Wednesday 22 November 2017

The 9th Annual Meet cum Capacity building of AMRAT (Asian Movement of Women Religious for Anti Human Trafficking)

First Day: 10 NOVEMBER 2017
The 9th Annual Meet cum Capacity building of AMRAT (Asian Movement of Women
Religious for Anti Human Trafficking commenced was held on 10 - 12 November 2017 at Indian Social Institute Benson Town, Bengaluru. The participants numbering 100 represented the various Women Congregations under this big umbrella for the promotion of human dignity and protection of rights.
The day had a fresh beginning with the beautiful reflection on “The Fountain and the Drain” as the focus of the Morning Prayer animated by the Karnataka Region. The Holy Eucharist presided by Rev. Fr. Jerome Stanislaus SJ, the Provincial of Karnataka Province, followed this. He dwelt on an option for the Sea of Galilee and that of the Dead Sea.
At 8.30 am the participants assembled in the hall for the registration. Soon after, the inaugural function took off with a prayer moment invoking the Holy Spirit. The reading from the scripture on Jesus raising the little girl by commanding her  ARISE, Talitakum taken from the Gospel of St. Mathew gave a clear focus on the purpose of the gathering. Then the children from Gulabi School welcomed the participants with their elegant dance. Sr. Sagaya the former President of AMRAT welcomed the dignitaries and briefed the history of AMRAT through a video clipping entitled” Glimpses”.
Sr. Lissy SMI invited the following dignitaries on the dais and were welcomed with a garland - The Archbishop of Karnataka Most Rev. Bernard Moras, Mr. Luke Director ARISE Foundation, Fr. Jerome Stanislaus SJ the Provincial of Karnataka Province Sr. Arpan the president of AMRAT, Fr. Edward Thomas SDB Director of the organization on missing, Member of the Expert Committee POCSO ACT 2012, Sr. Gracy George the Provincial of SMI Bangalore Province, Sr. Teresa Meera Provincial of Good Shepherd South West India member of Justice Peace and commission, Ex officio member of AMRAT, Rev. Fr. Selvaraj Director Indian Social Institute,  Bangalore.  The gathering
also greatly acknowledged the presence of Fr. Francis SJ, Fr. Martin SJ and Fr. Arun SJ of the community of ISI, the local hosts.
The traditional lighting of the lamp invoked God’s presence and enlightenment as they embarked on the two days of sharing and discussion: Following are the some of the highlights from each speaker
   Bishop Bernard Moras in his message said God created human beings in His own image and likeness and how it is distorted and has become the concern for the modern day society based on the grounds of ethical and moral dimensions and how it is politicized in some situations. He further quoted from the Old and the New Testament pointed out the existence of human trafficking from the beginning and how the children and women are made use for money making and for passion. He also highlighted some of his experiences, which affected him personally quoting how in Belgaum the trafficking in persons especially among
women and children happens, and these are trafficked to Mumbai. Above all, he appreciated the activities and the mission of AMRAT and expressed the Church’s concern about the evil of trafficking pointing out how the Pope himself is going out of the way when he speaks about misery. He assured AMRAT that the Church appreciates and assures that it will stand by the members of AMRAT.

       Mr. Luke from ARISE Foundation appreciated and differentiated the priorities of the Religious Sisters to that of the other NGOs in terms of persons not the numbers. He expressed his keen interest to support the mission of Sisters in the area of Anti human trafficking initiatives.

       Fr. Jerome Stanislaus SJ-Provincial spoke on the Prophetic witnesses of the religious and appreciated the inter-congregational venture. Quoting a person’s comment on demonetization, he remarked that the need of the hour is not changing the currency but changing the perspective, and also pointed out that the perspective change comes from the Gospel. He also emphasized about the significance of Ekantha-communion with God and guganantha- communion with people.

       Fr. Selvaraj, Director of Indian Social Institute, Bengaluru highlighted on Human Rights violation in the perspective of Gender-based violence. Furthermore, he cited that discrimination is meted upon vulnerable communities like the Dalits, the Adivasis etc. Finally, he pointed out three elements that led to Human trafficking namely Poverty, Illiteracy and Political instability.

