Friday, August 10, 2012
Many rescued yet dozens of minor traceless since 2010
James Khangenbam *
The rescue of trafficked children was worthwhile as the kids must be playing football in green fields by now with no health issue and caring parents.
I came across a 12 year old child rescued from Tamil Nadu and brought to RIMS Psychiatric ward by CWC (Child Welfare Committee) Bishenpur way back in 2010. He stood naked before the doctors who were observing his skin thicken with overgrown chicken pox. Symptoms of malnutrition were vivid. He had acquired the health issue over a period of time and had overcome several traumas. He met such hardship in a wonder land with no love at a tender age depriving the joyful innocence of a normal childhood. To me, he stood as a testimony of deprived happiness in the trafficked destiny where children had to sleep with empty stomach and itchy skins and wake up for another unhappy day.
At any given point of time, the vulnerability of tender age should not be ignored, was the feeling I came across in my mind the moment I saw some other trafficked girls and boys laying on the hospital bed at the psychiatric ward of RIMS Lamphelpat. Upon enquiry, the CWC officials said that they will be taken back home after treatment by child psychologists and is a part of the rehabilitation programme.
However to our utmost dismay, 74 minor girls (7 - 12 years) from Manipur and Assam are traceless till date and the miserable life they would be leading are beyond our imagination. Way back in 2010, the Police personnel and Child Welfare Committee while interviewing 76 children rescued from Bedesta Blessing Home came to know about the missing kids.
According to DIG Kanyakumari, a native of Manipur named Paul brought 150 children from Manipur and Assam to Chennai in 2007. Boys numbering 76, were taken to a place on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram and then to Kanyakumari by a person called Saji and the remaining 74 girls were taken to Bangalore. Investigating officers informed that the girls were shifted to Bangalore before the raid. Rather 24 girls were traced to a home in Bangalore and the accused trafficker Saji was taken into custody at that time. But so far there is no report of rescuing the trafficked girls (news source: 13th Feb. 2010 Imphal Free Press, Sangai Express, Poknapham).
Trafficking Table 2010 source various local and national newspapers:-
|Sl. No||Rescued children & time||Origins||Trafficked area & Rescue team||Remark|
|Manipur||Rescued from a house in Sholinganallur by CWC Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu,|
3 children were reportedly hidden in a cupboard
|1 girl was sexually assaulted.|
Police arrested 2 people from Manipur who brought the children to Chennai.
The arrested persons were identified as Rakesh and Herojit.
|Manipur & Assam||Rescued by CWC Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu.|
The children were kept in an unregistered Orphanage called Bedesta Blessing Home located at Kanyakumari.
53 from Manipur 23 from Assam.
|Arun Ram from Time of India reports that, "the rescue of 76 malnourished children, from Manipur and Assam, from a home at Kuzhithurai in Kanyakumari district this week is only the tip of a vast network, which receives crores of rupees from churches and agencies abroad by showing a large number of children under their care"|
Lamkang tribe of Chandel
|Rescued by combine team of CWC Tamil Nadu and CWC Manipur.||Rescued from Tamil Nadu|
|Manpur CCpur||Intercepted by Sekmai police while traveling in an inter-state bus heading for Guwahati.|
According to police 9 children held from CCpur & 1 from Mizoram.
|The 10 trafficked children have been handed over to the Child Line of Social Welfare department-Manipur, by Sekmai Police|
3 of them were girls
21 from Chandel district,
4 from CCpur
2 from Senapati
|Rescued and brought back to Imphal from Chennai.|
Tamil Nadu Government rescued the 27 children from different unregistered children Homes based in Chennai and Kanyakumari
|The children were between 9 to 15 years|
9 of them were girls.
|f)||1 + 3 kids|
|Imphal West & Imphal East||1 rescued from a hotel in Paona Bazar.|
3 rescued from ImphalAirport by Singjamei police
|g)||11 girls above 18 yrs|
|6 girls held from Nagaland while the rest from Mizoram||Goa police rescued them from a beauty parlour||The girls alleged that the owner tried to force them into the flesh trade|
A child undergoing trauma for a long period during childhood, the time when they absorb knowledge to their unpainted canvas like the water to dry cottons absorb hardness in life and becomes numb. The natural spontaneity of creative thoughts and ideas to a child were side-lined by sufferings which is unproductive but has choking effects and the desire for freedom with no means and might to a helpless child becomes the only hope.
Rehabilitation with proper education, nutrition and care was the immediate thoughts among many people and CBOs when the trafficked children were brought to the State. Stigma and discrimination the children and their parents might face from the locality or people known to them are another big issue. There was a commitment call from the CWC in proper rehabilitation of the rescued children.
Tamenglong CBOs and student bodies organised a grand reception of the 52 rescued Zeliangrong Sudents from Tamenglong along with their parents and announced that they will punish any person who help in trafficking children from the region (2010).
