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Slavery: A 21st Century Evil: Bridal Slaves in India

World  (tags: slavery, child brides, abuse, sexual abuse, crime, india, women, girlds, childrencorruption, cover-up, abuse, HumanRights, freedoms, violence, crime, children, UnitedNations )

- 2131 days ago -
In the midst of widespread poverty, economic inequality and rampant corruption, a new form of slavery - bridal slavery - has flourished. Women and young girls are sold for as little as $120 to men who often burden them with strenuous labour and abuse them

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Xil L (40)
Sunday July 22, 2012, 6:25 am
More :

Teresa W (782)
Sunday July 22, 2012, 7:05 am
Horrible! (I've always believed that marriage is slavery for women.)

Roger G (154)
Sunday July 22, 2012, 1:10 pm
noted thanks !

Penelope P (222)
Monday July 23, 2012, 6:32 pm

Ali Murphy (1)
Monday July 23, 2012, 8:17 pm
I feel sad for the young girls and women who are forced into these controlling, abusive marriages. Its so wrong.

Vinnie m (334)
Monday July 23, 2012, 8:30 pm
Xil L...I just saw this on television tonight. About a guy riding around on a scooter with a folder trying to match poor nice girls who have no dowrys to offer to good wealthy men. Because he has two sisters, he takes this very seriously. Unfortunately there are bad people offering poor families a rich husband for their daughters and they end up being sold to Sheiks from Saudi Arabia who turn them over to bad men for prostitution. So sad.

Paula M (39)
Tuesday July 24, 2012, 11:22 am
So sad!

Eugene C (3)
Tuesday July 24, 2012, 5:48 pm
It seems unbelievable doesn't it, that Women are still being bought and sold, and it is not only in India! It's happening in England, Australia, America, Europe, South America and numerous other countries, and we talk about progress and the equality of Women.

Charlene Rush (79)
Tuesday July 24, 2012, 6:46 pm
Unfortunately, there are disgraceful human beings, on every part of this planet, including the U.S.A.
The main problem is, we just don't care ENOUGH.
The lunatic anti-choice people could be out there, using their energy to help stop this horrendous crime, and save 'already born', at-risk women and children.
As for the rest of us, we look the other way, not wanting to admit that this happens to some of our citizens.

Mary Donnelly (47)
Wednesday July 25, 2012, 3:02 am
Thanks for this sad post.

. (0)
Wednesday July 25, 2012, 11:25 am
I had enough half way through the video. India is a country of contradictions; dark, and ugly. yet for the true Hindu. a land of peace.Sadly, I think India is moving away from it's basic Hindu beliefs, and is being pulled by a subculture that is becoming blindly accepting to their atrocities toward women.
One one hand, India is in an economic boom; on the other hand it has a terrible, immoral,element of society, which seems to cross class levels.

M B (62)
Wednesday July 25, 2012, 2:44 pm
I've been there, saw things with my own eyes, I've seen working slaves...very sad.

Marie W (67)
Sunday July 29, 2012, 11:14 pm
India is not making progress.

Tuesday August 21, 2012, 4:14 am

pam w (139)
Friday November 2, 2012, 3:28 pm
As many have's NOT just India! It's world-wide and various "cultures" are expanding the practice into the western world. We MUST stand firmly against it.


pam w (139)
Friday November 2, 2012, 3:30 pm offense Nancy can pass all the laws you like but do you honestly think Somali Muslims (for example) will stop doing something which makes them rich and powerful? Men all over the planet are packing away money by using people as sex you think they'll respect your "laws?"

jaya Sinha (26)
Thursday November 8, 2012, 4:53 am
A Mighty Heart

Fifteen years after she stood up to those who raped her, Bhanwari Devi has become an icon of Dalit and women’s empowerment, writes SHIVAM VIJ
Unbowed: Bhanwari Devi with husband Mohan Lal
at their home in Bhateri Photo: Salman Usmani

She's a very brave woman,” said the host, Kavita Srivastava, about the “Chief Guest”, who was blessing the newly married couple. Kiran and Vinod have actually been married for a year and a half; the occasion was only a formal reception, which made their marital status public. Both hail from different parts of rural Rajasthan, and were studying in different colleges in Jaipur when they met. Vinod’s father is an agriculturist and belongs to the Mali caste; Kiran belongs to a Jat family, which owns four village schools. Therein lay the problem.

