Thursday, May 18, 2006

Echoes of the Participants in the Guwahati Workshop on Rethinking Rights, Justice and Development in India

April 20-23, 2006
The papers presented in the conference ‘Rethinking Rights, Justice and Development in India’ give an insight into the prevailing conditions of violation of basic human rights of various groups of people by the state itself and also by militant organizations because of ethnic conflict.
The papers in common go on to show how the most vulnerable groups like the poorest of the poor, the tribal people, people affected by natural disasters, workers in the unorganized sector have to bear the brunt of the failure of the state to provide good governance when in fact it’s priority should be to safeguard the rights of these most vulnerable sections of society.

Rethinking Rights, Justice and Development in the Northeast; A Reflection on Nagas Experience
by Imcha Imchen

This presentation looks into the Nagas’ demand for complete autonomy and secession from the Union of India. The writer in order to facilitate an understanding of the issue provides an insight into the history of the Naga Homeland, and the injustice and problems faced by the Naga people. The entire Naga Homeland had been arbitrarily divided into various states for administrative purposes without the consent of the people in the colonial regime. The Myanmar and the Indian government instead of rectifying this legitimized the divisions. The Naga Homeland was divided and half of it now lies in Myanmar and half in India. In India the Nagas are further spread over Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. The Nagas had declared their independence on 14 August 1947 and when the Union of India was formed in 1950 on the voluntary basis, the Nagas chose not to join. The writer thus says that the Nagas have a right to complete independence. The writer also looks into the misuse of the ‘Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958’ by the army and how it has led to gross violation of basic human rights. According to the writer one of the fundamental reasons why the people in the northeast feel alienated is the attitude of the central government towards development in the northeast, however he also blames the local politicians for the misuse of the development funds. The writer has acknowledged the support being provided to various movements in the northeast by civil societies and intellectuals and also stresses its importance. Attention is drawn to the fact as to how the whole Naga movement has undergone a change from an earlier demand, which completely overlooked India to now where negotiations are being carried with the central government. Finally the writer states that the various problems in the northeast have different solutions because of different demands – while certain states want more autonomy while others want more attention in terms of development, however neither of the two would be the solution to the Naga problem since the Nagas want complete independence.

Displacement in West Bengal
By Nandini Basistha

This paper looks into the irony of ‘Development’ wherein for the so-called overall development of society, the basic rights of the most vulnerable groups are violated.
Like most other governments, the government of West Bengal too views industrialization and modernization as the most important means of development and so to encourage this large scale displacement has occurred for building dams, highways, airports, new towns etc. Urban planning in Kolkata has led to the displacement of the poorest of the poor e.g. the ‘New Town’ Project of Rajarhat has displaced small and landless farmers and fisherman. It is alleged that dams which have caused widespread displacement have failed the purpose for purpose for which they were constructed i.e. control floods, it is claimed by residents that over the years the intensity of floods in the lower Damodar has increased. Thus in the name of development thousands of people have been deprived of their basic right to shelter and livelihood. India being a welfare state ought to provide economic security for the population by providing for the people when they are unemployed, ill or elderly. Instead of doing so, in spite of the unemployment rate being high, the government of West Bengal resorted to evicting hawkers from streets. In 1996 ‘Operation sunshine’ evicted 24000 hawkers. It even led to some of them committing suicide. Thus the so-called development process involves the violation of the rights of the most vulnerable groups of people.

The Question of Democracy in Manipur
By Ayangbam Shyamkishor

This article looks into the failure of representative democracy in Manipur in every aspect.
In spite of over five decades of democracy in Manipur, accountability, transparency, responsibility, peace, stability is still a far cry. The very foundation of democracy i.e. the election process is not carried on in accordance with law and is marked by practices like rigging and booth capturing, influence of muscle and money power. Another common practice is the boycotting of elections by various insurgent groups. The law and order problem in Manipur has been a perpetual one. In fact disorder and violence has become a way of life. The main reason for weak governance is the presence of a large number of powerful militant insurgent groups. It is alleged that the militant groups even overpower the government, to the extent that they collect taxes from government departments. In order to control insurgency the Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 has been imposed in the state. In spite of the several instances of its misuse by the armed forces, the army maintains that the repealing of the Act would render them powerless to deal with the problem of insurgency. In terms of the economy Manipur still remains by and large an underdeveloped state. Agriculture the mainstay of the economy is still dependent on rainfall. The state depends on other states for most of the essential items of consumption.
A sizeable percentage of the population lives below the poverty line and there is widespread unemployment. To add to the economic crisis the government of Manipur is running the state with deficits of hundreds of crores of rupees, all due to financial mismanagement. Corruption is rampant in the state, and is a major cause of discontent, which has given rise to the involvement of militant organizations in getting rid of the corruption in bureaucracy and government. Thus democracy in Manipur has failed to fulfill any of its objectives. It has failed to provide political stability, good governance, control corruption, promote accountability and above all establish rule of law. The successful working of democracy requires participation of people in the decision making process, electing responsible leaders; it requires responsible leaders who would work for the development of the state. It is essential for the development of the state, that its resources be used properly so as to put an end to unemployment and poverty. The problem of insurgency should be solved through peaceful negotiations and corruption must be checked in accordance with law.

