Selling Slumdog fame Rubina

Dr. Pravin Patkar’s work in prevention of trafficking of women is perhaps unparalleled. He periodically informs me [among others] about the work his NGO is doing and also his views on several related issues. His views are candid, studied and his perspectives different because he has seen a world that a common man like me has not. I am reproducing what he wrote to me recently, with of course, his permission. [Recently Rubina’s father put her up for adoption or sale, I have provided link in the text, here is additional one from wikipedia on Rubina]. [Link]

Everyone knows who Rubina is. [She played young Latika in Oscar winning Slumdog…]. Everyone also knows what the Dharavi slum is where Rubina lives. It is one question every Dharavi slum dweller can answer. The largest slum in Asia! A cliché!

Sting operations are losing their charm. They are not as common for the media as cardiac surgeries to a cardiac surgeon or caesarean deliveries to a gynaecologist. Still a sting operation was carried out. The entire episode is actually not worth spending our valuable time. Still there are some lessons learnt and some yet to be learnt.

Some so called NGOs operating in the field of women’s empowerment which are run by the out and out party politicians which only selectively pick up cases on the basis of their sensationalism, publicity mileage, and media visibility were too busy in election campaigning. They were conspicuously absent.

Unlike in the past even the child rights NGOs, which are a dozen a dime in the city did not touch this case at all. Actually until recently you could know that they are alive only when such high media value episodes occurred. There is a danger lurking behind this trend. . . if they start keeping away from such high visibility sensational cases they will soon be signing their death certificate.

At last, you got to know that the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights [Link] is finally out of the incubator. It is not stillborn! The timing is however wrong! When there are so many I mean ‘Soooooo maaaaany’ burning issues of child rights and child protection pending for years the National Commission showed uncalled for initiative to start inquiry in the whole episode. It declared that it would dash down to Mumbai and look into the matter.

Will anyone ask the question ‘Why?’.

What happened to the Maharashtra State Commission for Child Rights? [See Link] Has it failed? Has it refused to look into the matter? Is it not aware of the issue?

If it i.e. the Maharashtra State Commission for Child Rights has not started any inquiry in the matter what are its reasons?

There are 2 Child Welfare Committees set up under the Juvenile Justice Act for Mumbai and both are doing adequately well. Technically speaking the matter should go to the CWC and not the Commission at all.

The police have to take the child to the CWC. The accused should be produced before the nearest Magistrate. What is the role of the National Commission in this?

Should the Mumbai CWC wait for someone to complain or should it start a suo motu action?

There are so many children bought, sold, pledged, pawned, trafficked, exported, smuggled, rented, everyday in this country. Why so much initiative in one particular case particularly when there is such rampant inaction (exception the Mumbai CWCS of course! They are busy every day, I know) and apathy in general? This reminds us of those activists who suddenly wake up only when there is a case of a white skinned tourist sexually exploiting a local kid. They are in deep sleep when everyday thousands of kids are sexually exploited by the insiders of all skin colours. Obviously the reason is the same. . . low selling value!

Finally, we must unequivocally condemn a section of the media for pouncing on Rubina to get the ‘TRUTH’ out of her. Shame! Shame!! Are we scared that they won’t call us for the next bite?

[With thanks to Dr. Pravin Patkar]