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Padma Shri Sunitha Krishnan- Crusader cleansing miasma of human trafficking

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Mangaluru: She was traumatized by a gangrape at the tender age of 15. Her family disowned her for fighting for the abuse of girls on the pretext of Miss India pageant. Yet, she stood for her cause, fought against woman and child trafficking despite facing 17 attacks on her life including acid attacks and the fate of seeing her colleague being murdered in front of her, but she faced it all. The overwhelming result of it is rescuing over 15,600 girls in 20 years (and counting) of her illustrious and the Government bestowing on her, one of the country’s most coveted awards – the Padma Shri in 2016.

When her alma-mater Roshni Nilaya School of Social Work here, felicitated Dr Sunitha Krishnan for her outstanding achievements, it was moment for the whole of Mangaluru to take pride of one of its products who has made such a huge impact in the field of fighting human trafficking in the international arena.

Dr Sunitha shared her plans in the pipeline with NewsKarnataka to enforce stricter laws on trafficking. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

You have been fighting for the implementation of the Organized Crime Investigating Agency. What is the status? How effective will this agency be?
“We had filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court in 2004 demanding victim protection protocol. The case went on for about 12 years. In the course of time, the apex court directed the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) to join us and evolve a comprehensive plan on this. Over these years, several amendments to acts and laws took place. Hence, we realized the necessity for a central specialized agency dedicated exclusively to tackle such cases. We discussed it with the NLSA and brought out a common report which we submitted to the Supreme Court demanding a Central Task Force exclusively for organized crime.

Secondly, we wanted all forms of trafficking including trafficking for labour, beggary, organ harvesting, organ trade and trafficking for adoption to be brought under one umbrella, although 82 per cent of the trafficking happens only for prostitution. We have sought for a very comprehensive legislation, be it Prohibition of Beggary Act or the Bonded Labour Act. It even includes some parts of the POCSO Act.

The Supreme Court has now ordered for the establishment of the Agency and has given six months time to start its functioning. The Union government has committed Rs 100 crores for the purpose. Once the agency is setup, the entire chain of traffickers, right from source to destination will be caught.

Some big fish – the politicians who are involved in the racket will also be caught by the agency investigators.

Speedy justice delivery system is one of the important measures you have been demanding for. Could you elaborate on this?
Irrespective of the quantum of punishment, the speedy justice delivery system proposes for serious revisions in law pertaining to crimes related to rapes. If the Nirbhaya case is taken into consideration, the barbarous and unfortunate incident took place in 2012 and the quantum of punishment was announced at the fag end of December 2015. Verdicts on rape cases should not be extended for so long. Also, accused in the gang rapes should not be allowed to appeal in upper courts at all. The Human Rights activists will however not agree to this, but I strongly bat for this being a Human rights activist myself.

The speedy justice delivery system involves summary courts, creating time bound justice delivery system, setting up of special courts, creating victim friendly methods of investigation and time bound video conferencing of court trials among others.

Though this is at an early stage, there is no question of backing out until the new system comes in place.


Are the ministries working in tandem towards ensuring curbing the trafficking menace?

There is a huge conflict between the Department of Health and the Department of Women and Child Welfare. While the Department of Health gives health related interventions providing condoms and ensuring women are out of sexual diseases, it essentially takes a presumption that their locus standi should not be disturbed. But we say that giving condoms is not the answer but providing rehabilitation is. There was a big war between the two departments as we carried an amendment to the parliament on this issue and came down.
More than the two departments, the school of thought represented by two lobbies are at loggerheads.

Sunitha Krishnan runs Prajwala, the world’s biggest rehabilitation centre that rescues, rehabilitates and reintegrates sex-trafficked victims into society.

The centre that began with five rescuers in what was a brother house, today houses over 8,000 victims and rescuers in eight centres. Her Telugu feature film Naa Bangaaru Talli (My Dearest Daughter) has bagged three national awards.

Padma Shri Sunitha Krishnan- Crusader cleansing miasma of human trafficking
Padma Shri Sunitha Krishnan- Crusader cleansing miasma of human trafficking
Padma Shri Sunitha Krishnan- Crusader cleansing miasma of human trafficking
Padma Shri Sunitha Krishnan- Crusader cleansing miasma of human trafficking
Padma Shri Sunitha Krishnan- Crusader cleansing miasma of human trafficking
Padma Shri Sunitha Krishnan- Crusader cleansing miasma of human trafficking

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