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SEX TOURISM EXPOSED
 
     
Meanwhile, a similar strategy had been adopted to target Pramod Kerkar who runs the Spliff shack on Baga Beach. Local ngos had earlier shared their field intelligence that Spliff shack is a pick up point for paedophiles. Like Kandolkar, the fluent-English speaking Kerkar fell for the Red Satin proposal. He offered to hire out his shack and another place to us. He said that the boys who work with him are mostly from Karnataka and know how to deal with foreigners. He said that his boys are paid money by foreigners — an average of Rs 1,000 a day. He even introduced us to Praveen, a 17-year-old Karnataka boy who has been working in Spliff shack for the past seven years. Kerkar added that foreigners preferred Karnataka boys because they had good bodies. “I mean I can handle that easily. We have been doing this for the past 15 years. Even if I get the boys, like nice and young boys, good looking and I can train them also,” Kerkar gushed.

The astounding ease with which children could be procured points at the criminal nexus between child trafficking and paedophilia. Tehelka met many children who had travelled with foreigners to other parts of the country. They always returned with money and gifts. The thatched shanty home of Pankaj, one such child, had no chair to sit on, but in the sand outside lay a pair of expensive roller skates. He had just returned from Switzerland. His father, a fisherman, told us that Pankaj was taken to Switzerland for three months on a picnic by a Swiss couple who they know as Klausers. His mother has an album full of photographs her son Pankaj has brought along. Strangely, she did not have her son’s passport. The Klausers had retained it.

Why is Pankaj’s passport being held back? How could an unaccompanied minor go abroad? Pankaj’s mother showed us an affidavit on the basis of which Pankaj’s passport was issued by the Panjim passport office. And Pankaj was earlier employed at Spliff shack and it was here that he met the Klausers.
Meanwhile, not far away from where Pankaj stays, Kamla is preparing to leave for Australia. She has heard about Pankaj’s trip to Switzerland and is confident that her sponsor Dr Margaret will take her to Australia during the forthcoming tourist season.

The first time Tehelka reporters visited Kamla’s house, she was away at a convent learning English. This was sponsored by Dr Margaret. So were the expenses incurred on Kamla’s passport. Margaret has a polio-stricken daughter. Local ngos suspect that she is planning to take Kamla to exploit her as a help. In return, Dr Margaret has promised to build a house for Kamla’s family. Her family is a travelling ‘circus family’ and have never had a house. They are in the process of trafficking their daughter in return for one.

Goa’s degeneration into a child sex tourism spot is complete. Child sex abusers and traffickers violate Indian law at will. They understand that money can buy them anything including fake Indian citizenship.

Tehelka reporters met a victim’s teacher. In this case, the paedophile paid money to the family to fund the victim’s tuition for two months. The victim, Sanju, and his abuser, a Frenchman called Bernard, are both known to the local community.

The teacher, whose identity is concealed for her safety, revealed that many children have been trafficked to Europe by foreigners. “They (foreigners) adopt poor migrant children and then send them abroad,” she said.

Despite all this, the government has virtually facilitated easy access to children by pederasts by allowing unregulated growth of shelter homes. Ever since the submission of the Ric Wood report on criminal sexual exploitation of children by foreign paedophiles, the government has actually enabled many unmonitored shelter homes to proliferate. In fact, the government has criminally violated its own enactment, the Goa Children’s Act by doing so.

Even shelter homes are perfect settings for abuse. It is unmonitored, unregulated and nobody actually knows what is going on. The Director of Women and Child Welfare, Ashok Kumar Wasnik, does not even have a list of shelter homes in Goa, mandatory under the Goa Children’s Act, 2003.

Tehelka met many children from Karnataka lodged in a shelter home in Saligao, near Anjuna Beach. One such shelter home, Victory House, is run by El Shaddai, which runs several shelter homes in Goa. An insider, Alexius Thomas, who himself is in the process of setting up a shelter home for children and other unwanted people, says that “the Goans know it is a scam and yet they don’t do anything.”

These shelter homes are run by an Indian who calls himself Pastor Matthews. Incidentally, the staff at these shelter homes told the Tehelka reporters that all the children in these shelter homes are sponsored by foreigners and that they are brought to the shelter homes during the tourists seasons and then sent back home after the season is over. This raises lots of questions. Primarily, if these boys are from poor broken families where do they go back to after the tourist season is over?
We infiltrated Victory House as researchers and were introduced to Rajappa, a child from Karnataka. Rajappa showed his brand new watch gifted to him by his sponsors Paul and Simone. He told us that the sponsors take children out to the beach and often treat them to lunch or dinner.

Clearly, the government does not bother to monitor the functioning of shelter homes. Even a basic background check of those wanting to open shelter homes is not done. One can walk in and walk out with a kid by throwing money. In Goa, which has emerged as a sex tourism spot, this is nothing short of a crime itself.


August 14, 2004

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