as officials and aid workers struggle to cope with the influx. Cases of men and women enslaved in bonded labor or trafficked for marriage have also started to emerge in India after they managed to escape or were rescued and found their way to Rohingya settlements like the one in Nuh.

Rohingya started to migrate to India years ago and there are now close to 40,000 Rohingya Muslims living in the country. Raheema left her home in Myanmar, “surrounded by tall blades of grass and paddy fields” to join her father in a refugee camp in Bangladesh in 2012. “There was no food at home and my mother thought I would be better off if I joined my father,” said Raheema, now 22. “But my aunt at the camp sold me to the agent who told her he would get me married in India.” “I was numb to the idea of marriage. I just followed the agent and reached Kolkata. I didn’t know any Indian language, but I thought I will be safe,” she said in fluent Hindi, from her home in Nuh in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

Safety lessons
Bangladesh’s chaotic refugee camps are fertile territory for agents like the one who bought and sold Raheema. The promise of marriage is a typical way for traffickers operating in the camps to lure girls. “Marriage is big for young girls and parents are agreeing to it because they see better economic stability (for their daughters),” said Iffat Nawaz, spokeswoman for aid and development organization BRAC. In December, BRAC volunteers started visiting young girls at the refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar to give them information and support on how to stay safe among so many strangers. “Many of these girls have never been around so many men. They are meeting a lot of new people,” said Nawaz.

The girls are trained over 12 sessions on signs they need to look out for – inappropriate touching, offers of money or food and shelter, and ways to differentiate between genuine humanitarian workers and traffickers. “There are enough incidents of girls going missing…They are being trafficked to India and Nepal. We launched this program to reduce that risk,” Nawaz said.

Across the border in India, cases like Raheema are gradually emerging. Hasina Kharbhih, founder of anti-trafficking charity Impulse NGO Network that works in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, said the group was working on reuniting 15 Rohingya girls in India with their families. “These girls were trafficked and sold in India for sexual slavery or for marriage six to eight years ago. They are at government-run shelters now,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We have not succeeded in sending any of them back home as we are unable to trace their families in Myanmar.”

Kharbhih also received five cases in the last six months of families in Bangladeshi refugee camps looking for girls they say were trafficked to India. Campaigners say there are more cases of girls sold in India, but there are challenges in identifying them. “(It’s) because of the language issue – it is difficult to identify them as Rohingya or Bangladeshi as the language is very similar,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, an anti-human trafficking NGO. About 17,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers are registered with UN refugee agency UNHCR in India and many, like Raheema, use the UNHCR’s letter acknowledging their application for a refugee card as proof of identity.

Officials at UNHCR, however, said neither they nor their partner organizations had recorded cases similar to Raheema’s. “Based on information available with UNHCR, there is no record of a pattern of trafficking for marriages in the Rohingya refugee community in India,” said UNHCR’s Ipshita Sengupta by email. Raheema now lives with her two children in a slum in Nuh, in a hut made of tin and cardboard with plastic sheeting for a roof. She shows the small space she has created for a clay stove to cook food. She is in touch with her mother, who is still in Myanmar. “I work as a maid servant here and earn 1,200 rupees,” she said. “But who will feed me if I go back to my mother?”- Reuters

India's Human Trafficking Data Masks Reality of the Crime: Campaigners

CHENNAI/NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - New data released by the Indian government shows reports of human trafficking rose by almost 20 percent in 2016 against the previous year, but campaigners said on Monday the figures failed to reflect the true magnitude of the crime.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) said there were 8,132 human trafficking cases last year against 6,877 in 2015, with the highest number of cases reported in the eastern state of West Bengal, followed by Rajasthan in the west.

Activists attributed the rise in to greater public awareness and increased police training, resulting in better enforcement of anti-human trafficking laws.

The figures, however, remained a gross under-estimate as many cases went unreported, they said, with many people still unaware of the crime or lacking confidence to seek police help.