When Kiran’s parents found out about her attachment, they took their daughter away. She escaped. So they took her away once more, drugged her and beat her up. It was some days before she could call Vinod. He approached Kavita Srivastava, national secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, who in turn went to the police. At the reception held on September 28, the couple recited marriage vows that invoked Gandhi and Marx. Srivastava had invited Bhanwari Devi as the chief guest and paid her transport fare so that she could come from her village, Bhateri, 55 km from Jaipur. “All these movements are related to each other,” Srivastava said. “The women’s movement, the Right To Information movement, development — one has led to the other.” No one would know that better than Bhanwari Devi.

Fifteen years ago, she was gangraped by Gurjar men when she tried to prevent them from marrying off a baby girl who was just nine months old. They could not stomach the fact that Bhanwari Devi, a Dalit, had had the audacity to inform the police about the child marriage. Bhanwari Devi was just doing her job. She was employed as a saathin, a worker for the Women’s Development Programme run by the government of Rajasthan. The programme was coordinated by “voluntary groups” — as NGO’s were called in 1992. To prevent child marriages from taking place was part of her job.

Women’s groups in Rajasthan and Delhi took up Bhanwari Devi’s case in a big way. They were shocked when the district sessions judge pronounced in November 1995 that an upper-caste man could not have raped a Dalit. The honourable judge made some other interesting observations: a man could not possibly have participated in a gang rape in the presence of his nephew; Bhanwari Devi could be lying that she was gangraped as her medical examination happened a full 52 hours after the said event; and that her husband couldn’t possibly have watched passively as his wife was being gangraped — after all, had he not taken marriage vows which bound him to protect her? The judgement led to a huge nationwide campaign for justice for Bhanwari Devi. Which makes it all the more surprising that the Rajasthan High Court — in the fifteen years since the event — has held only one hearing on the incident. Today, perhaps Bhanwari Devi is the only person still clinging to the hope that she will get justice.

And even she is fairly certain that she won’t get it in her lifetime. “Such a large public rallied around me,” she says, “and yet I didn’t get justice.” The High Court judge has refused to transfer the case to a fast-track court; two of the five accused have died; the families of the other three claim that the case is closed. Which, for all practical purposes, it is.

The Bhanwari Devi case became a landmark in women’s rights movement. She could have chosen to remain anonymous, in keeping with (still) prevalent notions of “honour” and “shame”. But she was made of bolder stuff. “First there was silence around the rape and when Bhanwari broke that,” says Srivastava, “there was denial — the police, the press and the judiciary maintained she was lying. The campaign around her tried to change that.” The resulting furore led to the case being handed over to CBI.

The residents of Bhateri were very sore at Bhanwari Devi; they said she had besmirched the village’s name. When she was taken to Beijing for an international conference, they said, “Usne to Bharat ki naak kaat di.” (Bhanwari has sullied India’s honour.)

Taking the cue from the Bhanwari Devi case, five NGOs working in the field of women’s empowerment filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court to enact laws that would criminalise sexual harassment in the workplace. In Vishakha vs. the State of Rajasthan, the Supreme Court issued guidelines that broadly defined sexual harassment at the workplace and made it mandatory for corporations and business establishments to have committees against sexual harassment. On the other hand, the registration of rape cases in Rajasthan went up dramatically — not only were there more women speaking out, the police could no longer shirk from filing FIRs. The case also brought attention to the prevalence of child marriage. While the majority of rural Rajasthan still marries below the legal age, over the last 25 years the average age of the first-time mother has gone up to 16.5 years. Much of this change has been brought about by the efforts of women’s groups and other organisations in the voluntary sector, catalysed to a large degree by the Bhanwari Devi case.

