Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Irish 'buy' Indian children to save them from brothels

Babies and young girls kept in cages and sold to highest bidder

JUSTICE FIGHT: At the launch of 'Taken' were Danny Smith, founder of the Jubilee Campaign, Hazel Thompson, author of 'Taken', and Marc Carey, holding a picture of one of the victims


IRISH business people are "buying" babies and young girls in order to rescue them from brothels in an infamous Indian red-light district where they are kept in cages and auctioned off for sex to the highest bidder, the Sunday Independent has learnt.


A young Irishman, Marc Carey, is fighting to release the children, some as young as nine months old, from the cages in which they are imprisoned for years while pimped for sex.

The harrowing story from 14th Street in Mumbai's red-light district Kamathipura – and Ireland's reaction to it – has come to light as the world marks Anti-Slavery Day this weekend.

Mr Carey, 30, said the images of children imprisoned in the "dark, cruel and inhumane" conditions have to be seen to understand the true horror of their situation.

The former Griffith College student, who addressed the British House of Commons last week, has been working with the Jubilee Campaign and the Bombay Teen Challenge to help rescue victims and set up a safe houses for the rescued children, where they are given a second chance at life.

A number of wealthy Irish people have spent large sums of money to free the children from sex slavery. One business generously donated €20,000.

Mr Carey told the Sunday Independent: "Babies only a few months old, right up to young girls aged 11 and older, are kept in tiny dark cages for years on end. The cages are locked from the outside and manned by armed gangsters.

"You have to go down man holes and secret trap doors to get to them. Their spirit is broken and they are sold for sex for as little as €5. Virgins are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

"They are taken from families at such a young age that they can't even talk, they have no education, and they don't know the meaning of the word 'escape'. When they are older they are let out to work because the pimps know they have no means of existing on their own.

"They have children who are reared in the brothels too. The mothers are raped while the children lie beside them on the floor, or hide under the bed. Suicide and HIV is a big problem there."

Photojournalist Hazel Thompson has produced an ebook, Taken, about the scandal. Mr Carey became aware of the children's plight through his job as European marketing director for the Hard Rock Cafe. "I was tasked with picking a charity for us to support but when I came across these underground brothels, I couldn't get my mind off it.

"I'll be returning to Mumbai in February to do more work and stay for a longer period of time helping to set up houses and schools for victims and, hopefully, I will have more funds with me this time.

"To see the difference in the children once they have been rescued is incredible. But at the same time you know what they have been through, the things they have seen. A friend put together a project called 'Frame the Future' recently where she asked the children what they would like to be when they are older and then dressed them accordingly for the photograph. She had doctors, pilots, business people. Despite where they have come from, their hopes for the future are bright.

"Gandhi famously said, 'You must become the change you wish to see in the world'. How many of us are passionate or courageous enough to really follow this through? The scale of human trafficking and sex slavery that takes place in India is so daunting that it is tempting to ignore the issue."

The Dubliner urged the public to become "digital activists" to help combat human trafficking.

"It's easy to look away, but don't let something as trivial as geography in today's world be an obstacle for you. The use of the internet now means we can all be digital activists. Whether it is simply sending a tweet, signing an online petition or buying the ebook set up to support our new campaign, it all helps."

For more info or to donate go to


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Child marriages: parents bow to social pressure, finds survey


Survey says almost one-third of parents of girls who are likely to be married before 18 don’t think there are any negative consequences


Breakthrough, a human rights organization, launched a ‘Nation Against Early Marriage’ campaign on Monday in New Delhi.

New Delhi: India’s failure to co-sponsor the first United Nations Human Rights Council resolution recognizing child marriage as a human rights violation and adding its elimination to the UN’s post-2015 global development agenda has put the spotlight on the country’s poor record in curbing child marriage.

While India did sign the resolution and supported its intentions, it stopped short of co-sponsoring along with fellow South Asian countries Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“It’s not that the government doesn’t have an understanding of the issues, but they co-sponsor very few of these (resolutions),” said Sonali Khan, vice-president of Breakthrough, an organization that launched a “Nation Against Early Marriage”, campaign on Monday in New Delhi.