“The trend the data is reflecting is pretty accurate. Trafficking is on the increase and that should be a cause of concern for all stakeholders,” said Anita Kanaiya from The Freedom Project, an anti-slavery charity.

“But the numbers themselves are far from ground reality. The number of trafficking cases will be many times more than what the data in the (NCRB) report states.”

About 40 million people were living as modern slaves last year - either trapped in forced labor or forced marriages - says the United Nations International Labour Organization and rights group Walk Free Foundation.

South Asia, with India at its center, is one of the fastest-growing regions for human trafficking in the world.

Many victims are from poor rural areas and lured by traffickers with promises of good jobs, only to find themselves or their children forced to work in fields or brick kilns, enslaved in homes as domestic workers, or sold to brothels.

The NCRB data released on Nov. 30 showed just over 60 percent of the 23,117 victims rescued were children. Women and girls accounted for 55 percent. ncrb.nic.in/

Forty-five percent of victims were trafficked for the purposes of forced labor, and 33 percent for sexual exploitation such as prostitution and child pornography.

Victims were also trafficked for domestic servitude, forced marriage, begging, drug peddling and the removal of their organs, the NCRB figures showed.

Anti-trafficking campaigners said the data reinforced their own findings that young girls were most at risk, especially from sexual slavery.

“From our case work which spans nearly a decade, we have seen that minor girls, particularly in the age bracket of 15-18 years are almost always trafficked in high numbers,” said Adrian Phillips, an advocate from the charity Justice and Care.

“They are young and hence are in greater ‘demand’ in the sex trade industry,” he added.

Campaigners say although the government response to human trafficking has improved in recent years, justice and support still eludes many victims, especially children.

The government has introduced an online platform to find missing children, signed bilateral anti-human trafficking pacts with nations such as Bangladesh and Bahrain and authorities are now working with charities to train law enforcement officers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government also plans to unveil India’s first comprehensive law on human trafficking, which will unify existing laws, prioritize survivors’ needs and provide for special courts to expedite cases.

NCRB- More Girls Missing Than Boys

Suggesting rampant trafficking, the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows that minor girls are twice as likely to go missing than minor boys. According to the NCRB report for 2016, 60 per cent of the total missing people were females — about 24 per cent of these were girls (below 18 years), while 74 per cent were in the 18-60 years age group.

This is the first time that NCRB has collated data on missing people across the country.

While a total of 22,340 minor boys (below 18 years) went missing in 2016, the corresponding figure for girls was almost double at 41,067. In the 18-60 years age group, 84,852 men and 1,28,944 women went missing.

According to the data, 19 per cent of the total missing males were minor boys, and 60 per cent were in the 18-60 years age group.

In overall data, however, under-18 boys account for 7.7 per cent of the total missing people, while under-18 girls add up to 14.1 per cent. Women between 18-60 years of age account for 44.4 per cent of all missing, while men in that age group add up to 29.9 per cent.

But in the case of senior citizens, more men (9,266) went missing than women (4,010).

According to the NCRB data, a total of 2.90 lakh people went missing in 2016. Of these, about 1.74 lakh were females.

The pattern points to trafficking of women and girls. A total of 5,087 cases of human trafficking and prostitution involving 7,561 women and girls were registered, according to the NCRB.

“The math is very simple. From our case work of nearly a decade, we have found that mostly minor girls, particularly in the age bracket of 15-18 years, are trafficked in high numbers,” said Adrian Phillips, advocate and spokesperson, Justice and Care, an anti-trafficking NGO with a pan-India presence.

According to the data, in the beginning of 2016, the number of missing people from the previous years stood at 2,58,569. With another 2,90,439 reported missing in 2016, the total figure stood at 5,49,008 (2,34,334 males and 3,14,674 females). The authorities, however, managed to trace 2,29,381 missing people through the year.

Maharashtra reported the maximum missing cases (94,919, including 49,338 females), followed by West Bengal (85,855, including 53,654 females) and Madhya Pradesh (59,660, including 39,375 females).