Echoes from flash flood victims: A case study of Balbala flash flood
By Shahiuz Zaman Ahmed

This article presents a detailed description of the flash flood, which occurred between the 7th and 9th October 2004 and affected the areas of Krishnai, Balbala and Agai, and the various relief measures taken post flood, the writer finally puts forth suggestion with regard to such disasters in future. The flood-affected areas were low-lying areas and hence flood prone. However of late tremendous environmental changes had taken place around the area due to deforestation for several purposes. Another reason for the flood was that Pancharatna-Kamakhya railroad lacked sufficient culverts and bridges to pass water to the river Brahmaputra. The tributaries of various rivers had no proper embankments to check floods either. The flood caused tremendous destruction of human lives, settlements, flora and fauna. Villages were totally washed out. The efforts made by the Indian army did manage to save a lot of lives. The official records put the number of the dead as 218, however there are claims that the real figures are much higher. One important point with this regard is that a large number of the inhabitants of the flood-affected areas had come from other flood-affected areas earlier on, and hence as per UN’s guiding principles, these inhabitants were Internally Displaced Persons. Their names were not even recorded with the district administration, and hence their death was not even acknowledged and this went against the UN principles related to Internally Displaced Persons. Various relief measures were taken but they were far from sufficient. The writer makes a comparison between the flash flood and the tsunami and says how the flash received very less importance. The improper implementation of the monetary assistance scheme of the government has also been looked into as to how several victims and relatives of the dead have still not received compensation due to the corrupt officials. The Internally Displaced Persons who had resettled in the flood-affected areas were refused compensation because they were not registered with the local administration on the ground that they were suspected be illegal migrants, and hence had to face unnecessary harassment. The flood led to complete impoverishment of the people and rehabilitation measures by the government are a must. The health and living conditions of the people is much below reasonable standards and hence requires various measures by the government. The writer puts forth various suggestions to prevent such a disaster in the future: massive forestation, controlled deforestation, construction of embankments, setting up mechanisms to forecast such disasters etc. and most important of all issuing of identity cards to the IDP’s in the state so as to enable safeguarding their rights and to prevent depriving them of their rights because of doubt over their citizenship.

A Brief Study on Human Rights Violations in Wokha District and its adjoining areas
By Ayamo Kikon

This paper is a case study of violations of human rights in Wokha district (situated in the mid west of the state of Nagaland). Certain instances of human rights violations have been cited with a view to create awareness about such happenings. The first incident cited took place at Yimpang village on March 3, 1997. This particular incident is an instance of human rights violation by the armed forces. The NSCN armed opposition groups were taking shelter in the village. The 16th Rashtriya Rifles troops arrived at the village and fired indiscriminately and in the process a pregnant woman and two civilians were killed. The villagers were also mishandled by the armed forces. The second incident cited involved a bomb explosion in a passenger bus, which was bound for Wokha from Dimapur. In this incident several people lost their lives. Regular frisking and house checking are common practices associated with security operations. These security operations do not respect the privacy of the people and have caused great trauma to the local inhabitants.

Resisting Development: A Case Study of the Pagladia Dam Project
By Barnalee Chowdhury

Development based displacement is based on the premise that someone has to suffer if the nation is to prosper. However it is always the poor and the marginalized that are made victims in the process of development. The state is vested with unquestionable power to carry on development, however of late sections of society and the affected people have begun to question government decisions with regard to development. One such example is the movement against the Pagladia Dam Project, which is to be constructed at Thalkuchi village in Assam. It is a multi purpose project that aims to serve several development objectives. However at the same time the dam will submerge 38 settled villages thereby displacing a large number of people most of whom are tribal people. The Brahmaputra Board, which is the implementing agency of the project, has drawn up a Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R &R) package. The package however is not acceptable to the people for several reasons. As per the R & R only 18,473 persons will be displaced however the number exceeds much more than that. People who do not possess proper ownership documents will also not be entitled to compensation. Thus because of these grievances the people started a movement in the year 1968. The organization is called Pagladia Bandh Prakalpar Ksatigrastha Alekar Sangram Samiti. The other grievances of the people are that the place to be given to them for resettlement is already occupied by other people, and their entry may lead to conflict. Resettlement would scatter the people in different areas and it would result in community breakdown. It is also alleged that the land being given to them for resettlement is not that fertile. The dam would also submerge a lot of schools, religious institutions. The R & R package does not provide for sufficient reconstruction of the same. The people for the various reasons have protested against the government on several occasions, however these democratic protests have always been suppressed through violent means. Thus instead of addressing the grievances of the affected people the government brutally suppresses protests against it. The media has failed to give coverage to this issue, which involves the rights o f thousands of people. The movement is an example of how people have learnt to resist state action even if it is taken in the name of development, and thus going on to show that development processes can’t ignore the rights of those who are made to sacrifice for development.

