30,000 women pushed into sex slavery every year, conference in Mumbai to find ways to tackle it

Around 100 delegates from more than 20 countries are expected to participate in Mumbai

More than 30,000 women are pushed into sex slavery through trafficking every year in the country. To fight the menace, the Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) plans to form an international forum and hold a two-day conference in Mumbai on July 27 and 28.

Around 100 delegates from more than 20 countries are expected to participate.

MSCW chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar said, “We will form an international forum to create more awareness.”

The topics of discussion include women trafficking, its impact, victims and their rehabilitation, how to deal with the issue, best practices worldwide and need of stringent laws, among others.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari, Goa governor Mridula Sinha, Maharashtra DGP Satish Mathur, Goa DGP Muktesh Chander, Mumbai Police Commissioner Datta Padsalgikar are expected to attend the event.


100 Applications Received: For transgenders, IGNOU fee waiver gives new hope

Almost a month ago, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) decided to waive off tuition fees of transgender students, in an attempt to make higher education more accessible to them. Since then, the university has received at least 100 applications from transgender students — several for the Bachelor Preparatory Programme (BPP). The course is designed to help students who haven’t completed their 10+2 and want to do their graduation from IGNOU. The Indian Express spoke to three transgender students who have taken admission in various courses in IGNOU about their lives before this historic change in admission procedure and how they think their lives will change.

Course: MA in Gender and Development Studies

Riya was in Class X when her sexuality started becoming a problem for her family. Born as Rahul Sharma in Raghubir Nagar, her “feminine” mannerisms were fast becoming unacceptable for her father, a carpenter.

“My younger brother would tease me about the way I walked and my father tortured me a lot. When I completed Class XII, he threw me out of the house, calling me ‘Hijra’ and ‘chhakka’,” she says.

For a brief period, she stayed at the office of Mitr Trust — an NGO she’s still working with but when, in 2013, her father vandalised the office blaming them for making her a “Hijra”, she ran away to Mewat in Haryana to join a Hijra troupe for “toil badhai” – collecting money by giving blessings to newlyweds and newborns. However, her interest in education led her to enroll for BA Programme from the School of Open Learning (SOL) in DU, but as a man.

Studying about Gender, says Riya, is natural for her. “Had it not been for the fee waiver (Rs 9,000) I couldn’t have studied. I don’t make enough and my father wouldn’t give me a rupee. I want to become a teacher at a government school or college, and sensitise children about gender issues,” she says.

Course: MA, Political Science

Bebo, as she is known among friends, has not told her parents about her sexuality yet. “My parents don’t know about my sexuality, although they have problems with my feminine behavior. I want to become a makeup artist, but they want me to be “manly” and join the Army. I can’t tell them, because I’m scared,” says the Kareena Kapoor fan from Rohini. At home, she dresses in ‘men’s’ clothes, and even refrains from watching soaps on TV for fear of being tagged ‘gay’. But with her friends around, she feels comfortable and dresses in women’s clothes, dances and celebrates her real self.

“I studied in a government school, where not only students called me names, but even the teachers troubled me. They would ask me to explain homosexuality and everyone laughed. I had no friends,” she says. Similar experiences plagued her when she was doing her BA Programme from SOL, and frustrated, she stopped attending classes. She also worked at a call centre for Bikano, but regular taunts forced her to quit. IGNOU, she says, has given her a new lease of life. “I want to be a makeup artist, but I think it’s very important to be educated. I’m interested in doing an MPhil and PhD after this. The fee waiver really helps. I hope my identity card doesn’t mention my gender,” says Bebo.

Course: BA, Tourism Studies

Born as Nitesh Kumar in Janakpuri to parents who are government servants, Neetu works as a counsellor in Mitr Trust and has helped many parents, including her own, to accept and understand their child’s sexuality. But the road has not been easy — she had to leave her education and was put under house arrest. “I was in a co-ed private school till Class V but my father thought my ‘girly’ mannerisms were because I was hanging out with girls, so they shifted me to a government school. It was hell. “I had enrolled for BCom Programme in SOL, but during my second year, when I came out to my parents, they put me under house arrest,” she says. As time passed, her parents accepted her and even encouraged her to study. “When I got this opportunity from IGNOU, I grabbed it. I want to set an example for others from my community; I want them to know it’s important to be educated,” says Neetu.

Reality Check Of Madhya Pradesh Schools, At Top Of National Shame List

Bhopal: The Internet can’t agree if it was Irish poet WB Yeats who said education was lighting a fire and not filling a bucket. But for lakhs of students in Madhya Pradesh, this conundrum is thoroughly worthless.

These students go to schools where there is literally no light. In a reply to the Madhya Pradesh assembly last year, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government admitted that 70 years after independence, while the central government brags about electrifying more villages than any previous regime, there are still more than one lakh schools in the BJP-ruled state that do not have power.

Despicable scenes welcomed an NDTV team that visited the government schools in Madhya Pradesh’s Shajapur, Aagar-Malwa, Shyopur districts. Dilapidated buildings, leaky roofs and dingy rooms see dozens of eager students huddled on mats in front a patchy chalkboard flanked by a single teacher. Computer rooms and laboratories lie locked up and gathering dust.