Activists claimed the government’s reluctance was based on the uncomfortable reality of widespread child marriages in India. Forty per cent (24 million) of global child marriages take place in India despite the fact that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, enacted in 2006, makes it illegal for a girl under the age of 18 to marry. The minimum age for males is 21.


The Breakthrough campaign includes a survey of 3,360 households in three districts of Jharkhand and Bihar. It found that while parents understand the negative effects of child marriage (88.43% cite ill-health and 76.56% a disruption to education as possible results), they stick to the practice out of social pressure and tradition.

Almost one-third of parents of girls who are likely to be married before 18 don’t think there are any negative consequences, the survey, conducted over three months in 2012, found.


The campaign focuses on the connection between early marriage and other dangerous social indicators such as health, malnutrition, poor education, domestic violence, depression and freedom of mobility. As well as an advertisement fronted by actor Irrfan Khan, which will air on Doordarshan, and a community action campaign in schools across Jharkhand and Bihar, the organization wants to build one of the first detailed bodies of data and research on child marriage in India.

“Our challenge is to produce a body of evidence on this, and it has been very tough,” Khan of Breakthrough said. “We want to know can (this programme) be scaled, can it be sustained, can it be replicated? We are so tired of working in little pockets, what we are offering to policymakers with this is to show the potential for scale. Unless we link macro to micro, we cannot achieve it.”

According to National Family Health Survey 3, 47.3% of women aged 20-24 in India were married by age 18. In Jharkhand, the number is higher—an estimated 55.7%— and in Bihar, as much as 68.2%. Sunitha Menon of Breakthrough says the baseline survey conducted for their campaign suggests parents are well aware of the law, but are swayed by societal prejudice and tradition.

“The community is putting the onus of honour on these girls,” she said. “They think the best thing is just to marry her off, to pass the burden on to someone else. We need to educate the fathers and brothers about their responsibilities and that they cannot escape the consequences.”

Government schemes such as the Mukhyamantri Laxmi Laadli Yojana, the Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana and Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojana exist to provide financial incentives, so parents do not marry off underage daughters. They encourage parents to have fewer children and to keep them in school until Class XII, in the form of direct transfer payments to post-office savings accounts, or to give assistance to tribal families who need money to marry their adult daughters. However, such schemes are not having the required effect, said Khan, of Breakthrough.

Rashmi Singh, executive director of the government’s National Mission for Empowerment of Women, said that despite schemes such as these and laws, the state falls short on implementation and there is a need for a mindset change within the bureaucracy. “We realize that it’s not laws alone with which we are going to address this burning issue, which impacts all the critical development indicators related to the girl child. Do we have the institutional mechanisms in place? Do we have a child marriage prohibition officer in place? We need to make people aware of the processes—whom do you complain to? I strongly feel that we will fall short unless we work with civil society,” she said.


Monday, 21 October 2013

India backs out of UN resolution on child marriage

Moushumi Das Gupta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 16, 2013

First Published: 00:01 IST(16/10/2013) | Last Updated: 01:29 IST(16/10/2013)

Concerned that it might end up making unintended commitments prompted India to decide against co-sponsoring a United Nations human rights council resolution on eliminating child, early and forced marriages.

India had supported the resolution at the council meeting in New York last week. But it stopped short of co-sponsoring the resolution that, human rights activists say, would have brought New Delhi’s poor implementation of the relevant laws under international glare.

India’s prohibition of child marriage act prescribes jail for anyone – including parents – for allowing child marriage. In a country where every second bride is a child, just about 400 people were arrested under this law in 2012.

The UNHRC resolution while recognising child, early and forced marriage as a human rights violation calls for its elimination and the need to include it in the post-2015 development agenda.

Government officials attributed New Delhi’s reluctance to the resolution’s reference to “early marriage”.

“We have laws against child marriage and forced marriage. But since early marriage has not been defined anywhere, there was no clarity on the legal implication of co-sponsoring the resolution against early marriage,” an official said.

