Thursday, May 17, 2012
Justice after Trafficking
Girl rescued from brothel returns from Bengal to depose before court DEVESH K. PANDEY Almost two years after being rescued from a red-light area of the Capital, where she was sold to a brothel owner by human traffickers, a minor girl has travelled all the way back from West Bengal to seek justice for the physical and mental torture she was subjected to. Unlike a large number of human trafficking victims, who after being rescued go missing, the girl has come back to depose before a city court as a witness, hoping to see the culprits behind bars. Vishakha (name changed) also plans to move a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court seeking directions for making mandatory the examination of all the victims like her through video-conferencing, so that they are not made to come in person from far off places to testify in court. “The victim will also approach the apex court for compensation to all victims of sex trafficking. As of now, there is no detailed guideline for compensation in such cases,” said her lawyer Ravi Kant. The girl who was kidnapped from South 24 Parganas is still living under the threat of being targeted by her kidnappers. “A few days ago, they pelted stones at my house late at night to scare us. My father then lodged a complaint with the local police seeking action against them. They have been regularly issuing threats to me and my family. We are constantly living in terror, because of which I seldom venture out and am unable to even resume my studies. In fact, we have put a photograph of the lady police inspector, who had rescued me, in our house to ward off the traffickers,” said Vishakha. It was in July 2010 that Vishakha was kidnapped by two acquaintances of one of her friends. “I went out along with my friend to a fair, where two young men joined us. We then went to her residence, where I was kept in confinement and the next day I was forced to board a Delhi-bound train at the Howrah railway station. They took me to the red-light area and handed me over to a woman, who tortured me physically when I refused to comply with her demands,” she alleged. The girl was then raped several times. Vishakha's plight only came to light after she narrated her woes to a client requesting him to contact her family. “He informed my parents regarding my whereabouts, following which they contacted the Kamla Market police station,” said the victim. Back home, her parents had already got an abduction case registered. “The area Station House Officer immediately formed a team and rescued the girl. The brothel owner and another female accused were subsequently arrested. While both the accused are now out on bail, the male accused still remains at large,” said a representative of non-government organisation Shakti Vahini, which was also involved in the operation. Recounting the harrowing experience, the girl said soon after being rescued from “hell”, she landed up at a shelter home where she was ill-treated by the staff. “A woman officer would scold me often without reason. Apparently they did not have enough plates, because of which three or four of us had to eat in the same plate. We were made to cook food ourselves; the rice provided to us was all rotten and there was not enough water for the inmates,” she alleged. “In most cases, after a brief stay at shelter homes, the victims are sent back to their family without any State support and they are left on their own to suffer. Most States have no rehabilitation and compensation scheme in place and many victims, a large number of them minors, who have suffered grave fundamental rights violations are left on their own,” said Mr. Kant. Incidentally, in reply to a question raised by Rajya Sabha MP Upendra Kushwaha, the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday informed that seven girls had been rescued from the red-light area of G.B. Road and eight persons arrested in 2010, 26 victims rescued and 16 arrested in 2011 and 15 girls rescued and four accused arrested so far this year.