Child brides sold into sex slavery, domestic work, say Indian officials

The number of girls getting married in India has fallen by nearly half in the past decade, but 27 percent of all brides are still below age 18, according to UNICEF. (Reuters)
Updated 01 May 2018
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Child brides sold into sex slavery, domestic work, say Indian officials

  • Discrimination against girls remains widespread, particularly in rural and poor communities where parents often view daughters as financial burdens and continue to marry them off early
  • Campaigners say it is difficult to convince many people that the tradition of child marriage is wrong

MUMBAI: Girls are being trafficked into domestic servitude or sex slavery after their parents illegally marry them off, said officials in the Indian state of Maharashtra on Tuesday.
Researchers are conducting the state’s first survey into links between child marriage and slavery, according to Vijaya Rahatkar, chairperson of Maharashtra’s women’s commission.
The legal age of marriage in India is 18 for women and 21 for men. Parents face a fine of 100,000 rupees ($1,535) and two years in prison if they are caught trying to marry off their underage children.
But discrimination against girls remains widespread, particularly in rural and poor communities where parents often view daughters as financial burdens and continue to marry them off early.
“Many of these marriages do not last, and we have now seen cases where there are direct and indirect linkages to trafficking,” Rahatkar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Rahatkar said her commission decided to carry out the survey after receiving reports of child brides enslaved in households and sold into brothels.
After one such report, authorities rescued a girl who had been married off and then forced to work without wages on a farm, where she was abused and tied up so she did not run away.
The findings of the survey, currently underway in districts that report high rates of child marriage, will be shared with various state governments, said Rahatkar.
There has been a “complete vacuum in the research space on trafficking and child marriage,” said Adrian Phillips of the anti-trafficking group Justice and Care.
The research is expected to provide data that will expose connections between the two crimes, said Phillips, whose group has partnered with the women’s commission to conduct the survey.
The number of girls getting married in India has fallen by nearly half in the past decade, the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, said in March. But 27 percent of all brides are still below age 18, according to UNICEF.
Campaigners say it is difficult to convince many people that the tradition of child marriage is wrong.
“They believe there is no ill in the practice, as it has been going on for years,” said Nirmal Gorana, convener of the National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour.
“When parents marry their girls young, it is also to ensure they do not stake any claim on the parent’s property,” he added.


Swine flu kills 40 in western India

Updated 18 January 2019
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Swine flu kills 40 in western India

  • Last year around 1,100 people died and 15,000 were infected across India by the highly contagious A H1N1 virus that spreads from human-to-human
  • Cases spike in the winter months of December and January in the west and north of the country including in Rajasthan and in New Delhi

JAIPUR, India: At least 40 people have died and more than 1,000 have tested positive for swine flu since the beginning of this year in a western Indian state popular with foreigners, authorities said Friday.
Last year around 1,100 people died and 15,000 were infected across India by the highly contagious A H1N1 virus that spreads from human-to-human.
Cases spike in the winter months of December and January in the west and north of the country including in Rajasthan and in New Delhi.
Authorities in Rajasthan, famous for its deserts and palaces, have told doctors they must seek permission before going on leave and plan a door-to-door campaign to detect infected patients.
Health officials have also launched an awareness campaign to sensitise people about symptoms, precautions and treatment, and have screened more than 5,100 people.
“Total deaths are 40 and positive cases are 1,036 as from January 1 to 17 in Rajasthan. One of the deaths occurred on Thursday,” according to a statement by the Rajasthan health department.
One high-profile victim in Delhi this week was Amit Shah, a top aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was admitted to hospital with the virus.
Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district recorded the highest death toll with 16 fatalities and 225 people testing positive.
No travel advisory has been issued however.