Human Rights Issues in Tamenglong District of Manipur
By N.Atungbou

This paper looks into instances of human rights violations by the armed forces and the militant groups in the district of Tamenglong, which is located in west Manipur. Since the late 70s and 80s people in the district have been subjected to torture and violence because of the abuse of the Armed Forces Act by the Para-military forces. In 1997, in Tousem sub-division the Para-military personnel tortured the entire village. In 2000 the Jat regiment shot at nine persons. In 1993 an ethnic conflict broke out in the district between the Kukis and the Zeliangrong Nagas, it lasted for four years and several people died. The state government played a partisan role and failed to intervene and control the situation then. However in the course of time the conflict came to an end. There have also been several instances of violence by armed opposition groups.

The Internally Displaced Persons of Lower Assam
By Subhash Barman

This paper looks into the displacement caused due to the Bodo movement, in lower Assam. Amongst the various groups of victims, this paper looks at the special case of the Santals. The Santals of lower Assam are the ex-displaced of the colonial regime that were evicted from their homeland Chotanagpur and were brought to Assam to provide cheap labour for the plantations. The Santals have been marginalized over the years. The Bodo movement finally led to their complete deprivation. The Bodos are the largest tribal community of Assam. The Assamese high castes have always dominated the society, polity and bureaucracy in Assam and this led to the marginalization of the Bodos, which led to their demand for the division of Assam for the creation of a separate ‘Bodoland’. The movement turned violent and it finally led to legislation in 1993 and the Bodoland Autonomous Council was formed. However in the areas under the BAC, the Bodos did not form the majority and hence started the process of ethnic cleansing to create a Bodo majority. The marginalized sections and the Santals became targets of this ethnic cleansing. Initially the immigrant Muslims were targeted, later on the Santal peasants were primarily targeted. The cleansing was carried out by militant organizations. There were large-scale massacres in which about 1000 Santals lost their lives and about 2,50,000 were rendered homeless. The displaced have been living in the relief camps in Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar districts. The living conditions in these camps are miserable and unhygienic. The ration provided by the government is insufficient and there are no provisions for drinking water. There are no provisions for education or health facilities. Moreover there is no sufficient security arrangement and hence there is always the threat of attack by the militant organizations. The government has taken no measures to promote peace so that the displaced can return home. Other people have occupied the lands of the few who returned. The government has not done anything with this regard either.

Brus in Mizoram
By Irene Lalruatkimi

The Bru/Reang tribes were original inhabitants of Mai-an hill near the Chittagong Hill Tract, Bangladesh. They migrated from their homeland to Tripura from where they were ousted by the king and then they finally settled in Mizoram. The Brus were a minority in the state of Mizoram. Most of them were illiterate and hence the government of Mizoram took steps to uplift the Brus. The Christian missionaries too played a role in this regard.
Education gave rise to community consciousness amongst the Brus and they organized themselves into the Reang Democratic Convention Party in 1990, with a view to safeguard their culture, custom, language and to promote the development of the community. The political consciousness ultimately led to the demand for a separate autonomous district. This demand was not acceptable to the Mizos and they protested against this and thus began the tension between the Mizos and the Brus. The Bru leaders ordered the Brus to leave their homes. The Brus formed the militant group called the Bru National Liberation Front and carried out violent activities. Several Bru families left for Tripura. Brus from Assam and Manipur also joined them. The Mizoram government tried to convince the Bru refugees to return to their homes and also made arrangements for their rehabilitation and security. Under these conditions a few Brus returned, while the majority chose to stay in the Tripura refugee camps.

Land Alienation in Tripura – A Case Study of the Tribals
By Sushil Debbarma

This paper looks into the land alienation of the tribal people in Tripura. It looks into the failure of the state to prevent land alienation and how the state is in fact actively causing land alienation. The TLR & LR Act 1960, imposes restrictions on transfer of tribal land to non-tribals without prior permission from the collectors. There is also a provision for the restoration of tribal lands that were transferred to non-tribals on or after 1st January 1969. However in spite of the law a very few restoration cases have been disposed off, and most of the land that ought to have been restored, remains unrestored. A major flaw of the Act is that it does not recognize the customary shifting cultivation, and all such land is recorded as forestland. The government of Tripura has been using tribal land for the rehabilitation of the refugees. The Dhumbur/Gumoti hydel project in south Tripura has displaced a lot of tribal people, moreover most of these communities are Jhumians and have no land records and hence the rehabilitation policy did not benefit them.In 1948 the Swasti Samity, a cooperative society of the non-tribal landless farmers was set up. For the setting up of this society hundreds of tribals were evicted from their homes without any rehabilitation. It can be said that the state has not only failed to prevent land alienation of the tribals but is in fact actively responsible for it.