Activists, however, don’t buy this explanation.

“India’s domestic law clearly defines a child as someone below 18 years. How does it matter if early marriage hasn’t been defined,” said Meenakshi Ganguly of Human Rights Watch, arguing that it could have been legislated in any case.

At 47%, while India has the 14th highest rate of child marriage in the world  behind countries like Bangladesh (66%), Niger (75%), Chad (72%) and  Mali (71%), it has the largest number of child brides – an estimated one-third of the global total.


India Criticized for Not Co-Sponsoring U.N. Child-Bride Resolution

Country sees more underage marriages than anywhere in the world

By Nilanjana Bhowmick / New Delhi @nilanjanabOct. 14, 2013 5 Comments

Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

Krishna, 14, breaks down after her husband Kishan Gopal, 16, came home drunk in a village near Baran, located in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, Jan. 21, 2013

India has been criticized by rights groups for not co-sponsoring a U.N.-led resolution that calls for the elimination of early marriage. The first-of-its-kind proposal, initiated by the U.N. Human Rights Council and co-sponsored by 107 countries, calls for the ending of child marriage to become part of the global development agenda after 2015.

Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry spokesperson said that although the government was not a co-sponsor it nonetheless “supported the objectives of the resolution.”

A statement issued by the Center for Reproductive Rights said that while several countries with high rates of child marriage adopted the resolution, including Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Honduras, and Yemen, “not a single South Asian country with significantly high rates of child marriage co-sponsored the proposal — specifically India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan or Pakistan.”

India’s 24 million child brides is the largest such number in the world, representing 40% of the global total of 60 million. South Asia as a whole accounts for more than half of the world’s child marriages.

“Early marriage cuts short [girls’] education, places them at risk of domestic abuse and marital rape, and makes them economically dependent,” says Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “It has a profoundly detrimental impact on their physical and mental well-being.”

It is estimated that 130 million young girls will be married against their will by 2030, if South Asian countries continue to turn a blind eye to the practice.

The legal age for marriage in India is 18, but rights groups say the law is not adequately enforced.

Read more:


On world stage, India lets down its child brides

Kounteya Sinha, TNN Oct 14, 2013, 12.49AM IST


(India has refused to sign…)

LONDON: India, the world's child marriage capital, has once again failed its under-age brides.

The country has refused to sign the first-ever global resolution on early and forced marriage of children led by the UN.

The resolution was supported by a cross-regional group of over 107 countries, including almost all countries with high rates of child marriage—Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Guatemala, Honduras and Yemen.

The resolution floated by the UN Human Rights Council stressed the need to include child, early and forced marriage in post-2015 international development agenda and acknowledged the multi-faceted impact of early marriage on the "economic, legal, health and social status of women and girls" as well as "the development of the community as a whole".

India has the record of having the highest absolute number of child brides: about 24 million. This represents 40% of the 60 million world's child marriages.

The percentage of women between the ages of 20 and 24 who were married before 18 years of age has decreased from 54% in 1992-93 to 43% in 2007-08, thus showing a reduction of 11% in 15 years. This improvement however is far too little, experts say.

Lakshmi Sundaram, the global coordinator of Girls Not Brides who was at the UN general assembly last week told TOI: "India refusing to sign the resolution is highly disappointing. Though India is putting in place a national plan to combat child marriages, it was strange why it did not stand up against the social ill in the international stage. India would have given out a positive signal that it is willing to find a solution by signing the resolution".

Sundaram added: "Child marriage is a social ill across south Asian countries. However, Nepal probably is the only country that signed the resolution. Both India and Bangladesh which have high rates of child marriages didn't sign in. It a setback globally to the cause that India didn't speak out".

The Centre for Reproductive Rights says governments in the South Asia region have failed to enact and enforce adequate laws that prohibit child marriage.

"The practice persists with impunity. In South Asia, 46% of women between ages 20-24 report having been married before age 18 in 2010. This translated to 24.4 million women in the region. Estimates project that from 2010 to 2030, 130 million more girls in the region will be married."

