Child welfare committee to be established in Tirupur

To prevent trafficking and exploitation of children

Panel will have a chairperson and four members, To be selected from social workers in district.

Tirupur: The Department of Social Defence is to set up a child welfare committee in the district to ensure protection and development of children from ‘significant harm’ through institutional and out-reach programmes.

Official sources told The Hindu that the Committee, comprising Chairperson and four members, would be constituted under the provisions of Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000, and its amended Act 2006 and Rules thereof.

The main role of the panel would be to tackle child trafficking and exploitation of children in the flesh trade.

The chairperson and members of the said Committee would be selected from among the social workers residing in the district.

To be selected, applicants should be actively involved in health education or welfare activities pertaining to children for at least seven years and holders of Bachelors degree from a recognized University.

“Preference will be given to people who have completed undergraduate degrees in subjects such as criminology, psychology, sociology, social work, economics, home science, education, political science, law, medicine and studies related to women and rural development,” sources said. The upper and lower age limit for selection had been fixed at 65 and 35 years.

The applications should be sent as soon as possible to the Directorate of Social Defence, 300, Purasawalkam High Road, Kellys, Chennai-10.

More details on the selection of candidates could also be obtained from the office of District Social Welfare Officer at Tirupur Collectorate (Telephone: 94430-43409).

R. Vimal Kumar – From THE HINDU

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It’s easy to buy babies at TN’s govt hospitals

About 18 months ago, doctors told Maruthayi, 39, (name changed) that she would not be able to deliver a baby. Today, she dotes on an 11-month-old boy, buying him clothes and toys and taking him to the doctor for his shots. She can’t imagine a life without him.

Maruthayi told The Times of India that she “purchased” the baby from a Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) hospital administrator but refused to divulge the amount she had paid. “I paid him in thousands. The biological mother would have got most of it,” she said.

Eight months ago, a TOI team went undercover and met the administrator who said he could find a baby for a “potential buyer”. In April, he was caught on camera saying he had found a woman who was due for delivery at the hospital in two months: “I know your number. I will call you after she has the delivery… negotiations will begin after that.” On Monday, in a telephonic conversation, he promised to close the deal by next week. The conversation has been recorded.

CHENNAI: Even as the Tamil Nadu police are currently working to unravel a child trafficking network spread across the state, it continues to be possible to buy a baby in Chennai. In fact, it would not be difficult to just walk in and steal one. And it’s not just at KMC that the task is so easy, government hospitals across the state have become the source for baby traffickers.

Ironically, almost every senior official, including Additional Director General of Police Archana Ramasundram and health secretary VK Subburaj, agree. Only two days ago, a woman lost her new-born at the Rajaji Medical College Hospital in Madurai. “Police traced the child and restored it to the parents,” says Subburaj.

Nearly 70% of all deliveries in the state take place at government hospitals, and most babies that are trafficked are from these hospitals. The cost of a baby ranges from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1.5 lakh. “Entry to government hospitals is not restricted, so security is a cause for concern. Government hospitals have no strict visiting hours. The campuses are huge. We need to evolve strategies to beef up security,” says ADGP Archana Ramasundram.

The hospitals also face the problem of corrupt grade-IV staff. “The staff demand money for every service, including getting x-rays and cleaning the woman in labour. They hit my daughter on her thighs while she was in labour. We were forced to give them money,” says Muthulakshmi, whose daughter was admitted to the Woman and Children Hospital in Chennai.

In almost every government hospital, staff are aware of brokers who actively participate in child trafficking. While some babies are abandoned or sold by poor parents, others are stolen.

From TOI

Statewide child trafficking ring busted, 4 held

CHENNAI: In a new twist to a child kidnapping racket busted recently, the Chennai suburban police on Saturday night arrested four women, who were part of the trafficking network and worked for a city-based fertility clinic, indicating the statewide ramifications of the case.

The women, including two ‘ayahs’ working in the hospital, are said to have identified buyers among patients who came to the clinic for treatment. While Nancy and Asha looked after the stolen babies, Kavitha, 33, and Andal, 47, identified a potential buyer for one of the babies.

The development adds another dimension to the child trafficking network, the second big one in recent times to be unearthed by the state police. In 2005, police had cracked an adoption racket involving an agency that sourced kidnapped babies and gave them away in adoption to couples abroad. CBI is still investigating the case. Police suspect that the latest case, involving a gang operating across TN, may have links to networks in other states as well.

Police confirmed that Saturday’s arrests were part of the child abduction racket that came to light when Krishnagiri police arrested seven members of a gang, most of them operating in Chennai and its suburbs. Deputy commissioner of police (Madhavaram), Annie Vijaya, told TOI, “The arrests are a continuation of the child trafficking racked busted in Krishnagiri (in May). We have been exchanging information with the Krishnagiri police and following up leads.”