The last 15 years have also brought about a change in Bhateri’s attitude towards sexual harassment — maybe just out of fear. Seven years ago someone there attempted to rape a researcher who had gone to meet Bhanwari Devi. The residents of Bhateri beat him up, called Srivastava, begged her not to inform the police and held a panchayat to punish the accused. Bhanwari was one of the five panches. “The issue of rehabilitation and compensation was also dealt with by the women’s groups for the first time,” says Urvashi Butalia, publisher and women’s rights activist. Bhanwari Devi refused to leave Bhateri. Her work as saathin earned her an honourarium of Rs 200 a month; nobody in the village bought her husband’s — who is a potter — wares anymore.

Bhanwari b lessing an inter-caste marriage. Photo: Salman Usmani

But Bhanwari Devi refused any monetary compensation, lest the people say that she cooked up the rape story to get money. “People tend to equate compensation for rape with prostitution, which is money in exchange for the body,” says Srivastava. “But the question of livelihood and security for Bhan-wari was a real one. So the language of compensation changed into one of rehabilitation.” When her father died, Bhanwari Devi was not served food at the funeral ceremonies. She realised even her own caste had ostracised her as she had been “polluted” by rape. When Bhanwari Devi accepted Rs 25,000 from then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao (even as the Bhairon Singh Shekhawat government in Rajasthan remained hostile to her), her brother spent all of it in organising a Kumhar caste panchayat to make the community accept her. It has made all the difference to her that her husband Mohan Lal has always stood by her. “Why blame the victim?” he asks.

Bhanwari Devi also got a one-lakh rupee bravery award, which she did accept. She had wanted to use the money to help Dalit women — she runs four different self-help groups with the support of Mohan Lal and Srivastava. But she ended up using the sum to add two rooms to her house. Lakshmi, Ganesh, Krishna and Ram adorn the green walls of the room where Bhanwari Devi and Mohan Lal welcome you, serve you lassi and mention every once in a while how difficult it is to make ends meet. After all these years the villagers still boycott Mohan Lal, choosing to buy their pots from another village. In his old age, Mohan Lal works as a labourer; Bhanwari Devi’s saathin honourarium has been raised to Rs 500. “The anganwadi workers do nothing, only pilfer grain,” she says angrily, “and they get 2,000 rupees a month!” She asks her husband to bring some registers, files and bank passbooks from the other room. Dalit women deposit money with her as membership fees and take a loan when they need it. At times the kitty has gone up to one lakh rupees. Bhanwari Devi’s transformation from victim to a pillar of strength for many can be gauged from pictures of women showing their bruises, letters asking her to intervene in land disputes and cases of dowry harassment, domestic violence, rape and murder. To many women from villages around Jaipur and the neighbouring districts she has become a beacon of hope.

Bhanwari Devi wonders how “empowered” she is. She is proud of her long fight, but her penury makes her wonder if she is getting her due for the work she is doing. Her two daughters are married — one is a school teacher; the other illiterate. Just like her, they were married when they were still children. “I was not in Mahila Vikas then,” she explains. The Women’s Development Programme, or rather the women’s groups coordinating it, changed her perspective completely. “Mukesh is a really difficult child,” says Srivastava of Bhanwari Devi’s youngest son.

Mukesh, a married, unemployed man now, was barely four in 1992. He was ostracised everywhere. When he went to college in Dausa, local Gurjar boys would beat him up and kick him out of the bus. This discrimination has made a lasting impact. It wasn’t easy finding a family willing to marry their daughter to Bhanwari Devi’s son.

Bhanwari Devi is most angry with those who made the film Bawandar, based on her life. She recalls how the director, Jagmohan Mundhra, promised her money and land, called her his sister, and couldn’t stop praising her bajra rotis. “I told him I don’t want money but at least try to get me justice,” she says. Mundhra asked her not to allow others to make a film on her and she complied, even refusing to be interviewed. Now, she feels cheated.

She was uncomfortable with the project in the first place. “Villagers would say let’s go see Bhanwari getting raped,” says Srivastava. When she tried to watch it she couldn’t get past the rape scenes.

