India on US watch list

Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 17 — India has again been placed on Tier 2 Watch List by the US State Department because New Delhi failed to fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Internal forced labour may constitute India’s largest trafficking problem; men, women, and children in debt bondage are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories, said the US Human Trafficking Report 2009.

Although no comprehensive study of forced and bonded labour has been carried out, some NGOs estimate this problem affects tens of millions of Indians.

India is also a destination for women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.

The Report, however, lauded New Delhi’s efforts citing the instance of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, in tracking human trafficking violations saying government showed resolve to address the trafficking of Indian migrant workers. For example, in September 2008, the Government ordered an inquiry after reports surfaced of girls from North Eastern India being trafficked to Malaysia for sex work.

The Government arrested the travel agent, promptly rescued the girls and paid for their repatriation to India. NGOs reported in the past some Bangladesh victims of sex trafficking were pushed back across the without protection services.

During the reporting period, India worked closely with Bangladesh on resolving cross-border trafficking issues, including formally designating a government official to handle such issues during Home Secretary-level discussions in August 2008.

Men and women from Bangladesh and Nepal are trafficked through India for forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation in the Middle East. Over 500 Nepalese girls were jailed in the state of Bihar on charges of using false documents to transit India in the pursuit of employment in Gulf countries. Indian nationals travel to Nepal and within the country for child sex tourism.

The Ministry approved funding for at least 53 state projects benefiting more than 1,700 victims. Since August 2008, the Ministry provided the states of Manipur, Nagaland, Karnataka, Maharashtra and almost $243,000 for 18 projects at 12 rehabilitation centres.

Original at Assam Tribune

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