Internally Displaced Persons: Nagas in Manipur
By Pongdeila

This paper looks into the internal displacement of the Nagas in Manipur. The Manipur Nagas lived in the four hill districts of Chandel, Tamenglong, Ukhrul and Senapati. They were displaced from these districts because of the Naga-Kuki ethnic crisis, and the movement by the Meiteis to drive out the Nagas from Manipur. The violence directed against the Nagas led to their displacement. A few civil societies and organizations did take steps for their rehabilitation but it is alleged that the government suppresses various efforts made by them. The Nagas live in fear and doubt as to whether they can ever return to their homes.

Boom in the Construction Sector of Pune
By Manish Kumar

This paper looks into the miserable conditions under which the construction labourers work in the city of Pune, in spite of the fact that there has been a huge boom in the construction sector and the labour force is a major contributor to the growth of the city. The boom in the construction sector of Pune has come about because of the growth in the IT sector and Pune has been declared as a computer hub city. The second reason is the market hike. Lastly huge investments are being made because of increasing market demand and also because of the presence of black money in the economy. Indirect foreign investment is also being made. This growth in the construction sector has led to tremendous increase in the demand for construction workers. Migrant labourers from the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand have also increased. With the growth of the sector the problems faced by the construction workers have also increased. Men and women still don’t get equal pay for equal work. Occupation and social security is almost nil. Only a miniscule percentage of the builders provide safety measures like helmets, gloves. In fact facilities are not provided as should be as laid down by the Pune Municipal Corporation. Few builders provide group insurance, which has proved not to be too helpful either. There are no health care facilities available. There are also no facilities for the education of the children of the labourers. In the midst of all the profit that is being made, the major contributors are being denied their due basic share.

A case of rights and displacement on the subansiri lower
Hydroelectric power project (SLP)
By Tarikh Kamcham

This paper looks into the rights and displacement on the lower subansirihydro electric power cooperation (NHPC) Ltd.which lies on the inter state boundary between Assam and Arunachal pradesh . That is why there is a longstanding dispute between the two states over the land on which the project site is located. The subansiri lower hydroelectric power cooperation (NHPC) Ltd., which was under initial survey and investigation by the Brahmaputra flood control board (BFCB), was transferred to NHPC Ltd by the MOWR, GOI ON 23RDmarch 2000. Thereafter the project has been under the NHPC till date. The hon’blesupreme court of India, while according consent vide order dated 19thapril, 2004 to the MOWR, GOI for the forest and environmental clearance of the project, stipulated certain stringent conditions which interalia, included:
1) The reserve forest that forms part of the catchments of lower subansiri including the reservoir should be declared as national park \sanctuary.
2) There would be no construction of dam of upstream of the Subansiri River in future
The forest department government of Arunachal pradesh intimated the MOWR, GOI of the compliance of the state government, to the above conditions as recommended by Indian board for wild life. The order of supreme court had very serious implications upon the state government such as, immense difficulty involving huge displacement of indigenous people by virtue of declaration of national park / wild life sanctuary which would have far reaching socio politico economic ramifications .the execution of the project remained suspended as per the cabinet decision as the project is located in a sensitive boundary involving boundary dispute for which the matter is being heard by the honorable supreme court . This project remained suspended for a quite a long time till a long term settlement is materialized and a formal MOW is signed with the state government by the Nhpc Ltd.