She says that the actress Nandita Das, who played her in the film, told her that they were sisters. But after the shooting, she never came back. “It was not a biopic and one moves on to other projects,” says Das in her defence. “Bhanwari is a very brave woman but it is also the story of so many others. Beyond a point you’re only playing a role.” It is hard to appreciate Das’s defence, but you can see where she is coming from. When you say goodbye to Bhanwari Devi and she wants to know when you are coming back. “Perhaps next year,” you say. “Next year?”.

jaya Sinha (26)
Thursday November 8, 2012, 8:52 pm
Friends launch 'Save Navruna' Facebook page in desperate search for Bihar 12-year-old snatched from her bed

By Giridhar Jha

PUBLISHED: 21:57 GMT, 29 October 2012 | UPDATED: 00:11 GMT, 30 October 2012

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Navruna Chakravarti was kidnapped at night from her home

Navruna Chakravarti was kidnapped at night from her home

Friends of an abducted 12- year-old Bihar schoolgirl have taken to social networking sites in the hope of finding her after the state police treated them with indifference.

In a first-of-its-kind incident in Muzaffarpur, a 12-year-old Navruna Chakarwarti was kidnapped in the middle of the night from her home on September 18.

According to her family, the abductors broke into the house by cutting down the window grill of her room and forcibly took her away.

But the police allegedly refused to take cognisance of the matter by calling it a case of elopement as the family has still not received any ransom calls.

Taking matters into their own hands, Navruna's friends have started looking for a clue to her whereabouts through the social networking site, Facebook.

A 'Save Navruna Group' is active on Facebook calling upon the members to share the plight of her family and lend help in the safe recovery of the girl.

"If you happen to see my friend, please inform the Muzaffarpur police," a post on the page says.

The page has issued appeals to 'Save the daughter of Bihar'. "Aaj Aruna ke saath, kal aapke saath bhi ho sakta hai" (Today it has happened with Aruna, tomorrow it can happen to you too), a post reads.

The district police swung into action after Navruna's father Atulya Chakarwarti attempted suicide by consuming sleeping pills last week.
Father Atulya Chakravarti is weeping for his daughter Navruna Chakravarti

Father Atulya Chakravarti is weeping for his daughter Navruna Chakravarti

A team of senior police officials led by additional director- general of police Gupteshwar Pandey visited Navruna's residence on Sunday to assure her parents of an early recovery of the Class VII student. But the family seems to have lost all faith in the police.

"The district police had earlier refused to entertain our complaint. They started looking into the matter a month after my daughter was kidnapped," Atulya said.
Friends make a page for their missing friend to locate her whereabouts

Friends make a page for their missing friend to locate her whereabouts

Navruna's mother Maitreyi Chakarwarti said: "My daughter is only 12 years old. Had it been a case of a love affair, she could have run away from her coaching classes or school. Why would she cut open the window grill of the house to elope?"

Her parents alleged that the abduction was the handiwork of the local land mafia who were eyeing their plot of land in the district.

Atulya had earlier given a deadline to the district police to recover his daughter by October 24 and if the police failed to do so, he and his wife would immolate themselves outside the district magistrate's office.

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jaya Sinha (26)
Friday November 9, 2012, 4:12 am
Outrage grows over Bihar Govt's inaction 5 Nov 2012, 0910 hrs IST, TIMES NOW

It’s been nearly 45 days since 12-year-old Navruna Chakravarty was abducted from her home in Muzzafarpur, Bihar on the night of Sept 18. Despite protests by her family and friends, the police have failed to make any headway in the case so far. This even as the case has now taken a political turn.

Their anguished cries, their pain, their suffering and their pleas for help haven’t reached the corridors of power yet but are resonating through the streets of the capital now.

The search for 12-year-old Navruna Chakravarty continues 45 days after she was kidnapped by unidentified assailants who broke into her house and took her away.

While her hapless parents desperately hope for a miracle their misery is compounded further by the absolute indifference of the Bihar police.

But Navruna's friends and classmates have now taken it upon themselves to locate the missing girl and have even launching an online campaign, highlighting the plight of Navruna's family.

Authorities on their part after initially refusing to even act are now reportedly attempting to justify their inaction with an outrageous elopement theory involving the 12-year-old child. An explanation that fails to cut any ice with those demanding answers.

With the chorus of voices reaching Delhi and the issue now turning political, amid the growing din of protests how long can the Nitish Kumar government continue to look away as another child falls victim to the sheer indifference of the administration?

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