"Child marriage does not constitute a single rights violation - rather, every instance of child marriage triggers a continuum of violations that continues throughout a girl's life. Child marriage endangers the survival and well-being of women and girls by exposing them to forced initiation into sex and sexual violence as well as to early, unplanned and frequent pregnancies. Further, women and girls married as children are often denied educational opportunities, are isolated from society and face a lifetime of economic dependence," the Centre said.

India introduced laws against child marriage in 1929, and set 12 years as the legal age for marriage. Later, it was increased to 18 years in 1978.


Monday, 14 October 2013

Children’s Village Meetings in Karnataka - (Makkala Grama Sabhas)

Monday, September 30, 2013 - 13:12

Photo: ,Srikanth Kolari/ActionAid

by Alex George

Leader, Child Rights Hub

Makkala Grama Sabhas (Children’s Village Meetings) of Karnataka conducted under the decentralised system of Government for rural areas in India called the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) is the first experiment at a state level in extending citizenship rights to children.

As a model, which recognises children as equal citizens, the Strategic Priority 4 of Action Aid India’s Country Strategy Paper 2011-16, Knowledge Activist Hub on Child Rights conducted a team visit to Karnataka to know more about the functioning of the Makkala Grama Sabha (MGS) and Makkala Panchayats (Children’s Village Committees (CVC)) on the ground.

Though many NGOs have constituted Children’s Panchayats and Child Parliaments in various states of India these remain only as children’s fora for discussion and advocacy without being linked to the State system at any level : central, state or PRI. Here on the contrary is a unique case where children had a recommendatory role to the Gram Panchayats. The MGSs, which were conducted in various Gram Panchayats (GP) in Karnataka and the CVCs, which were elected from these arose from an order of the State Government in 2007 that a Gram Sabha meeting of all children in 5-15 age group from all schools should be conducted annually in every Gram Panchayat to present issues pertaining to children.

In several GPs these meetings led to the election of a committee of children’s village level representatives’ viz. CVCs. This order was the result of advocacy by various organisations working on Child Rights in Karnataka such as Concerned for Working Children (CWC). The Gram Panchayats (GP) we visited in Udupi and Shimoga districts were suggested by an expert in decentralisation related research who was of the view that the MGSs and the CVCS in these GPs were working somewhat well. The visit served the purpose of knowing whether the MGS and Children’s Committees were a grounded reality and how they functioned. We met children who were/are members of the Children’s Committees under GPs, the GP functionaries, officials at GPs and officials at a Taluk Panchayat i.e. the next higher tier of India’s three tier PRI system.

The study team visited the following Gram Panchayats/ Taluk Panchayat viz: Maravante and Madamake Gram Panchayats in Kundapur Taluk, Udupi District, Melinabesige Gram Panchayat, Hosnagara Taluk, Shimoga District and the Udupi Taluk Panchayat.

·         The first meetings of the MGSs were conducted in 2007 in response to a Government Order to conduct a meeting of children in the age group of 5-15 years to discuss issues pertaining to children who led to electing a committee of children’s representatives.

·         The elected children’s committee met periodically. In Maravante they met 7 times in a year.

·         A few days before the MGS meetings, posters were put up and discussions took place around the happening of this event. In some schools children’s representatives went around classrooms to enquire about issues which children wanted to discuss. 

·         The minutes of discussion of the MGSs were meticulously maintained with video graphic documentation on CDs. These were kept in the respective GPs as well as in the Taluq (Block) Panchayats. The Udupi Taluq Panchayat office had a record of the minutes of the MGSs conducted in all the 61 Panchayats in the Taluq along with videos on CDs for each of them.

·         Most of the issues that children raised pertained to school/ village infrastructure, which affected children as well as the general population. Some of these were:

·         Provision of village roads and road maintenance

·         Constructions of foot bridges over small rivulets to help children to reach schools, but are also useful for all people of the village.

·         Street lighting, provision of electricity to houses and provision of solar lights

·         Drinking water in school as well as in the houses

·         Toilets in schools as well as in the houses

·         Building school compound walls; constructing a stage in the school.

