August 22, 2008

Kids Thrust into Oblivion

By Dipannita Das

BANGALORE: Five teenagers, aged 11 to 18 years, left their hometown in a remote corner of Orissa to find a job and support their families.

A known neighbour convinced their parents that she would get them jobs in Goa. They would have ended up elsewhere had the police not stopped them at Bangalore railway station.

The woman who acted as the agent was identified by the police as a known trafficker and put behind bars. The girls were sent to the Crisis Intervention Centre of the department of women and child development. A case has been filed and it will take months for these girls to return home.

In another incident, 14-year-old Deepika (name changed) from Devanahalli was taken to Tamil Nadu by her neighbour, raped and kept captive for a month. The family filed a missing person case with Vijayanagar police station. Police traced and rescued her a month later, but by then her condition had worsened. She now suffers from severe depression, gets fits, hardly speaks and lacks interest to do anything. She is undergoing counselling from psychiatrists at Nimhans.

Minu (name changed) from West Bengal was sent by her family to work as a domestic help in Bangalore. She was made to do all the household work from 5 am to 11 pm and was also physically and mentally tortured for minor mistakes. Unable to bear it, she ran away and was rescued by BOSCO, an NGO working for children.

Like Deepika and Minu, several children and women are brought to the state and a majority of them end up as domestic helps, construction labourers, sales persons or workers in small industries.

Organizations working against human trafficking and commercial and sexual exploitation of women and children say there is a constant demand for cheap labour or domestic workers in the state, leading to an increase in child trafficking. A majority of them are from West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The agents provide the links between the employer and the employee.

Post-rescue care

Most cases come under the Juvenile Justice Act and are produced for hearing before the Child Welfare Committee. Children and women trafficked or sexually abused are rescued by NGOs and police and sent to centres run by the department of women and child development. Presently, around 36 such girls are sheltered at one such centre, the Crisis Intervention Centre (for girls between 11- 18 years). And nine in another group of 19 women rescued recently have turned out to be already psychiatric patients and are admitted to the Reception Centre (for women aged above 18 years), where they can stay for six months.

According to deputy director of women and child development H C Chidananda, it is difficult to rehabilitate girls as in many cases, parents of sexually abused girls refuse to take them back home.

The department has training courses like a beautician's course, spoken English classes, etc for these girls. Some have become traffic policewomen or sales girls in retail stores. The department also tries to get them married,

Chidananda said.

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