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Every day girls are bought and sold in Delhi’s red light areas: DCW

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A 16-year-old girl stands inside a protection home on the outskirts of New Delhi November 9, 2012. She was working as a maid and was later rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), a charity which rescues victims of bonded labour. There are no reliable figures for how many people are trafficked for domestic servitude. The Indian government says 126,321 trafficked children were rescued from domestic work in 2011/12, a rise of almost 27 percent from the previous year. Activists say if you include women over 18 years, the figure could run into the hundreds of thousands. Picture taken November 9, 2012. To match Feature INDIA-TRAFFICKING/ REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal (INDIA - Tags: SOCIETY POVERTY) - RTR3B6H0

By Nita Bhalla

Siliguri (Thomson Reuters Foundation): Girls and women trafficked from the poorest states in India and sold for sexual exploitation to brothels in the Indian capital face a sad and horrible life with little hope of escaping, a senior Delhi government official said on Friday.

Swati Maliwal, head of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), said she had recently visited the city’s red light district of Garstin Bastion Road, popularly known as G.B. Road, where she was shocked by the lack of support given to sex workers.

“Every day, girls and women are being brought there. They are bought and sold there for between 5,000 rupees and 100,000 rupees ($75 to $1,500) depending on whether they are virgins or not,” Maliwal told an anti-trafficking event in the eastern town of Siliguri.

“They are forced to sleep with up to 30 men daily. Most of the time, they are not given any money as most of it goes to the pimp. It is extremely sad and cannot be justified in independent India. It’s just horrible.”

Almost 36 million people are enslaved worldwide — trafficked into brothels, forced into manual labor, victims of debt bondage or even born into servitude, says the 2014 Global Slavery Index.

Almost half – 16 million – are in India. Many are from poor rural regions and are lured with the promise good jobs or marriage, but end up sold into domestic work, prostitution, or industries such as brick kilns or textile units.

Maliwal, who was appointed in July as chairperson of the DCW – a government body which focuses on implementing the safeguards provided for women under the constitution – said little had been done in the past to protect trafficked sex workers.

Despite a committee being set up in 2012 to look into anti-trafficking measures and rehabilitation in Delhi, she said, the committee had not met once until October last year when she had pushed for it.

“I really don’t understand how the highest levels of the government could do something like that. We had a meeting in October and some good decisions have now come out of it,” Maliwal told the gathering of civil society organizations, lawyers, judges and government officials.

“Delhi doesn’t have a rehabilitation policy, there is no restoration policy for victims and now after this committee met, we are trying to work on it,” she added.

The DCW is also starting a pilot project where it will partner with the private sector and select up to 50 rescued women and girls to provide them with training and jobs as well as set up residential schools for the children of sex workers.

Maliwal said she also found many other problems faced by the 5,000 sex workers residing in G.B. Road which she said could be easily resolved.

Despite an estimated 600,000 condoms being used monthly, none had been distributed by the government for five months due a “technical glitch,” she said.

“This is very strange and very sorry. You can imagine that if 600,000 condoms are normally being used there, and then there are none, the kind of infection that might spread. It is almost like an epidemic that we are creating,” said Maliwal.

“We have now issued a notice and ensured that condoms are being distributed.”

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Closing Red light areas Post Lockdown can reduce COVID cases in India: Research

Continued closure of Indian red-light areas after lockdown can help reduce the curve of COVID-19 cases

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COVID cases can be kept on low by closing red light areas after lockdown. Pixabay

BY PUJA GUPTA

Continuing the closure of red-light areas in India even after the lifting of the lockdown on May 17 can reduce the number of COVID cases by 72 per cent in a period of 45-days, and delay the peak of cases by 17 days, says a finding by academicians from Yale School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School.

The study called ‘Modelling the Effect of Continued Closure of Red-Light Areas on COVID Transmission in India’ finds that Indians are at a much lower risk of getting COVID-19 if red light areas are kept closed after the lockdown until an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 is developed. This intervention can help the Indian government significantly reduce the risk of citizens getting COVID-19.

The delay in the peak will provide the government more time and opportunities to plan and execute measures to protect public health and economy, as India moves in Lockdown 4.0. The study also states that there could be a 63 per cent reduction in the number of deaths in the first 60 days after the lockdown ends if red-light areas are kept closed.

In India, there are close to 6,37,500 sex workers as per the National Aids Control Organization (NACO) and over 5 lakh customers visit the red-light areas on a daily basis. The study shows that if the red-light areas start operating, the disease will spread extremely quickly and infect a very high percentage of sex workers and customers. The high transmission rate is because social distancing is not possible during the act of sex. The infected customers could spread the disease to lakhs of other citizens.

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COVID cases might reduce by 72% if red light areas are locked post lockdown lifts. Pixabay

Therefore, these red-light areas have a combination of factors that can create a major hotspot. This hotspot can create a large percentage of the disease spread after lockdown ends. To protect citizens against this, the study recommends keeping red light areas closed indefinitely, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report highlights the impact of red-light areas across India and in five Indian cities which are currently in the red-zone and account for some of the largest red-light areas in the country with large numbers of sex workers.