Similarly, a total of 1,11,569 children (pending cases from previous years and new cases in 2016) were reported missing, of which 41,175 were boys and 70,394 girls. West Bengal topped the list (16,881 children; 4,595 boys, 12,286 girls), followed by Delhi (14,661 children; 6,125 boys, 8,536 girls), and Madhya Pradesh (12,068 children; 3,446 boys and 8,622 girls.

Of the total missing children, 55,944 (20,364 boys and 35,580 girls) were traced.

Manodhairya Scheme Recommendations

The state women and child development (WCD) department is likely to make changes to a government resolution pertaining to Manodhairya, the state’s compensation scheme for victims of sexual abuse and acid attack, following recommendations received from various NGOs. A committee appointed by the Bombay High Court to look into the shortcomings of the GR issued on August 1 met representatives of NGOs and government officials over a week ago. Various NGOs had raised objections to the GR. Based on their suggestions and directions of the committee, the WCD is likely to make changes to the GR, according to officials.

Among the recommendations made before the committee were compensation for victims of trafficking, revamp of district trauma teams and covering male victims under the scheme. Currently, while victims of rape, child victims of sexual abuse and acid attack victims are covered under the Manodhairya scheme, women rescued from prostitution are not included.

“One of the suggestions made was to include victims of trafficking as part of the scheme. Other suggestions were relating to rape victims. Under the modified scheme the amount paid to a victim who dies due to sexual assault or rape is only Rs 1 lakh, while for a victim who suffers grievous injury or mental trauma or is gang-raped is Rs 10 lakh. This should not be the case. All rape victims should be covered under the scheme,” said senior advocate Mihir Desai, who is appearing for one of the petitioners, Forum Against Oppression of Women.

Anti-human trafficking NGO Justice and Care has recommended that one particular area that needs to be addressed is children subjected to rape or otherwise sexually abused daily after being trafficked. “The Manodhairya scheme uses the word ‘child’ for compensation in POCSO cases, while not discriminating against boys. However, the challenge lies in securing compensation for sexually exploited male children and hence there is need for it to be specially mentioned that the scheme applies to all children irrespective of gender,” said Adrian Phillips, legal counsel and spokesperson, Justice and Care.

Majlis Manch, through its director and advocate Flavia Agnes, who had filed a PIL before the HC on the GR, also submitted suggestions that include not barring the victim from claiming compensation under any other scheme of the state or Union government, as is the case at present. Agnes has also suggested providing additional support measures in certain cases such as in the case of a victim who decides to raise a child out of an incident. In such cases, suggested Majlis, the government could extend proper rehabilitation and other support to the mother and the child.

“Among the collective recommendations was a unanimous demand that district trauma teams have to be activated. It was said that the teams are invisible and they have to be strengthened. Aspects like counselling, which are ignored, need to be looked at,” said an NGO member, part of the collective that gave its recommendations. The new GR was silent on the teams that were part of the earlier GR. These were meant to be teams appointed in every district to provide immediate assistance to victis and included police officials, medical officers, psychiatrists and nurses at district, taluka and village levels.

The new GR had also done away with the district-level committee that recommended compensation to the victims, transferring the role to the District Legal Services Authority. “It was suggested that the district committee should have non-official members like representatives from women’s organisations. We also suggested that all rescued minors be treated as rape victims and in case of adult women rescued, legal assistance be provided to register case of rape against the accused if she wishes,” said Dr Vijay Raghavan, faculty of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Besides this, NGOs sought to do away with the present system followed for payment of the compensation. At present, 75 per cent of the monetary compensation awarded has to be kept in a fixed deposit for a period of ten years and the remaining 25 per cent is given to the victim. In case the victim is a minor, the modified scheme states that the amount will be kept in fixed deposit for 20 years.

“A series of meetings under the guidance of the honourable judges are going on. The procedure is on whereby we are hearing each and every suggestion made by NGOs or members of the civil society,” said Vinita Singhal, Secretary, WCD. Based on these suggestions and the HC direction, she added, appropriate steps would be taken to make changes in the GR. The advocate general, meanwhile, said the state government would actively consider the recommendations.