       Sr. Gracy George –Provincial SMI invited all present to get disturbed by the deprivation of the dignified life to women and children due to human trafficking. Based on the survey, she quoted the magnitude of the problem and ended with the phrase “Prevention is better than cure” and to be disturbed and determined to work for the cause.

Sr. Arpan the President of AMRAT finally thanked the dignitaries and gifted them with saplings given by Sisters from the AMRAT family signifying the growth of AMRAT.
The ceremony concluded with a group photo of participants.

Rev. Fr. Edward Thomas SDB handled the first session, on He began with the phrase “Do it well”. He pointed out the significance of having Data, which he mentioned as the biggest tool for Advocacy and asked the group whether they have an agenda for Nation Building.
Some of the highlights from his presentation are
   Web Portal
   Two folds of web portal
   a) Missing/Kidnapping/Trafficking
   b) Found/Unaccompanied/Found/Unrelated-Person

At 2.30pm the session began with the talk by Mr. Lukos, IAS, Retired. Some of the significant points from his session are
   No religious organization exists for itself
     Emphasized on the need to be inter-organizational and congregational synergy is a positive model.
     He explained on the issue of child labour marking out the difference between the 1986 child labour prohibition and Regulation Act 2016 Act
     The work of the organizations to be based on Social skills, Economic Skills and Political Skills.
   He insisted on Documentation
   He gave tips on how to be a genuine social worker: love for work, people of good relationship, not to be Egoistic, to people-oriented. He cautioned about the challenges ahead of the social worker and encouraged to have strong resilience to stay grounded.

At 5.30pm Mr. Luke of the ARISE Foundation shared his experiences with the people on the ground reality and pointed out the three messages he observed in the sisters who work on the issue
   No Support to run the programme
   Need Public relations
   Administration requires professionalism
Sr. Anna Maria expressed words of appreciation for the support and help rendered to the AMRAT and invited Sr. Arpan to present the cultural cap of Karnataka and a gift to him.
Soon after Sr. Lissy Rose the moderator of the day invited Sr. Arpan to present the annual report of AMRAT. The report brought out clearly the 8th Annual meet and the regional meet followed by action plan executed by AMRAT at the national level. The day was concluded with the evening prayer praising the greatness of the Lord.

Day 2: 11 November 2017
The Second day began with the Morning Prayer conducted by Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh Region followed by Eucharistic celebration offered by Fr. Francis D’ Souza SJ the Administrator of ISI. The morning session commenced at 8.45am with the prayer led by Karnataka Region. Sr. Shirley the moderator of the day requested the secretaries of the previous day to present the report. Sr. Isabella Alphonse FMA, Sr. Mavis BS and Sr. Alexia AC presented the report of the previous day. After a few corrections and clarification by the participants the report was passed.
Sr. Shirley introduced Sr. Jyothi BS the Foundress of AMRAT to the group. She was welcomed by Sr. Sagaya FMM with a garland. Sr. Jyothi spoke about the beginning of AMRAT, which began in 2009 and is growing faster involving many more congregations. The strength of AMRAT is the sign of Love for humanity. Quoting Lk. 4:18, the Mission mandate of Jesus she invited the members of AMRAT to move forward with the same zeal of Jesus.
The resource persons of the day Mr. Mervin D’ Mello, Miss Jonita Britto and Mr. Sumith Unni the members of IJM (International justice Mission) were introduced by Sr. Violet BS and welcomed by Sr. Isabella FMA, Sr. Niranjan HC, and Sr. Vincy Canosa respectively. Mr. Mervin D’ Mello addressed the group on human trafficking . At the very outset, a questionnaire sheet was given to assess the knowledge on human trafficking. He said that if we want to end slavery, we should understand what justice is.  There are three types of justice based on the Bible, namely, 1. Restorative 2. Distributive 3. Retributive. He highlighted on two types of justice, which are relevant in today’s context:
   Restorative: restoring the harm caused by the criminal to a person.
     Retributive: justice refers to the suitable punishment to the offences so that evil will not keep on advancing.
The above-mentioned types of justice were explained in the light of bible texts, Deuteronomy 1: 13 – 20, Isaiah 1: 19, Luke 4: 17 – 19.
Referring to the one time slavery of Israelites in Egypt which was ended, he posed a question to the group “is it possible to end the modern day slavery?”
Citing the examples of the experiment of RR vaccine (Restorative and retributive methods) in different countries he gave the hope to the participants that it is possible to end the slavery of Human trafficking in the world with the combined efforts from all the sectors of the society.
The session was ended with the prayer “Our father” followed by praying for the victims of trafficking and law enforcement officers.

