Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.
The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.
“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”
“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.
Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women
and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.
Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.
Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.
“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”
But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.
“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.
Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.
Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.
“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.
“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”
The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.
“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.
India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.
“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.
“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”
Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.
“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”
The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.
Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.
“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)
Actor and dancer Susovan Sonu Roy began his career as a western dancer. Bengali Actor Susovan Sonu Roy was a part of the Star Jalsha channel's serial named "Kora Pakhi". He played a negative role in the serial for several months, along with lead actress Parno Mitra. He acted in the Star Jalsha channel's serial "Mohor", and through Mohor, he got "Kora Pakhi", which is the same production house project.
Susovan Sonu Roy debuted with the serial "Anandamoyee Maa", on the Aakash Aath channel. He has also acted in Zee Bangla channel's serial "Jamuna Dhaki," in which he played the role of a neighbour. After that, Susovan Sonu Roy acted in the Star Jalsha channel's serial named "Titli" in which he played a vital role. He has also starred in a serial called "Khelaghor.". People recognised him as an actor after being cast in so many serials.
The Kolkata Actor Susovan Sonu Roy dared to leave his job to follow his dreams in the field of acting. After graduation, he auditioned for many Mumbai based projects, and later on, he auditioned for his hometown, i.e., Kolkata based projects and did workshops under the production house of renowned Directors and Producers for two years (2016 -2018).
A two-member team of Mugdha Dubey and Mahyah Binti Idris from NewsGram interviewed Bengali actor Susovan Sonu Roy, a budding actor and western dancer, about his career, struggle and various issues in the entertainment industry on Saturday.
The Kolkata Actor Susovan Sonu Roy dared to leave his job to follow his dreams in the field of acting. | NewsGram
Readout excerpts from the interview with Susovan Sonu Roy.
Mahyah Binti Idris: Before we begin with this interview, would you like to tell us something about yourself?
SS Roy: So, basically, I am an actor from Kolkata, and I have worked in Bengali TV Serials, and I started my career in the entertainment industry as a western dancer. When I was just five years old, I lost my father in a car accident. Despite my difficult upbringing, my mother never wavered in her commitment of achieving the goals I set for myself.
Mahyah Binti Idris: Despite your mother's wishes, what was the inspiration that made you decide to pursue a career in acting/dancing instead of singing?
SS Roy: I am a firm believer of the fact that inspiration comes from within, and positivity is essential. Things go your way when you're upbeat and optimistic. I enjoy the work I do, and once I started my career in the entertainment industry, there was no turning back, I kept acquiring one project after another. I have always wanted to be an actor, and I am happy that I found my inspiration from within.
Mahyah Binti Idris: You played a negative character in 'Kora Pakhi' for several months. What kind of impact did it have on your professional life after opting for such a role?
SS Roy: I am pretty comfortable in opting for any kind of role I am offered because I believe acting is acting, whether it is a big role, a minor role, a negative or a positive role. I take inspiration from the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty and John Abraham.
Mahyah Binti Idris: Nowadays, cyberbullying and trolling are getting more frequent. How do you handle trolls or deal with criticism?
SS Roy: Trolls exist just to cause others distress. I ignore all the negativity and don't let it affect me in any way. If anyone lets the negative comments get into their head, they will find it difficult to do anything, as negativity hinders pursuing dreams.
Mahyah Binti Idris: What, in your opinion, is more crucial to long-term success in the field of acting, additional projects or formal training?
SS Roy: Indeed, training about the various techniques used in acting is essential, and once you get into the role, everything comes out naturally but that doesn’t mean one should stop training to become better day by day, training and trying to improve your skills is very important.
Mahyah Binti Idris: Where do you see yourself in a few years, and what projects do you have on your bucket list?
SS Roy: I auditioned for a movie that will feature Kajal Aggarwal in the lead. My ultimate goal is to crack a role in Bollywood. I want to gain as much experience as possible in serials and movies.
Mugdha Dubey: What is the difference in the challenges one faces while struggling to gain a role in regional cinema and Bollywood?
SS Roy: The difference in struggle is huge; it is pretty challenging to get a role in Bollywood. But I believe that experience matters and gives you an edge over others because you are already aware of some techniques used in acting and won't commit the mistakes a fresher does. I got the chance to audition for a movie with the lead as Kajal Agarwal because of my experience.
Mugdha Dubey: Have you ever witnessed nepotism firsthand, or did you ever feel that nepotism is prevalent in the Kolkata film industry?