SC Verdict on Criminalising Married Minor Intercourse

Experts termed the Supreme Court's judgment that criminalises sex with a minor wife as landmark, but said it has left a few questions unanswered.

For instance, while it is now illegal for a man to have sex with his wife if she's in the age group of 15 to 18, the marriage itself can continue. Child marriage is illegal but widely prevalent in India because of poverty, weak law enforcement and patriarchal norms.

"How will one ensure that the man is not having intercourse with his wife? And if he continues to do so and impregnates her, how does that play out? Will the medical officer send her back, or will they terminate the pregnancy? All these questions remain unanswered," says Enakshi Ganguly of Haq.

Haq along with other NGOs working for child rights has held a consultation with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on child marriage in April. The inconsistency among laws framed against rape, child abuse and underage marriage was one of the contentions of NGOs.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) says sex with a girl who is below 18 is rape, but Exception 2 allowed a man to have sex with his wife aged between 15 and 18 even without her consent. The court struck down this exception on Wednesday. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012, also considers sex with children — defined as below 18 — as rape. Exception 2 was also contrary to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, that puts 18 as the age of marriage for girls and 21 for boys.

Prabhat Kumar of the Save The Children, also part of the consultation, said that the judgement is welcome. However, it has not clearly stated whether the child bride needs to complain on her own or a relative can do so, too. "There are some complexities in the judgement regarding mandatory reporting of these cases," said Kumar.

An official from the NCPCR, who did not wish to be named, said that it is unlikely that parents will come forward to lodge complaints under these cases, because in most cases, they themselves marry off children.

And in cases where children marry on their own, the judgement will prove to be a huge detriment. Ganguly says that a sizeable chunk of child marriages cases arises out of parents lodging complaints against runaway teenagers. And the judgment makes it easy for runaway children to be put behind bars, for up to seven years.

Yet, as the order has recognised marital rape in the instance of married women in the age group of 15 to 18, it led to speculation that this could be the precursor to the recognition of marital rape. SC counsel Indira Jaising, however, felt that it was not so.

"The court has dealt only with the cases of marital rape in child marriages. The matter of marital rape in the cases of adult women, however, will have to be separately argued," said Jaising, adding that the age of consent is a larger issue at hand.

Adrian Phillips of anti-human trafficking organisation Justice and Care, part of the drafting committee of the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016, said that the judgement will deter traffickers who lure young girls with the promise of marriage. "For the longest time human traffickers have been using marriage with minors as an alibi to rape young girls in the first instance before selling them to pimps and brothel owners. This judgement will be a huge deterrent for traffickers," said Phillips.





“I had lost all hope of ever going back home.”

Would you believe that these are the feet of a 14-year-old boy? This boy worked at a wire mesh factory for up to 20 hours a day, in hazardous conditions. Justice and Care and the police were able to rescue 68 children and have 24 people arrested for trafficking children and using them for labour. Of these, 40 children were trafficked from a completely different state in Eastern Indian over a distance of 1100 kilometres and put to work in several wire mesh factories in North India.

Children as young as eight-years-old were found working as child labourers in shocking conditions in the factories without food and water. The children were taken to a neutral safe zone after their rescue, where initial legal proceedings were carried out in the presence of representatives from the Child Welfare Committee, labour officers, doctors and the police. The different teams at Justice and Care have completed the task of tracing the families of the children and restoring most of them to their families. In addition to this, long-term aftercare plans are being developed for them and our legal teams are assisting the state in the prosecution of the criminal networks involved in trafficking and enslaving the children.

BSF Symposium on Study on Cross Border Child Trafficking and Impact

Seasonal employment, child marriage and school drop out rate are among the reasons making women and girls vulnerable to trafficking on the Indo-Bangladesh border, according to a study.

The study 'Adolescence at the Border' by anti-human trafficking NGO Justice and Care in association with Border Security Force (BSF) said human trafficking is a highly organised crime operating within source and destination areas.