The second Session was taken over by Ms. Jonita Britto on Indian Justice system to end slavery through legal action. She presented the statistics of 2016 on trafficking of women and children. Myths on trafficking were displayed on the screen for the participants to have a clear picture. Through the power-point presentation she discussed the following topics.
   Trafficking – action, means and purpose
   Causes of trafficking
   Victims of trafficking
   Laws to stop trafficking
   Legal framework in India
   Immoral Traffic (prevention ) act 1956 (ITPA)
   Overview of the major ITPA offences
   Ending impunity – Section 15,16,19.( ITPA)
   III A - Rescue procedure under ITPA according to section 15 A
   IIIB – Removal procedure under ITPA according to section 16
   III C – Removal procedure under ITPA according to section 19
   III D  - Post rescue procedure under ITPA section 17
   III E - Post rescue procedure under ITPA
   III E – Custody provisions under ITPA
The next topic dealt upon was POCSO Act (protection of child from sexual offences) 2012
She explained in detail on the following:
   Safety and security of children
   Protection from sexual act
   POCSO offences and punishments
   Procedure for reporting of cases
   Special court – POCSO court.
   Care and protection.

The JJ Act (Juvenile Justice Act) was explained in brief. The session was ended with the success story of survivor named Sadhana through a video clip.

The Post lunch session was resumed at 2.00pm. The resource person Ms. Ruth Thomas was introduced to the group by Sr. Violet D’ Souza BS and was welcomed by Regima DHM. She dealt on the topic Bonded Labour. The session began with the questions to know the participants’ understanding on bonded labour, where it exists and how it is related to human trafficking. It was followed by a video presentation on bonded labour, which depicted bonded labour as a human right violation and not a labour issue and it is a hidden issue.
The topic was explained through bonded labour abolition act 1976.
   Rights and freedom
   Types of debts and obligation
     Rescue procedures – File FIR, rescue, arrest, charge sheet, enquiry/161 statements, release certificates.
Video play of the rescue operation at the rice mill bonded labour was shown.

Following which IJM’s fourfold purpose was explained to protect the poor for the violence.
   Rescue victims
   Restore survivors
   Bring criminals to justice
   Strengthen justice system
The success story of Kumar was displayed through a video clip.

Session IV of the day began at 4.30pm with a group discussion. The participants were divided into 6 groups.
The following questions were discussed in the groups and the outcome was shared in the larger group.
Ø    How can you identify Bonded Labour victims in your community as an individual? How can AMRAT recognize Bonded Labour as an organization?
   Through family visits
   Conducting survey
   Interaction with labourers
   Visit to the construction site
   Interaction with the labourers to get to know other labourers
   Net working with CWC
   Net working with other like-minded NGOs like IJM
   Finding out the type of work labourers are involved in
   Collection of DATA through Anganwadi Worker
   Registration of the migrant workers
   Networking with other lay and church commissions

Ø    How can AMRAT raise further awareness about Bonded Labour?

   By being aware about the present situation in the country
     AMRAT members collect information from Labour commissioner of each district and states
   Collecting information and cooperation from police officials
     Arranging awareness Programmes in National, Regional and Deanery C.R.I. meeting
     Conducting awareness programme for sisters and teachers in the education line and working at grass root level. Local social welfare officials, like-minded NGOs, government officials and students.