SS Roy: Nothing can stop you if you put in the effort and stay true to your ambitions. But, one cannot ignore the fact that nepotism is everywhere, be it Bollywood or Tollywood. The acquaintances of artists get easily recognized but that shouldn’t demotivate aspiring actors because your hard work matters and if you keep working hard in the right direction, you will surely get recognized.
Mugdha Dubey: What message or tips would you like to convey to today's youngsters and those who aspire to become actors?
SS Roy: I would encourage the young generation to stand up for what they believe in and make the world a better place for future generations by following your passions and utilizing your inborn talents and abilities. If they aspire to become actors, I would like to tell them that mere luck will not be sufficient to become an actor; the struggle is real. You need to work very hard and train yourself to become an actor. Your success and failure depend on what you do, and the type of content you can produce, and one should always try to improve themselves.
(Keywords: Susovan Sonu Roy, Tollywood, bollywood news, actor, dancer, nepotism, struggle, kolkata, bengali)
- Sindoor Khela: Bengali women play with sindoor on vijayadashami ... ›
- Meet 'Power Talking Books' ! New Bangla Audiobook App Makes it ... ›
- Upcoming B-Town Films Inspired From The Great Epics Ramayana ... ›
NASA will pay up to $1 million to people who can come up with innovative and sustainable food production ideas to feed astronauts in space, as the US space agency prepares to send astronauts further into the cosmos than ever before. Giving future explorers the technology to produce nutritious, tasty, and satisfying meals on long-duration space missions will give them the energy required to uncover the great unknown. In coordination with the Canadian Space Agency, NASA has launched the 'Deep Space Food Challenge' that calls on teams to design, build, and demonstrate prototypes of food production technologies that provide tangible nutritional products -- or food.
Also Read : NASA introduces 18 astronauts for Lunar program
"Feeding astronauts over long periods within the constraints of space travel will require innovative solutions," said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. "Pushing the boundaries of food technology will keep future explorers healthy and could even help feed people here at home," he said in a statement. Over time, food loses its nutritional value. That means for a multi-year mission to Mars, bringing along pre-packaged food will not meet all the needs for maintaining astronaut health.
Innovative food production technology that produces safe, acceptable, palatable, nutritious food products. |UnsplashUnsplash
In October 2021, Phase 1 of the challenge culminated as NASA awarded 18 teams a total of $450,000 for their concepts for innovative food production technology that produces safe, acceptable, palatable, nutritious food products. NASA now invites both new and existing teams to enter Phase 2 for a prize purse up to $1 million. "Everything needed to store, prepare and deliver food to the crew, including production, processing, transport, consumption, and disposal of waste should be considered," said NASA. Proposed technologies such as plant growth systems, manufactured food products, and ready-to-eat solutions combined could provide the future crews with a variety of options that would provide the needed daily nutrition, it added. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : NASA, innovative, food, healthy, idea, astronaut, USA, tasty, technology, space, travel, explorer, health, nutrition, prize, solution, variety.)
- NASA Chooses Landing Site For Mars 2020 Rover - NewsGram ... ›
- Valkyrie: NASA humanoid robot dances to techno music ... ›
People suffering from depression are more likely to believe vaccine-related misinformation, according to a new study. The study found that people with moderate or greater symptoms of depression were more likely to believe at least 1 of 4 false statements about Covid-19 vaccines.
Those who believed the statements to be true were half as likely to be vaccinated, the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicated. 'It is clear the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the mental health of Americans, especially young people," said researcher Katherine Ognyanova from Rutgers University, the US.
People suffering from depression are more likely to believe vaccine-related misinformation. | Unsplash
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately one-quarter of adults in the US have consistently reported moderate or greater depressive symptoms during the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings suggest that people suffering from depression may be at a higher risk of Covid-19, highlighting the need to address mental health disorders.
For the study, the team used data from the research group The Covid States Project, which conducted surveys approximately once every six weeks since April 2020. The researchers analysed data from 15,464 adults in the US and the participants were asked to rate vaccine-related misinformation as accurate (statement is true), inaccurate (statement is not true) or not sure.
Approximately one-quarter of adults in US reported moderate or greater depressive symptoms during the Covid-19 pandemic. | Unsplash
The four statements of misinformation included "The Covid-19 vaccines will alter people's DNA", "The vaccines contain microchips that could track people", "The vaccines contain the lung tissue of aborted fetuses", and "The -19 vaccines can cause infertility, making it more difficult to get pregnant". The survey participants completed a health questionnaire to measure major depressive symptoms over two weeks. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: depression, vaccine, misinformation, patients, health questionnaire, study)