·         Repair of Anganwadies

·         Teacher’s availability in school, voiced in one of the three GPs.

·         Keep the school free of adults’ playing cards with money, engaging in alcoholism and occupying the school premises.

It appeared that the concept of MGS was presented to children as a forum in which children could take up issues of village infrastructure which concerned them as well as the village community to be addressed through the Gram Panchayats. Issues pertaining to school functioning or quality surfaced only marginally through these children’s fora. Similarly issues pertaining to functioning of ICDS centres (for nutrition & preschool education) also did not come up in the MGS or CVC. Most children have enjoyed being members of the Children’s Committees. They felt that it was very motivating to come together, share the issues of fellow children and were proud that they were able to solve some of their problems and those of the community.

The Karnataka exercise in extension of democracy to children is laudable. It needs to be critically studied, documented and advocated for implementation with necessary modifications elsewhere in India as well as in other countries.

The long history of active decentralisation of Karnataka, which even predates the 73rd Constitutional Amendment of India of 1992 on decentralisation of governance in rural areas and the involvement of child rights organisations like CWC, which advocated for bringing children into the democratic process have both played a role in bringing about MGS and Children’s Village Committees possible.

It needs to be noted also that children however could take up through MGS and its committees mainly issues, which did not put them in confrontation with the school establishments.

The current processes of MGS and CVC need to be evaluated and suitable modifications suggested. The present model in its implementation excludes the Out of School Children and is school focused. Moreover, it includes only children up to 15 years, though the definition of child under India’s current National Policy for Children 2013 covers up to 18 years.

Some other questions also remain. How can children’s democratic involvement be considered beyond a novel replica of adult political activity? What kind of powers can children’s democratic involvement be vested with? How can children’s democratic participation be sustained once it loses its cuteness and novelty?




Karnataka has highest dropout rate among Muslim students

Manu Aiyappa, TNN Oct 9, 2013, 06.03AM IST


(About one-third of Muslim…)

BANGALORE: Karnataka, often called a "progressive state", has the highest dropout rate among Muslim students. On an average, 50,000 students from the community dropout of school each year, a majority of them at the high school level, according to a survey done by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

The average dropout rate is 6.2% compared to
 the national average of less than 5%.

"The statistics show a worrisome trend," says Mohammed Ali Sheriff, a Harvard and IIM-B research scholar who has studied surveys by the SSA, the National Minorities Development Corporation and other agencies on school enrolment and dropouts among Muslim students.

Survey data for the period between 2008-09 and 2011-12 shows that more Muslim boys drop out of classes IX and X than girls. "This can possibly be because of the transition of a large number of students from Urdu-medium primary schools to high schools that have Kannada or English medium," Sheriff says.

About one-third of Muslim children in Karnataka study in Urdu-medium schools. One of the main reasons for increasing dropouts is that there are just 520 Urdu-medium high schools against 2,411 primary schools that have Urdu as medium of instruction.

The Gulbarga and Belgaum divisions have the highest number of students studying in Urdu-medium schools.

But there's a silver lining: between 2008-09 and 2011-12, about 15.1 lakh Muslim students were enrolled — a healthy 15% of the total enrolments in the state.

Sheriff notes: "This reveals an educational awakening among Muslims and success of the Prime Minister's pre-matric scholarship scheme for meritorious students from minority communities. Though the scheme started with only 21,018 scholarships across Karnataka in 2008-09, the number increased to 4.27 lakh in 2011-12."

Karnataka has the best gender balance among Muslims students, he says. The Gender Parity Index (the number of girls per boys) is 1.05, suggesting that more and more Muslim girls are enrolling themselves and moving to the secondary level.

Commissioner of public instruction Mohammed Mohsin told TOI that primary and secondary education minister Kimmanne Ratnakar will soon speak to Muslim legislators on checking the dropout rate. "The minister is aware of the problem and working out various schemes to arrest the trend."

Former education minister BK Chandrashekar said: "Socio-economic issues could be behind the high dropout rate among Muslim students. Community leaders and stakeholders must focus on offering scientific learning in Urdu schools at the primary level. This will make the students competent and focused."


