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
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