As per the study, if red-light areas are kept closed following the lifting of lockdown, there can be a delay in the peak of COVID-19 cases by:

Up to 12 days in Mumbai

Up to 17 days in New Delhi,

Up to 29 days in Pune,

Up to 30 days in Nagpur,

Up to 36 days in Kolkata

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Indian red light areas are on high risk of COVID. PC: EconomicTimes

Further, it can reduce COVID-19 cases in a 45-day period by:

21 per cent in Mumbai,

27 per cent in Pune,

31 per cent in New Delhi,

56 per cent in Nagpur,

66 per cent in Kolkata

The report shows that closure of red-light areas can significantly reduce deaths by 63 per cent in India, 28 per cent in Mumbai, 38 per cent in New Delhi, 43 per cent in Pune, 61 per cent in Nagpur and 66 per cent in Kolkata in the first 60 days. These numbers are based on the prevalent reproduction number of 2.0. The numbers could vary depending on the Reproduction number, which is constantly changing with time in different locations.

Commenting on the report, co-author, Dr. Jefferey Townsend, Professor of Biostatistics, Yale School of Medicine said: “At the release of lockdown, there is a very high potential for the increase in the cases, and hence, a modulated approach is warranted. The actual scenario will depend on behaviour of individuals and our model does not predict how individuals will behave. The purpose of our modelling exercises in not to predict what will happen in the future, but to understand the effect of the intervention on the future. Our study findings show that there is a strong effect of the red-light area closures, especially immediately following the lockdown.”

Other countries have also implemented similar interventions. In Australia, brothels and strip clubs are the only businesses that are delineated as indefinitely closed in the country’s reopening plan. Germany and the Netherlands have also closed their brothels to protect citizens from COVID-19. Japan did not close down red light areas in-time and saw an “explosion” in cases because of a red light area that left local hospitals “overwhelmed”.

Speaking about the COVID-19 situation in India, co-author of the report, Dr Sudhakar Nuti, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School said: “The Indian government’s early measures to prevent the high growth in COVID-19 cases have flattened the curve in the country. The continued closure of red-light areas would build on the successes achieved by the government in lockdown. India gained around 40 days of delay in the peak through a lockdown and can gain another 17 days of delay by keeping these places closed. Any effort in delaying the peak reduces the amount of stress on the medical system and potentially translates into lives saved. Preventing the potential surge in cases by red light areas reopening will protect gains made by the lockdown.”

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The report has been co-authored by Prof. Jeffery Townsend, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, Prof. Alison Galvani, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Modelling & Analysis, Yale University, and Dr. Sudhakar Nuti, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. (IANS)

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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)

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Human Trafficking Across Myanmar-China Border Continues to Increase

“Last year there were 40 cases last year, and at about this time last year we had 16 cases, but this year we’ve already had 19 cases"

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In a file photo, Marip Lu sits in her family's shelter in a refugee camp in northern Kachin State, Myanmar. She claims she was kidnapped by traffickers and suffered six years of captivity, rape and abuse deep in China. RFERL

The number of women from Myanmar being trafficked for marriage to Chinese husbands is increasing, according to statistics kept by officials stationed at the Myanmar-China border.

Police Chief Kyaw Nyunt of Myanmar’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force in Muse District explained that many of the women being trafficked are tricked into crossing the border with promises of a better life, but once they arrive in China, they are at the mercy of traffickers.

“Currently instances of brides being trafficked to China continues to increase,” said Kyaw Nyunt. “They lure [women] in various ways, like [advertising] job opportunities, but in most cases they are sold as brides to Chinese [men],” he said.

Statistics are finalized at the end of the calendar year, but according to the police chief, the trafficking in 2019 is occurring at a faster pace than it was in 2018. “Last year there were 40 cases last year, and at about this time last year we had 16 cases, but this year we’ve already had 19 cases,” he said.

“The main cause of trafficking is economic hardship,” said Nan Kham Mai, the Vice Chairwoman of the Shan Literature and Culture Association in Muse. Pixabay

Most of the trafficked victims are women from Central and Lower Myanmar, which, according to Unicef, are areas where poverty rates are in excess of 30% and reach as high as 46% in the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) region. Kyaw Nyunt said most come from the Yangon region.

“The main cause of trafficking is economic hardship,” said Nan Kham Mai, the Vice Chairwoman of the Shan Literature and Culture Association in Muse. She said that the trafficking situation would be less severe if the economy were better.

“Locals here have advantages with language skills and their ability to travel in and out of the region, so I think [trafficking] could ease a little once the economy gets better and there are more job opportunities. Traffickers usually lure [women away] with jobs, saying there’s a wage gap between our country and [China],” she said.

In an effort to educate the public about the dangers in trafficking, Muse district officials and civil society organizations launched their third annual anti-trafficking campaign on Friday, erecting billboards and holding a rally at the border crossing.

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There are [many] cases of human trafficking between Myanmar and China, and women are subjected to violence and forced marriages. Pixabay
“There are [many] cases of human trafficking between Myanmar and China, and women are subjected to violence and forced marriages. We need to protect them,” said Maung Maung Win, secretary general of the local YMCA.

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“As part of our campaign, we are having public rallies and activities like sports, music and entertainment to get the public to join our movement,” he said.

The local YMCA itself has been campaigning against human trafficking for nine years, but the secretary general said that public support and cooperation with authorities and other groups was necessary in order to stop the traffickers. “We have a better chance to succeed once the government and philanthropic organizations join together,” he said. (VOA)

Reported by Ye Htet for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Nandar Chann. Written in English by Eugene Whong.