It said effective collaboration of security agencies like BSF and state police with NGOs is the need of the hour and this needs to be nurtured for best results.

"Seasonal employment, child marriage, school drop out rate, crimes against children such as abuse and eve teasing were found to be extremely high in these villages. These are all factors that contribute to making women and girls vulnerable to trafficking and other violent crimes," the study said.

The study was conducted in eight villages around two check-posts at the Indo-Bangladesh border in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. In these villages, 639 adolescent girls were chosen for interviews.

It said one of the recurrent themes that came during the study was the perception of inadequate security for women and fear of outsiders. Though most of them felt safe within the family, it said, they feared to be a victim of crime.

The study recommended adoption of non-traditional security approaches to border management with increased focus on human security and human rights. It has to be victim-centric and child-friendly spaces at border outposts.

Commenting on the study, BSF Director General K K Sharma said the unique aspect of the study is the fact that it incorporates critical views of individuals vulnerable to trafficking along the border as well as the efforts made by the BSF in dealing with the issue of cross-border trafficking.

"While systems around human rights responses to illegal migrants had been advocated, more focus was required around victims of trafficking and arrests of their touts through correct detection," said lawyer Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care.

Ghaziabad Rescue- 68 Kids Rescued

GHAZIABAD: The district administration has rescued 68 children from various factories in Ghaziabad on W

The kids included both boys and girls, mostly below the age of 14. The factories which employed them were manufacturing steel wire mesh.

The district administration was assisted in the raid by officials of labour department and police. A local NGO also assisted the officials in the raids.

"Some kids were working in these factories along with their parents. Several others had been transported from rural areas in various parts of the country to work as child labourers," Loni sub-divisional magistrate Atul Kumar told TOI.

The kids were sent for medical examinations from the factories to a government hospital. Following this, the officials took the kids to Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of the district. The CWC ordered overnight custody of the kids in three different shelter homes of Ghaziabad.

Officials said another round of medical examination will be conducted on the kids on Thursday. The future course of action will be taken in accordance with the directions of the CWC.


South India's First Children's Court Inaugurated In Hyderabad

HYDERABAD:  Giving a push to fast disposal of cases related to children, south India's first Children's Court was inaugurated in Hyderabad today.

After Goa and Delhi, Telangana has become the third state to have a child friendly court and sixth in the country with features like separate waiting rooms for children and a video camera trial for the accused, mandated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act-2012.

The 'child friendly' courtroom was jointly inaugurated at the Nampally Criminal Courts Complex in Hyderabad by Acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan of High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad and Director General of Telangana Police Anurag Sharma.

POCSO stipulates child-friendly court rooms be put in place across all states at the earliest in the interest of children in need of care. However, such courts are currently functional only in two states - Delhi and Goa.

"This is for the first time in South India and the sixth court in the country to be child friendly," Metropolitan Sessions Judge T Rajani said, adding, at present, there are over 1640 cases under POCSO Act that were pending at various stages in different district courts of Telangana till 2015.

T Rajani also said since the court will not handle any other cases other than those relating to children, the volume of casework will be much less, enabling quicker disposal of cases.

"The child (witness/victim) will be allowed direct interaction with the judge, while the accused (who will be at a different location) will be able to view and hear the proceedings via two-way video conferencing in the courtroom," the judge said.

A two-way video communication system, allows the child witness to identify the accused on camera. This also enables the judge to ask questions to the child and the accused without any physical interface.

The judge and the police personnel will be in plain clothes in the children's court and unlike a normal court set-up, the child will not be allowed to come face to face with the alleged offenders to make sure he/she is not intimidated while the court proceedings are on. Thus, providing a non-threatening atmosphere, the DGP said.

"With increasing crimes against children, there is a dire need for systemic reforms in strengthening the evidence gathering process. The child-friendly space for recording the witness and testimony of the child will aid in improving the conviction rates for the crimes against children," Mr Sharma said.

The Nampally project was facilitated by NGO Justice and Care in collaboration with the state government and the judiciary.