Ø    What else could AMRAT/you do to combat the bonded labour system?

   Individual level
   Create a lot of awareness on bonded labour
   Keeping oneself abreast, updated
   Read newspapers/write to the editor
   Do resource mapping
   Collect data or survey of the missing children
   Congregational Level
   Discuss in the annual meeting
   Present the problem in the General Chapter
   Networking with local NGOs
   Information sharing
   Resource mapping
   AMRAT Level
   Create awareness
   Net working
   Put it in the action plan and take it as a priority

Ø  What are the primary elements in a case of sex trafficking?
   Who are the traffickers
   Identify the victims
   The source, the transit
   By whom the person is trafficked
   Missing complaints/FIR to be filed
   Inquiry from the locals
   Person’s place of origin
   Place where the person is found
   Exploitation or the injury inflicted on the person
   Educational/economic status of the victim
   The act, means and purpose
   If any allurement involved

Ø  Who can you report cases of sex trafficking?
   Special Juvenile Police Unit
   Local police station
   Anti Human trafficking unit
   what role can you play in a sex trafficking case?
   Creating awareness about the issue, relevant laws, etc
   Providing prayer support
   Informing the concerned officials
   Counseling and accompaniment
   Helping in investigation, including home study
   Link between the victim and justice delivery system
   Being part of the rescue operation
   Helping to get compensation from state
   Getting medical aid for the victim
   Helping public prosecutors in prosecuting the offenders
   Networking with NGOs

The session concluded at 5.30 pm.  Sr. Teresa proposed the vote of thanks to the IJM members and Sr. Jyoti presented gifts to them as a token of gratitude and love. 
A documentary on the RISE UP was presented by Mr. Luke produced by ARISE Foundation. The members dispersed and the meeting of Executive Body members and Legal Advisory Committee was held from 6pm – 7pm.  The evening prayer was conducted by Maharashtra and Goa region at 7.15 pm.  Thus the day concluded by thanking God for the blessings and the learning gained. 

Day 3: 12 November 2017
The day began with the Morning Prayer conducted by Northeast region.  The Holy Eucharist was presided by Rev. Fr. Msgr. Jayanathan, the Vicar General of Archdiocese of Bengaluru. He was introduced by Sr. Lissy Rose SMI and welcomed with a garland.  In his introduction for the Eucharist he urged the members of AMRAT to be like Jesus who was a free person to lead other people to freedom. He said the three key words, which lead people to human trafficking, is Enticement, Expectation and exploitation. During his homily based on the call to be the salt and light he called us to be focused in our interventions among the victims to arrive at one single action for a certain period of duration for which he gave us a four point advise namely: awareness of the situation, analysis, Reflection and Action.
After breakfast the day’s meeting started with an opening prayer led by Sr. Rani Maria BS and Sr. Isabella FMA with a hymn “Lord I give myself to you”.
Sr. Carol Geeta MSA was the moderator of the day. She called upon Sr. Shanti Priya to moderate the Region wise reporting sessions. The following regions presented their reports:
   North East Region – Sr. Prema SCSC
   Tamilnadu Region – Sr. Rani Maria BS
   Karnataka region – Sr. Lissy Rose SMI
   Eastern Region – Sr. Jessy Maria BS
   Northern Region – Sr. Tresapaul SCSC

The Moderator Sr. Shanti Priya appreciated the regional coordinators for their collective efforts to present the collated reports of their respective Regions. She said that the regions are getting more organized and heading towards rescue and rehabilitation of victims. She suggested that we highlight more facts and figures to make the report more authenticated.
After the tea break at 10.30 am the following Regions presented their reports
   Sri Lanka Region – Sr. Nilanti FMM
   West Bengal Region – Sr. Lavina Crasta BS
   Kerala Region – Sr. Philo Manimala AASC
At the end of the Regional reports Sr. Arpan BS the president of AMRAT thanked all the regional coordinators especially those sisters who took responsibility to present the report in the absence of their regional coordinators.

