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11-year-old Indian schoolgirl forced into domestic servitude escapes, says she was sold

The figures show a 25 percent increase in cases of human trafficking in India in 2015, with 43 percent of the 9,127 victims below the age of 18

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CHENNAI, India, September 28, 2016: An 11-year-old girl who escaped from a middle-class home where she was forced to work as a domestic help in southern India told investigators on Monday that she had been pulled out of school and sold for $15 by her family.

After she escaped from a house in Tambaram near the port city of Chennai on Sunday morning, the girl told child welfare committee officials that she was made to work in two homes round the clock, given very little to eat and was not paid or allowed to continue her schooling.

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“She scaled the wall at around four in the morning on Sunday and asked an auto-rickshaw driver for help,” said Zaheeruddin Mohamed, the member of the local child welfare committee.

“She is now in a government children’s home. A preliminary investigation indicates she was exploited, underfed and not allowed to leave.”

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Crime data released by the Indian government in August showed more than 40 percent of human trafficking cases in 2015 involved children being bought, sold and exploited as modern day slaves.

The figures showed a 25 percent increase in cases of human trafficking in India in 2015, with 43 percent of the 9,127 victims below the age of 18.

The crimes included inducing a young girl with the intent of sexual intercourse, buying or selling a girl for prostitution, and keeping a child as a slave.

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In her statement to the committee, the 11-year-old said she was living with her grandparents in their village in Tamil Nadu state’s Thiruvarur, nearly 300 km (190 miles) from where she was brought to work, and studying in grade seven. Her parents had abandoned her.

“The girl has told us that she was sold to an acquaintance of her mother, who made her work as a maid in his house and in his in-laws home,” Mohamed told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The man who “bought” the girl runs a travel agency and registered the child as missing after she escaped.

The committee said they would file an official complaint against him with the police and he would be charged with trafficking based on the girl’s statement.

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“The girl shudders at the mention of her trafficker and when she was brought to us, she was very, very frightened,” said Mohamed.

According to her recorded statement, she was sold for just 1,000 rupees ($15). (Reuters)

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Saudi Arabia, Cuba on List of World’s Worst Fighters of Human Trafficking

The top U.S. diplomat said traffickers are currently victimizing nearly 25 million people worldwide

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks on the release of the 2019 Trafficking in Person (TIP) Report at the US State Department in Washington, Thursday, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) VOA

Saudi Arabia and Cuba are now on a list of countries the United States considers derelict in their responsibilities to combat human trafficking, raising the risk of sanctions against those countries.

In its annual report on human trafficking, the State Department accused ally Saudi Arabia of widespread violations involving foreign laborers and denounced Cuba for allegedly engaging in trafficking through its program that exports doctors abroad.

“If you don’t stand up to trafficking, America will stand up to you,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday in Washington, shortly after the report’s release. The annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) assesses what countries are doing to combat what Pompeo describes as “one of the most heinous crimes on Earth.”

The top U.S. diplomat said traffickers are currently victimizing nearly 25 million people worldwide. The State Department designated Saudi Arabia and Cuba as Tier 3 countries, the report’s lowest possible ranking. China, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela have also been designated as such.

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FILE – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. VOA

The U.S. said the Saudi kingdom has done little to help victims, choosing to, instead, jail, fine or deport them after accusing them of immigration violations or prostitution.Cuba, a long-time U.S. adversary, has threatened or coerced physicians to participate in its overseas medical program, the report said.

Some 8,300 Cuban medical workers who had been stationed in Brazil departed the country after President Jair Bolsonaro complained earlier this year the Cuban government keeps most of the wages paid to the workers, whom he described as “slave labor.

Tier 3 countries are subject to U.S. actions, including partial or total elimination of support from the International Monetary Fund or other international support organizations.

The U.S. president, however, can waive sanctions against Tier 3 countries with the hope it will encourage them act more aggressively against traffickers. Pompeo said the U.S. took actions last year against 22 Tier 3 countries.

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The annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) assesses what countries are doing to combat what Pompeo describes as “one of the most heinous crimes on Earth.” Flickr

The State Department report, which assesses 187 countries, concluded many world governments have enacted laws to hold traffickers accountable since the 2000 adoption of the United Nation’s Palermo Protocol. The pact requires countries to codify human trafficking as a crime both within and between countries.

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But the report calls on countries to do more to ensure protections for victims within their borders. Greater protections requires “political courage” to investigate “official power structures,” for example, and to “ending impunity for crimes that have long been seen as accepted local and cultural practices.”

“Acknowledging human trafficking within the borders of a country is not easy,” the report declared. “Governments should be willing to admit its existence and rise to their responsibility to address it.” (VOA)