Chandigarh Conference

February 13-15, 2006
The Centre for the Study of Mid-West and Central Asia, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India and Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence, University of Tampere, Finland jointly organised an international conference on Revisting ‘Euro-Asia’: Cultures, Connections and Conceptualizations during February 13-15, 2006 at the ICSSR Complex located in the Panjab University Campus of Chandigarh. The InternationalGeographical Union and the World Commission of Political Geography sponsored the conference. Scholars from India, Malaysia and Finland took part in this conference. Professor K.N. Pathak, Vice Chancellor of Panjab University welcomed the participants. Before the formal deliberations began, Dr. Jyrki Kakonen, Jean Monnet Professor, University of Tampere introduced the conference. His Excellency Asko Numminen, Ambassador of Finland to India, delivered the inaugural address while Professor Siddiq Wahid, Vice Chancellor, Islamic University of Technology, delivered the keynote address. Dr. Sanjay Chaturvedi, Honorary Director of the host Centre offered a vote of thanks at the end of the inaugural session. The Calcutta Research Group (CRG) sponsored two sessions of this conference. One was on “Nations, Migration and Citizenship: European-Indian Experiences”, and the other was on “Citizenship, Migration and Autonomy: Gender Perspectives”. Dr. Bishnu Mohapatra of the Ford Foundation, New Delhi, chaired the first one. Dr. Samir Kumar Das and Dr. Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury spoke on behalf of the CRG. Dr. Das presented a paper on “Contesting Citizenship in an Age of Forced Migration: Two Case Studies from India”. He primarily dealt with the experiences of the Assam Movement (1979-85) and Gorkhaland Movement (1986-88). Dr. Basu Ray Chaudhury presented a paper on “Being and Belongingness: Democratic Citizenship in South Asia”. He offered a critical account of the exclusionary tensions of citizenship in South Asia and examined how the trans-national social spaces emerging in the context of migratory and refugee flows over the years have put pressures on the democratic character of the post-colonial states ans societies in the region. Dr. Mika Altola of the University of Tampere spoke on “Corporate Communities of Practices and Homogenizing Pressures of Globalization”. In the other session sponsored by the CRG, Dr. Paula Banerjee spoke on “Women’s Autonomy in the Age of Migration and Security”. She addressed the questions related to women’s autonomy in India and analysed its location within different available discourses. Professor Rajesh Gill of the Department of Sociology, Panjab University, presented a paper entitled “Caught between the Domestic and Public Spheres: Women as a Pendulum”. Ms. Anna-Kaisa Heikkinen, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Finland in India, chaired this session. Dr. Ranabir Samaddar, Director, CRG, delivered the Valedictory Address at the end of the three-day conference. He spoke on the immigration and the possibilities of trans-national citizenship. His lecture was a take on Etienne Balibar’s We the People of Europe. Dr. Samaddar also chaired a session earlier, which was on “New Great Games and Beyond” and it mainly dealt with the emerging geopolitical scenario in Euro-Asia.