It was in May that police first arrested several members of a gang and rescued nine babies from them. During interrogation of an accused, Dhanalakshmi, police found that several woman, posing as social workers, and a church priest, father Alphonse, believed to be the kingpin in the racket, were involved in an inter-state racket of stealing and selling babies to childless couples for price ranging from Rs 50,000 to a couple of lakhs of rupees. Those arrested included a woman, M Lalitha, a self-proclaimed social worker, running an orphanage in Puducherry. The woman used the unlicensed orphanage she ran to source babies and sell them to childless couples.

The alleged brain behind the four women arrested on Saturday, Jayaprasad, was picked up in Krishnagiri. Police also rescued two babies from the gang — an eight-month-old girl and a one-year-old baby boy. The children have been handed over to authorities of a government home.

From TOI

Unicef: One-third of world’s child brides from India – Reuters

MUMBAI, Oct 6 (Reuters) – More than a third of the world’s child brides are from India, leaving children at an increased risk of exploitation despite the Asian giant’s growing modernity and economic wealth, according to a UNICEF report.

Nearly 25 million women in India were married in the year 2007 by the age of 18, said the report released on Tuesday, which noted that children in India, Nepal and Pakistan may be engaged or even married before they turned 10. Millions of children are also being forced to work in harmful conditions, or face violence and abuse at home and outside, suffering physical and psychological harm with wide-reaching, and sometimes irreparable effects, the report said.

“A society cannot thrive if its youngest members are forced into early marriage, abused as sex workers or denied their basic rights,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman.

Despite rising literacy levels and a ban on child marriage, tradition and religious practices are keeping the custom alive in India, as well as in Nepal and Pakistan, the report said.

More than half the world’s child brides are in south Asia, which also accounts for more than half the unregistered births, leaving children beyond the reach and protection of state services and unable to attend school or access basic healthcare.

Only 6 percent of all births in Afghanistan and 10 percent in Bangladesh were registered from 2000-08, the report said, compared to 41 percent in India and 73 percent in the tiny Maldives.

Also, about 44 million, or 13 percent of all children in south Asia, are engaged in labour, with more than half in India.

Children in the region have also been seriously affected by insurgency and instability, as well as natural disasters.

Especially in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, past or ongoing conflicts have broken down most child protection systems, leaving children especially vulnerable, the report said.

Trafficking of children for labour, prostitution or domestic services is widespread, especially within Bangladesh and India, and within the region, as well as to Europe and the Middle East.

“Insufficient emphasis has been placed on protecting child victims of trafficking and ensuring that any judicial proceedings brought against them are child sensitive,” the report noted.

(Reporting by Rina Chandran; Editing by Alistair Scrutton) – Reuters

Unicef: Trafficking of minors in Malaysia remains rampant

PETALING JAYA: Child trafficking is still a serious threat in Malaysia despite the efforts of the government and aid agencies to stem the crime, says a Unicef report.

According to the study titled “Child Trafficking in East and South-East Asia: Reversing the Trend,” Malaysia has developed or amended laws and policies to combat child trafficking but enforcement has generally been weak.

It said this was due, in some part, to insufficient resources, limited capacities, poor coordination, or a lack of leadership.

Unicef regional director Anupama Rao Singh said one of the main problems was the grouping of child vulnerabilities into diverse categories, with separate programmes and approaches to tackle each.

“We have a situation now where there are dozens of child trafficking programmes in the region, but there are also dozens of child labour, sexual exploitation, child violence and neglect, and juvenile justice programmes as well.

“Yet, the core vulnerabilities that put children at risk in these situations should really be addressed together rather than separately,” she said after the report was released at the Pacific Trafficking in Persons Forum, held in Wellington, New Zealand, last week.

Child trafficking is a major concern across South-East Asia due to various factors including internal conflict as well as a demand for child prostitutes, pornography and cheap labour. The countries here are both source and destination centres for child trafficking.

In Malaysia, the persisting issues are the sizable population of refugee and migrant children, and stateless children who are vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking due to inadequate protective laws and policies.

“It is time to stop confronting trafficking as a separate issue and address it more systematically along with other child protection issues,” said Anupama.

The study, which assessed child trafficking programmes in seven Asian countries, including Malaysia, showed that a new approach was needed to confront not only child trafficking, but also other related forms of abuse and exploitation.

The other countries were China, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The study noted that a great deal had been accomplished in this region in generating bilateral, multilateral and transnational cooperation, as well as developments in legislative and policy reform.

Unicef said the study concluded that what was required was the development of national child protection systems within countries, similar to the creation of effective health systems decades ago.

By HARIATI AZIZAN – THE STAR