We had the privilege of the visit of District Police Inspector of North of Bengaluru  in our midst. Sr. Jeena Jacob introduced the DPI and Sr. Jyoti BS the founder of AMRAT welcomed him with a garland. He started his speech saying, “It is nice to enlighten the enlightened ones. He explained in detailed the two major rescue operations done during his tenure as DPI in Belary District. He said that it was the first this kind of incident in India where Maximum accused were punished and put into prison. He also expressed his grief where the police forces leave the case and do not follow it to the end. He expressed the desire of having more organizations like AMRAT to carry out caring for these people and giving service to humanity.
Then Sr. Arpan BS invited Sr. Isabella FMA to explain the ORANGE DAY to the new participants of AMRAT. Sr. Isabella very logically and elaborately explained the ORANGE DAY with the connection with the UNCRC (United Nations Conference on Rights of Children). She called upon the participant to collect the further information through the Internet.
After the lunch break the participants went into region wise to prepare their action plan for the coming year 2017-18. The following regions presented their action plan. They are as follows:
   Tamil nadu & Andra Region – Sr. Satya FMA
   Kerala Region – Sr. Philo Manimala AASC
   West Bengal – Sr. Lavina Crasta BS
   Western Region – Sr. Esperanca canosian
   Karnataka REGION – Sr. Lissy Rose SMI
   Northen region – Sr. Teresa Paul SCSC
   Eastern Region – Sr. Jessy Maria BS
   North East region – Sr. Mavis BS
   Sri Lanka – Sr. Nilanthi FMM
After the tea break Sr. Cynthia Cardoza presented the financial report of AMRAT for the year 2016-17. All the participants appreciated her meticulous keeping of accounts and accurate presentation. Sr. Princy Canosian sister passed the report and Sr. Livinia BS seconded it.  Hence, the participants unanimously passed the report.
The moderator of the day called Sr. Meera RGS to conduct the evaluation of AGBM of AMRAT 2017. She with a resourceful experience very tactfully asked the participant to evaluate the days’ proceedings. The members voiced the following points very spontaneously. They as follows:
   The meeting was well arranged with proper accommodations, resource persons, and well focused on the theme.
   The participants were informed well in advance of the venue and the logistics.
   It was an occasion of pooling of the resources of Sisters of different congregations.
   It is a need of the hour - calls for collaboration and we have done it through AMRAT.
   It was an occasion to come together for a higher cause.
   There was creativity in conducting prayer and liturgy.
   Active participation of the members was praiseworthy.
   Food and accommodation was well set.
   There was a suggestion to upload this programe in social media and newspapers to make AMRAT known to other organizations.
   It is a feminine energy, which sustained the participants to assert their presence.
   The commitment of the sisters of Executive members was highly appreciated by the participants
   The human resources are emerging in AMRAT.
Sr. Danum SCSC the secretary of AMRAT was called upon to voice out our sentiments of gratitude to Rev. Fr. Francis SJ the Administrator of ISI. She thanked him for his dedicated service in planning out for our food, logistics and spiritual needs. She also appreciated his simplicity, approachability and availability.  Sr. Vimala garlanded him and Sr. Meera honoured him with a small gift.
Later, Sr. Arpan BS the president of AMRAT gave a general Vote of thanks to all those who have helped in one way or the other to make these days of AGBM fruitful and successful. Sr. R. Sahaya FMM the former President of AMRAT thanked Sr. Arpan BS on behalf of all the participants. Sr. Jyoti BS the founder president of AMRAT was gratefully remembered on the occasion.
The days’ proceedings came to an end with the closing prayer conducted by Sr. Teresa Paul SCSC and Sr. Stella BS. Sr. Jyoti prayed the final blessings on the participants. The participants went back to their respective mission field with much enthusiasm to carry on this noble mission for humanity.

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