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

District level network of CRCs in Davangere was formed on 7th October 2013.

Chief guests included:

1. Mr.C.H.Hiregowdar, District Laobour officer,      


2. Mr. Basavarajaiah, District Child Protection Officer,    


Tuesday, 8 October 2013



Updated: October 7, 2013 16:54 IST

Remember the girl child






This International Day of the Girl Child let us take a look at girls who grow up in marginalised societies and developing countries.

October 11 is International Day of the Girl Child. This year the theme is Innovating for Girls’ Education. All over the world girls face unique challenges not only at home but also at schools and in society. This day is set aside to recognise the rights of the girl child.

One of the most imperative and important obligations society has towards the girl child is education. This is a powerful tool in transforming not only her life but also that of her whole family. It determines development, health, poverty reduction and a tendency to social change.

For many girls, especially those from marginalised communities, education continues to remain a distant dream. They are not able to attend school for many reasons — distance from home to school, finance, institutional and cultural barriers and so on.

School or work?

For many of them, the family thinks that sending the girl to school deprives the home of an additional income and an opportunity to escape from household chores. The aspirations of how they would perform in school are also rather low. Hence it is of great importance to bring home the fact that an educated girl could transform the society.

Recognising the need for this, this year International Day of the Girl Child will address the importance of new technology, the use of resources and the help of the community and most importantly the engagement of young people. There is also a need for improved public and private transportation for girls to get to and from school, providing science and technology courses that would be targeted at girls in schools and mentor programmes to help girls acquire skills that would make their transition from school to work smooth and easy.


Every Third Child in Gujarat is Underweight: CAG

By IndiaTimes | October 5, 2013, 11:55 am IST - Posted 47 mins ago INDIA



Ahmedabad: The CAG has lambasted the working of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in Gujarat, which is aimed at fighting malnutrition among children, saying every third child in the state is underweight. “Though there were 223.16 lakh eligible beneficiaries under Supplementary Nutrition (SN) programme under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), 63.37 lakh beneficiaries were left out,” the CAG said in its report, which was tabled in the state Assembly on Thursday.

“As against the target of 300 nutrition days annually, shortfall in providing SN was up to 96 days. Every third child in the state was reported as underweight. Shortfall of 27 percent to 48 percent was noticed in the implementation of nutrition programme for adolescent girls,” the report said.

The report further said that a population of 1.87 crore was deprived of the benefits of ICDS. “Against the requirements of 75,480 Angan Wadi Centres (AWCs), 52,137 AWCs (69 percent) were sanctioned and 50,225 AWCs were in operation in the state, thereby, a population of 1.87 crore was deprived of the benefits of ICDS,” the report stated.

The report goes on to say that though the central government directed the state government in November 2008 to submit proposal for additional projects based on revised population criteria, the state did not forward any proposal. The report also highlighted the lack of basic amenities (building, safe drinking water and toilets) in nine to 40 percent of AWCs in the 123 projects in eight test-checked districts.

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) had sanctioned a loan to construct 3,333 AWCs, but only 1,979 AWCs were constructed, the report said, adding that records regarding immunisation programme were not available with AWCs.

The report highlights that though funds for purchase of the medical kits were provided, they were not bought by the District Development Officer (DDO). Of the 34.28 lakh children registered in the AWCs of the selected districts, only 26.94 lakh children enrolled for pre-school education, the report said, adding that there was a shortfall in supply of pre-school kits while the tri-cycles procured for children in the test-checked district was of “poor quality”.

The Centre had launched ICDS in 1975 to promote holistic development of children (till six years), expectant and lactating mothers and adolescent girls (11-18 years) through package services comprising supplementary nutrition, immunisation, health check-ups, nutrition and health education and informal pre-school education of children.

Till 2008-09, the Centre funded the project entirely. Thereafter, the state government’s share was 10 percent and Centre funded 90 percent of the project. The expenditure on Supplementary Nutrition Programme was shared by the Centre and the state.