All Manipur Christian Organization (AMCO) and El Shaddai, an NGO conducted a consultation meet on child trafficking. One hundred pastors from across the State took part. President of AMCO Rev Prim Vaiphei expressed that some self-styled Church functionaries are involved in human trafficking cases.
Following reports of rescuing 76 children from Assam and Manipur, being rescued from "homes" run by missionaries in Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court in the first week of April ordered a probe into a possible trafficking racket involving tribal children. On September 1st the Supreme Court passed an order that imposes a ban on sending out children below the age of 12 years or those in primary schools to other states to pursue education.
The main factor behind parents sending off their ward to other state is for better education at free of cost as promised by the traffickers who are mostly missionaries. Arun Ram from Time of India reports that, "the rescue of 76 mal-nourished children, from Manipur and Assam, from a home at Kuzhithurai in Kanyakumari district this week is only the tip of a vast network, which receives crores of rupees from churches and agencies abroad by showing a large number of children under their care".
The Court also directed Ministry of DoNER looking after the development affairs of the north east region to assess requirement in terms of educational infrastructure such as construction of school buildings, hostels and children's homes in consultations with the states of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya and submit a report to the Ministry of Human Resources Development for support.
Some few organisations who have been working in prevention of trafficking in the north east region are GOLD, EKTA, SOS Children Village and Snehalaya of Guwahati. Impulse NGO Shillong, Public monitoring committee, Tamenglong district, Fenry Reamei, Tamenglong based NGO, and Coalition on Children's Right to Protection, Manipur, Child Line and other government agencies and local bodies of the North Eastern States.
North East Support Centre and Helpline together with Pratigya - Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative of Operation Mercy India Foundation and other human rights agencies dealing with human trafficking took up certain initiatives in their efforts in combat the menace.
The kind of work these private organisations and volunteers had contributed are putting alerts on movement of large number of children in the railway Stations, awareness campaigns on trafficking, and organisation like Guwahati based GOLD trains volunteers on how to identify the traffickers. Besides Indian Red Cross Society took up their own methods in combating child trafficking.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) did a commendable work in studying the ground realities of the trafficking cases and the Supreme court entrusted them for the same mission after which the verdict on imposition of banning children who are 12 years and below inpursuingstudy outside their respective States of North East India was passed.
The Commission also convene meetings of the North-Eastern States and the destination States in working out a coordination plan for State to State mechanisms. G Satyabati, Director of Social Welfare Department officially announced that Anganwadi workers will be roped in a door to door survey to identify trafficked children who are yet to be rescued in the year 2010 but so far there has been no reports from the same department nor Anganwadi workers are seen surveying houses for the same cause.
A reliable source says that there are still thousands of children from Manipur trapped in illegal homes operating in the Country. The source also disclosed that he has seen them with his own eyes.
"One girl who stayed together with us was called by the 'pastor' to his room every night and bolted the room from inside and we, boys were asked to massage the pastor's son named Beni and one Gita. The girl called by the pastor regularly had left the home earlier", Bungo narrated.
Although the kids gave indications of sexual harassment, officials of Social Welfare Department maintained that no sign of sexual abuse could be observed during medical examination.
"They did many things irritating to the body", said Bem who is about 13 years old - newspapers quoted.
Unscrupulous elements are taking advantage of under-privileged families by exploiting their children with the pretext of good was the remark made by Phillips Naoroibam Secretary of All Manipur Working Journalists Association in a consultation programme on Child Trafficking in Manipur 2010. In the follow up incidents remarkably Bishenpur Police arrested two persons allegedly involved in the trafficking of child and the charge-sheet for trial in the court was also submitted by the investigating officer.
In the aftermath of the rescue operations in 2010 the central home ministry opened up two units of anti-human trafficking units under police department as part of police modernisation process under the initiative of central governments'. The two units are functioning under two district police departments.
On Jul 11, 2012 Nagaland Post reported 'two girls were rescued from being trafficked to Singapore at Imphal Airport. Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of Manipur (AHTUM) police have rescued the two minor girls, aged around 16 years. Police also nabbed the accused identified as A. John Maheo (52) son of Ashuli of Kaibi village of Senapati district presently residing at Imphal's Dewlahland area.
Police sources detailed that AHTUM led by sub-inspector Y Kheda detected and detained the two girls at Imphal Airport when they were about to board a flight. During an enquiry, the team came to know that the two girls were taken to Dewlahand, before taking to Imphal Airport for onward transportation to Singapore.
Sources confirmed that Maheo through a Singapore based agency, Charisha Employment Agency, lured the girls on the pretext of providing jobs in Singapore. The girls would have been forced into immoral activities, the sources added.
For the protection of child Juvenile Justice Boards are being set up across the nine districts of Manipur in the last 2 years. Enactment of the Juvenile Justice Act is made. The Child Welfare Committees and boards are effectively dealing with the rehabilitation of children who had fallen victims to trafficking. Training on Juvenile Justice Act and Acts related with child trafficking and prevention for police officers of different ranks in collaboration with the social welfare department were held rigorously which remains effective.