Trafficking of Women & Children in Nepal

Shreyashi Chaudhuri
Trafficking in women and children is considered as a contemporary form of slavery and a gross violation of women’s and children’s basic human rights by the international community. It is also a growing phenomenon internationally, regionally and nationally. While trafficking is a global problem and an integral part of the process of international migration, it does assume specific regional and national dimensions. The increasingly protectionist policies of countries of destination which also constitute the labour receiving countries and the subsequent restriction on legal forms of migration, as well as the growing economic crisis with increasing unemployment, play a major role in the growing incidence of trafficking of women and children within the Asia-Pacific and specifically within the South Asian region.Trafficking in persons is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons, by any form of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, and abuse of power. This involves the giving or receiving of payments, or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for exploitation. (UN article 3 of Trafficking Protocol) “Women, who make up 51 percent of the total population in Nepal, have a secondary status in the patriarchic (sic) Hindu structure. Throughout their lives, women face reduced opportunities and discrimination. Literacy rates and life expectancy are much lower for women than men. Some say that lack of investment on education and development of women, which is an outcome of patriarchal predominance, is a major cause of vulnerability. The 1991 Nepalese census shows that only 25.54 per cent women were literate. One of the reasons for such a low rate of female education is that “the traditional attitude of the family, which requires girls to work rather than attend school. The higher female work burden in rural areas demonstrates that girl children are an active labour force in agriculture.” Many laws are explicitly biased against women, especially those regarding property, citizenship and marriage. Women are frequently prosecuted for having abortions, which were illegal until very recently. Women often face domestic violence and harassment, with no legal recourse, as paternalism and gender discrimination is deeply entrenched in society. Also the social system teaches women “subordination to males from childhood.” Such value systems deny women any options. Hence many rural women fall prey to the traffickers and trafficking of Nepali women has assumed horrifying proportions.Due to lack of adequate studies it is difficult to identify all the different ways in which trafficking is carried out. There is more than one way of trafficking. The existence of the circumstances created by the anti-women nature of the sex market creates an atmosphere characterised by the deception, use of drugs, enticement, abduction, fake marriages, misuse of guardianship etc.
A few current trafficking activities can be summed up as follows:
The problem of trafficking is no longer confined to specific ethnic communities. In the past the problem was confined to a limited catchments area surrounding the Kathmandu valley. Over the last few years it has rapidly expanded to over 30 districts in Nepal.
The information gathered from the interviews and stories of rescued girls and women demonstrate that girls and women from socially oppressed and backward community are increasingly vulnerable.
The diversification of the destination is also a troubling new aspect of trafficking. Gulf countries are fast becoming a destination for the sexual exploitation of Nepalese women.
Trafficking of increasingly large number of teenage girls as opposed to women is another new and disturbing pattern.
Trafficking is increasingly an act of organised criminal rackets operating from both inside and outside of Nepal.
Based on recently reported trafficking trends it is apparent that the problem of trafficking in girls and women has increasingly crossed the barriers of ethnicity and mountain geography. The problem of trafficking for sexual exploitation is now happening in numerous communities. This is corroborated by the appearance of a large number of Dalit girls & women in the market. The incidents of trafficking in Brahmin, Chettri & Newar girls and women are also increasing. There are two major factors responsible for the increasing numbers of girls and women being trafficked in Nepal:
The village to city migration process has become common phenomenon in Nepal over the decades. The main intention of migration is to earn money to provide the basic necessities for the family. The process of migration has contributed to the multi billion dollar sex industry with the massive migration of women and girls for purposes of legitimate work in Nepalese cities and abroad, trafficking has been facilitated through such means as promised by agents of the sex trade of high paying jobs or marriages. Trafficking is now the packaging, the marketing, in short the commodification of the women, which has become systematised, organised and trans nationalised. Rapid urbanisation and job prospects entice teenage girls to migrate to cities in Nepal. They seek work in the carpet industry, garment industry, restaurants and domestic service. These unsuspecting girls arrive in cities and one coerced into the sex trade. Cities such as Kathmandu, Pokhra, Dharan are serving as transit centres for trafficking abroad. Such migration is an expected outcome of development activities including increased accessibility to transportation, communication and business activities between villages and cities.
The gradual erosion of the traditional norms of the social regulation has resulted in more heterogeneity in cultural and social relations. In the past the homogenous clusters of the villages maintained a system of regulation based on traditional hierarchy and co-operation. Every group kept track of and cared for its own members. With greater mobility over the decades the homogeneity of villages has been diminished. Individuals are thus less aware of what is happening to the people who live nearby. The failure by the police and governing bodies, in general, to address these changing conditions has created a breakthrough of the traditional regulatory norms. This societal structure breakdown has helped traffickers gain a foothold in various community groups.
Political instability in Nepal has compounded the problem. The conflict between the Maoists and the State has contributed to increasing instability. Recent newspaper reports also reveal how women are particularly vulnerable to such harassments. In a news item published in the month of May this year in Kathmandu Post it was stated that one woman of “Tehrathum fled to Kathmandu after Maoists coerced her to join their militia. Her pursuit for secure life in the valley was wrecked after her colleagues sold her to a brothel in Mumbai.” Although she was rescued with five other Nepali girls no one knows whether she can be rehabilitated in her own society.
When women are trafficked across borders such as from Nepal to India it makes them even more insecure. After crossing a border these women can become stateless if they are without any papers or proof of citizenship. Often they are coerced to do so to repay their family loan. It has been stated “about 153,000 Nepali girls were in Indian brothels in 1990 and the number has been steadily increasing at a rate of 5,000 every year.” Nepal is considered as the most significant source of girl-child commercial sex workers to India. The average age of Nepali girls entering into Indian brothels ranges from 10 to 14. “In this era of globalisation, tourism has become another occasion for child trafficking from Nepal. Although Nepal has passed the Human Trafficking (Control) Act of 1986 these Acts are hardly ever implemented. Trafficking of Nepali women to India continue unabated. A very disturbing phenomena within this process is that young Nepali “virgins” are trafficked because people not only prefer their fairer complexion but also there is a ridiculous but common belief among some communities that having intercourse with a young girl can cure many sexually transmitted diseases as well as AIDS. So price for these girl children go up. But the moment they contract the illness they are thrown out of the brothel and come back to their homes where their family is often loathe in taking them back. These children are often oblivious of the risk they are in. According to one social worker in J.J. Hospital in Bombay “one 15 bedded women ward was occupied with 13 patients with HIV infection, out of this 11 were Nepali.” What people in sex trade do not realize is that trafficking is not merely violence against women but against humanity. These young girls living in brothels are so powerless that they can hardly insist that their clients use safety measures. Once they contract the disease they inadvertently infect many more and contribute to destabilization and insecurity of the whole region. Once there illness is discovered they are treated like pariahs. They are punished for something over which they had hardly any control and yet the process continues. Trafficking finds little space in traditional security discourse yet it is one mode of migration that actually leads to physical insecurity of a region.
The increased success on the part of traffickers has resulted from these recent societal changes. Mobility and the resulting social breakdown have tended to marginalize the weaker sectors of the community. Migration and mobility detach girls and women from their traditional framework of protection, and exposes them to an unfamiliar world. This makes them extremely vulnerable. In summation
Poverty and lack of resources results in an increase in migration and mobility.
In Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka child marriage is accepted, and considered. the best method to procure girls for prostitution. (Indrani Sinha, SANLAAP, “Paper on Globalisation & Human Rights”.) Parents sell their daughters and husbands get rid of their young unwanted wives forUS$200 to $600. Depending on her beauty, a girl can fetch anywhere from less than a water buffalo, to slightly more than a video recorder. Organizers in rural areas, brokers and even family members sell girls. Husbands sometimes sell their wives to brothels. (Tim McGirk, “Nepal’s Lost Daughters, ‘India’s soiled goods,” Nepal/India: News, 27 January 1997)
In Nepal, there is a system, called “deukis,” where by rich childless families buy girls from poor rural families and offer them to the temples as though they were their own. These girls are forced into prostitution. In 1992, 17,000 girls were given as deukis. (Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Report on Violence Against Women, Gustavo Capdevila, IPS, 2 April 1997)
Intensified migration and mobility causes a breakdown of the traditional norms and social regulations.
The process of migration and mobility is especially unfavourable for marginalised girls and women in the sense that they, being ignorant of the circumstances around them and not having the security of communal protection become easily accessible to sex traders.
Economic needs and hopes of a better life render marginalized women and girls easy targets.
As for the response of the Government of Nepal to the issue of trafficking it may be said that certainly, greater political has been demonstrated particularly over the last couple of years to address this problem. This response has in part been spawned by pressure put on the government by the public discourse on the issue created by NGOs, community and women’s organisations, the media, INGOs, the UN system as well as by members of the civil society. However, mostly of these very recently initiated responses are either still in the planning stage or are awaiting financial commitments from various donors to actually get off the ground. As such, limited concrete and demonstrable activity is actually visible on part of the Government of Nepal thus far to combat the problem of trafficking even though several plans are in the pipeline.
The key strategies-cum-objectives are being recommended for future anti-trafficking work on basis of the assessment in this study:

1.Initiate and intensify work to reach agreement and deeper understanding on rights protective strategies for designing and implementing anti-trafficking work.
2.Statistical data on those affected by trafficking in all sites
3.Traffickers and their modus operandi
4.Changing trends, patterns, forms of trafficking and those trafficked
5.Development and assessment of strategies and programmes
6.Development of rights based models of intervention in prevention, recovery, repatriation and reintegration of those affected by trafficking
7.Develop legal countermeasures, which vindicate the rights of abused and trafficked persons, and do not recriminalize them further.
8.Develop guidelines to separate legislation for trafficking from prostitution laws.

Victimisation of female migrants from Bangladesh

Catelijne Mittendorff
Nari pacahar, also known as trafficking of women, has attracted a tremendous amount of attention within the Bangladeshi media and civil society groups during recent years. Certain sources state that as many as fifty women and children are reportedly taken out of Bangladesh every day, and sold into forced prostitution, organ trade or slave labour. All this media attention has prompted the Bangladeshi authorities to enact restrictions, often an outright ban, on the international migration of women. For example, since 1976 the government of Bangladesh has barred certain categories of unskilled or semi-unskilled female workers from working overseas. This ban was relaxed in 1988 to be re-imposed in 1997. Female migration has consequently been pushed underground and has become an illegal practise. This policy restricting female migration is remarkable given the fact that Bangladesh is a labour-exporting nation. It is one of the densest populated countries in the world and the remittance migrant workers send home is a large source of income for the country. Therefore, the government of Bangladesh has always been a great supporter of male labour migration. Taking into account the economic disadvantages of such a ban, the decision to enact such a restriction must have been taken in an attempt to protect Bangladeshi women from exploitation and trafficking. But the question can be raised whether this policy achieves the intended result and made Bangladeshi women less vulnerable for trafficking? There is in fact little known about female migration from Bangladesh. Recently, however, an extensive study has been conducted where it became apparent that far more female migratory movement takes place than official numbers suggest. This study also made clear that female migration is larger and more varied than suggested by the trafficking scenario on which the media and NGOs have focused so much of their attention. Often the preconceived notion exists that migratory movement takes place predominantly under coercion, or when women lose control and other people take advantage of them, whereas this is not always the case. While risks of exploitation are considerable, the earnings women make abroad are impressive as well. Many female migrant workers have returned to Bangladesh with substantial savings, an enhanced sense of well-being and greater confidence in their ability to take decisions and cope autonomously. It is important in this context to understand the concept of 'trafficking', and how women become targets for traffickers. It is also essential to make a distinction between ‘trafficking’ and irregular female migration. The difference between irregular migration and trafficking is repeatedly a matter of perception and the generalisations in identifying the two concepts can be misleading. Often if the migratory process goes well, people consider it to be migration and if it does not go well that it is trafficking. In addition, it is generally assumed that if a girl wanted to migrate herself, she can not be trafficked, whereas this is not necessarily true. A working group of various civil society organisations within Bangladesh have defined the concept of human trafficking as “a wide range of crimes and human rights abuses associated with the recruitment, movement and sale of people into exploitative or slave-like situations.” This means that trafficked women do not necessarily need to be involved in the sex/ entertainment industry, as often is assumed. One can say that the fundamental problem of trafficking is the loss of control, “where women lose their freedom to control what they want to do because they fall under the influence of dept bondage, coercion, force or threats”, we can speak of trafficking. Most often people are of the perception that trafficked girls are kidnapped, taken away from their homes and completely against their will. Although this sometimes happens, in most of the cases a girl will decide to go along with the trafficker herself or under pressure from her family. Traffickers will look for girls from poor and vulnerable families in villages and tempt them and their parents with offers of lucrative jobs, a good marriage or a comfortable life in neighbouring countries. Only when they have taken her over the border and reach her final destination will she find out what kind of circumstances she is forced to work in. Society is a big factor in the vulnerability of women to become a trafficking victim. In Bangladesh, the migration of women, especially unaccompanied by guardians, is often regarded as suspect, for the reason that a woman moving independently is socially not accepted. “This can lead to a exploitative situation for women in which the slightest sexual deviation or social dislocation makes them ‘polluted’ and the object of social degradation.” In many cases, women migrating independently will lead to loss of honour for her family. This places women in Bangladesh in a very difficult position. On the one hand, they cannot work outside the house, because this is not their role and because their sexuality needs to be protected. As a consequence she cannot earn money. But at the same time she costs her family a lot of money due to the dowry system. Therefore, if a woman does not get married soon, or for some other reason, her reputation has been damaged and she will do more harm to her family than good. Due to this situation immense pressure will be put on the girl to find a good husband and be able to pay her dowry. In poor families girls will sometimes not see any other solution other than to look for their fortune abroad. And then once these girls have migrated, they often become outcasts at home. Because their move brought shame to their families it will become difficult to go back to their village. Furthermore, the girl feels tremendous pressure to work hard to compensate for her loss of honour. Regardless of her bad living conditions, the social pressure will make it very difficult for her to abandon work. Despite the fact that trafficking needs to be fought, a ban on female labour migration will not help these girls. As long as their social position is not improved, it is not realistic to assume that women would stop looking for better labour opportunities abroad. Given the demand of effective labour along with women’s willingness to sell their labour, a government policy that bans female migration will force women to push the whole process of female migration underground. As a result of these circumstances, created by the government, going abroad for opportunities, even for proper or legal jobs, can only be done through informal or illegal channels. The illegal nature of migration makes these girls easier prey in the hands of traffickers. Thus, instead of banning female migration, both civil society and the government should realise that migrated women are not necessarily victims and that trafficking and irregular migration are not the same. If the government would acknowledge that female migration is not necessarily harmful, it could help women to look for a better future and to make them less easy preys for traffickers. Instead of restricting women to work abroad, it could support them and help them to find safe and legal job opportunities. Concrete steps like skill building education and creation of networks could be taken. Additionally a change is needed from within Bangladeshi society, whereby it becomes socially acceptable for women to work abroad and social illegal practices like dowry are abandoned, in order to prevent women getting into desperate situations where they become easy prey for traffickers. An important reason for women to migrate is often empowerment. Migration can give women a chance to have more control over their own life, and not be completely dependent on the maintenance of her family or husband. Unfortunately, such changes do not occur from one day to another. In the mean time the government needs to pursue an active policy that will lead to empowerment of women instead of doing the opposite. At present, a vicious circle has been created wherein civil society has victimised female migrants by emphasising trafficking in such a manner that the government decided to restrict female migration. Instead of improving their social situation, this policy makes these women more vulnerable and as a result they have become easier targets for traffickers. This circle needs to be broken.