There are more than 17,000 schools in Madhya Pradesh that have only one teacher. Accounting for one-sixth of “single-teacher” schools in India, the state tops a disgraceful list, showed a report tabled in the parliament last year. More than 50,000 teaching positions are still lying vacant across the state.

Amna Sultan, a primary teacher from Ukawata village, said, “I am posted here as Urdu teacher. But since we don’t have as many teachers, I have to teach English and Hindi also. We don’t have anyone for maths and science. We don’t have electricity, so we can’t operate computers.”

Manoj Sagar, an assistant teacher at the Bijanagri Secondary School, said, “We don’t have electricity for the past four-five years. We have written letters to authorities but nothing has been done so far.”

The students said they cannot study properly. Most have never seen computers in school. Despite the state government advertising its ‘Headstart’ programme launched in 2003 to prioritise computer education, students are yet to learn the basics of computers because of the lack of electricity.

To counter the dearth of regular teachers, the state government used to fill the gap by recruiting guest teachers but in this academic session even that system has been put on hold.

Madhya Pradesh education minister Vijay Shah said the state government will take a decision regarding the recruitment of guest teachers by October – six months into the ongoing academic year. “There are around 1.5 lakh schools, we have limited resources,” he said.

23% Indian women seek dignity, respect in maternal healthcare

NEW DELHI: In its campaign to understand the women’s want for improved maternal health in India, White Ribbon Alliance India steered the nation-wide campaign ‘Hamara Swasthya, Hamari Awaz’.

Reaching out to nearly 1,50,000 women across the country; seeking out their one-top most aspirations in terms of maternal healthcare, 23% women requested for dignity and respect in maternal healthcare.

The survey was conducted across 24 states and Union Territories. Women have seen improvement in maternal healthcare over the time and submitted their one wish as being treated in a respectful and dignified manner.

The notion of safe motherhood must be expanded beyond the prevention of morbidity or mortality to encompass respect for women’s basic human rights, including respect, dignity, choices, and preferences during maternity care.

Encouraging and empowering women to express their desire towards a safe maternal healthcare, 32241 women i.e. two out of every 10 women who participated desired for maternal health services imbibed with dignity and respect.

Out of the total 23% women seeking the dignity and respect, 18% women requested for respectful behaviour from the healthcare provider and 11% looked for equality based on religion and caste.

11% sought privacy while four percent requested for confidentiality during check-up and treatment. Seven percent requested for informed choice, counseling, and consent. Nine percent desired for timely admission and less waiting time for bed whereas 15% requested for provision of one bed per woman in the ward.

Seven percent also requested for provision for a birth companion, whereas five percent asked for one stretcher per woman. Eight percent would like to have fixed visiting hours and availability of visitor’s room to ensure privacy while remaining five percent women prioritized no sexual harassment by doctor or staff.

Dr. Aparajita Gogoi, National Coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance India said, “Our aim with Hamara Swashtya, Hamari Awaz was to amplify the voices of countless women to positively impact the quality of care. We have been consistently undertaking programs to support the Government’s efforts to improve the quality of care and maternal healthcare. We have observed that attitudes and behavior of maternal healthcare providers considerably influence service seeking behavior of expecting mothers, which in turn impacts the maternal mortality.”

The more women speak about their needs and priorities, the easier it will become for program implementers and policy makers to address their needs.

By puclmangalore Posted in Women

Over 1.25 lakh women trafficking cases in India last year

Kolkata, (IANS): There were 35,000 reported cases of child trafficking and 1,25,750 women trafficking cases in the country in 2016-17, with West Bengal topping in both categories, a senior National Anti-Trafficking Committee (NATC) official said here on Saturday.

“Among 35,000 reported cases of child trafficking, 13,000 were registered from West Bengal. In percentage terms, it comes to 37,” NATC Chairman Sk. Jinnar Ali told mediapersons on the sidelines of a meeting.

He said in terms of women trafficking, the eastern state accounted for nearly 42 per cent of the cases in the country.

The women victims were mostly trafficked to Mumbai, Chennai and Dubai, according to Ali.

He said in West Bengal, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Murshidabad districts recorded most of the women’s trafficking cases in the past one year.

The NATC, which held its state conference during the day, announced it would build six more schools for the trafficking victims, besides various other initiatives to curb trafficking.

“We have already started 19 schools in various districts of West Bengal for the women trafficking victims. Six more schools are coming up in Malda, Murshidabad and North 24 Parganas district this year in a bid to bring the victims back to mainstream society,” he said.

The initiatives are funded by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Ali said the trafficking victims recovered so far were being trained under the National Skill Development Programme (NSDP) of the central government.

“We have placed 25 people in West Bengal in various sectors after training since 2016,” he said.

Talking about the initiatives to curb trafficking in the state, the NATC Chairman said the statutory body was instituting a five member committee in each of the 23 districts. Representatives from police and state administration would be part of such panels.

The NATC will also have a toll free number and a mobile app for trafficking-related issues and grievances from July 28.

“We will also have block-level action committees in all the districts and conduct police station-level meeting at regular intervals to collect grassroots-level information about the nuances of trafficking,” Ali added.