Over and above State level anti-trafficking squad were formed under Social Welfare Department to combat the trafficking menace. But it is not known to the public as who comprised the squad and where they are operating now and the outcomes so far.
However grass root level awareness like imparting basic knowledge on trafficking to ignorant citizens in the far flung areas was missing like 'the trafficked kids. The main area of prevention was void in the programmes. The awareness level is not up to the mark in this area. The tributaries of flowing knowledge on trafficking have not reached the high hills and the plain ends. Knowledge on hazards of trafficking to curb it from a vulnerable state like Manipur should be imparted at the nearest time. Else the count by the profiting criminals as to how many child births took place in the State will go on.
The void resulted to new trafficking toll as evident from the recent report of pending rescue bid by State Machineries as the destine State failed to handle couple of trafficked children who are below 12 years of age' that appeared in local dailies few days back. The report also says that they were trafficked last year. The situation arises even after Supreme Court passes its extraordinary order of banning NE children 12 years and below in pursuing studies in other States for education in 2010.
President of All Manipur Christian Organization Rev Prim Vaiphei had already expressed that some self-styled Church functionaries are involved in human trafficking cases. The role of AMCO in spreading message on trafficking and its venomous aftermath to the vulnerable parents and guardians of the State would be effective. There could be PPP model of fighting the trafficking menace. Else rescue bid would be the only means other than the effective preventive measures of stopping the concerns in sending off the minor students from their care.
Meetings, seminars and knowledge sharing among intellectuals, lawyers, Child Rights organisations, NGOs etc. were witnessed in the last few years. But the same medium of empowerment and skill impartment is seldom heard of at the village and local authority levels. For the light of the law to shine candles need to be lit up however challenging the corners are to visualise.
AIR and DDK are two effective media machinery of Government which can impart time to time knowledge through talk show and other awareness products like ads to nook and corner of the State besides other media houses who had been active in reports about trafficking and related news. Comprehensive knowledge about trafficking and its consequences remains a big tool in preventing parents and guardians from handing over their wards to wrong hands.
Coming to women trafficking, the State along with her north eastern neighbours is still vulnerable.
DSP of Goa Police, Mohan Naik says "Just a few days before the beauty parlour incident, some girls from Manipur were rescued and repatriated" - newspapers quoted. 11 girls were rescued from a beauty parlour in Goa in Oct. 2010. The girls alleged that the owner tried to force them into flesh trade. 6 girls held from Nagaland while the rest from Mizoram. The girls from Mizoram have been repatriated a team of Nagaland police proceed to Goa in connection with the case.
Meghalaya has already held a high level Governmental talks on the measures needed to check frauds and cheats, who lure girls under false promises of providing them respectable jobs and then force them into the prostitution ring.
A total of 179 girls who were trafficked into Goa for commercial sexual exploitation were rescued in the state over the last three years reports Nagaland Post via news agencies ( 27 June 2012)
Out of them 146 were Indian girls followed by Nepal (27), Bangladesh (4) and Russia (2). From Indian states, 39 girls came from Mumbai. Others were Manipur (31), Goa (16), Andhra Pradesh (14), West Bengal (9), Nagaland (8), Karnataka (7), Maharashtra and Assam (both 5 each), Mizoram (4), Times of India report stated.
The revelation came from Anyay Rahit Zindagi (ARZ) Goa. ARZ is a nodal NGO working to curb human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation in Goa. Arun Pandey Director of ARZ said that no study has been done on the magnitude of trafficking despite Goa being a destination State for trafficked girls.
As a preventive measure an official team from Manipur including Satyabati, Director, Social Welfare Department, Ng, Nongyai former Human Rights member, and concerned officials stayed in Delhi during the Common Wealth Games in Delhi and paid visits to the work place of the girls from the State. They interacted with NGOs working for the welfare of the North Eastern girls, and students' organization of other states, civil society organizations, and government officials.
Another Kohima based social organization feels that the government should provide more job avenues such as the setting of Mahila IRB Battalion which has bought laurels to the State during their stint at the CW games. The organisation hinted that creating job avenues in the State will help in women falling victim to traffickers who lure them.
Rehabilitation of the trafficked adolescent girls who were forced into sex work remains tough as self-stigma is high. They are prone to suicidal tendencies says a psychologist. Often vulnerable to the epidemic HIV when they are forced into the odd profession. Psychosis a common psychological ailment remains a major haunt which need special treatment for total recovery was the comment from a Reknown Psychologist of Manipur when I interacted on the issue.
To be continued.....
(extracts of newspapers can be had from the writer)
Author is Imphal Correspondent of Kakching based IMAGE TV and can be contacted at jameslaphoi(at)gmail(dot)com
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