Common Ground? Investigating the importance of managing land

Panos Media Toolkit on Communicating Research-No.1
People’s capacity to access and use land is of utmost importance because of the bearing it has on several processes like economic growth, poverty reduction, and increased private investment and transparent and accountable government. Thus for the development of society as a whole it is essential that the government establishes a system that ensures access to land and housing. To ensure a sound policy, research must be carried on, on land management. Researches have brought forth the flaws of reform movements. The Zambian 1995 Land Act, provided for private ownership over customary rights, research showed that this worsened the position of the poor people. There have also been positive reforms. In particular the ‘Land to the tiller’ reforms which put an end to the feudal system e.g. in the Indian States of Kerala and West Bengal, however these reforms did not benefit those who were not tilling their own lands. Modernization has given rise to several problems in land management. Growing of cash crops has led to fragmentation of lands, smaller holdings are available to people for cultivation. Modernization has also posed a threat to pastoralism. Its survival as put forth by academics will depend on political decisions and the ability of the customary system to adapt to change. Urbanization has resulted in a very lopsided situation, while the standard of living of a few is very high the remaining live in extreme poverty. The poor turn towards illegal housing markets of slums. Because of the illegal status of these settlements no basic amenities are available. It is argued by some that land reforms are based on that assumption that the allocation of land to the male head of the family would ensure the benefit of all members but this does not always happen. Some researchers assert that in spite of the fact that women are excluded from ownership, such reforms provide paid work, access to health care etc. Decentralized governance has always been favored for development but however if the local governments are weak then the local vested powers may manipulate the policies in their favour. When property rights are insecure the forest resources may be taken over by the elites. Even if this does not happen, research shows that community based natural resource management is not always just and fair because of the hierarchical nature of most communities. Research further shows that devolution of power directly in favour of people works better than allocation of decision-making power i.e. local government, for various land management issues.