Human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, for extraction of human organs, surrogacy, forced marriage, sexual slavery or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker. Human trafficking is a major concern for India. Women and girls are trafficked within and outside the country for sexual exploitation and forced marriage especially in regions where the sex ratio is highly skewed. Women from Nepal and Bhutan are trafficked in India for commercial sexual exploitation and Indian Women are trafficked to the Middle East. Trafficking leads to women suffering from mental and physical problems. The victims suffer from anxiety, depression and mental disorder and the women forced into having sexual relations are at a higher risk of HIV and other STDs.
According to a recent survey girls and women are sourced from Dindigal, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, and Chengalpattu in TamilNadu, Gaya, Kishanganj, Patna, Katihar, Purnea, Araria and Madhubani from Bihar, Murshidabad and 24 Parganas in West Bengal, Maharajgunj from UP, Dholpur, Alwar, Tonk from Rajasthan, Mangalore, and Gulbarga and Raichur from Karnataka. Over the years, South India has become the hot spot of human trafficking with Karnataka reporting third highest number of cases of trafficking during 2009-12. These women are supplied to Thailand, Kenya, South Africa and Middle East countries like Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, Britain, South Korea and Philippines. The women are either sold off through fake marriages or by their families for money or are voluntary sex workers due to lack of employment opportunities.
In a study in 2008 by La Strada International, a leading European NGO, they said, “Poverty, unemployment and a cultural context in which violence against women is tolerated are among the most important causes of trafficking. Another important factor is the demand for cheap labor and services in female-designated sectors of work. As the UN Rapporteur on Violence against Women noted, ‘the lack of rights afforded to women serves as the primary causative factor at the root of both women’s migration and trafficking in women […]. By failing to protect and promote women’s civil, political, economic and social rights, Governments create situations in which trafficking flourishes.”
According to the United Nations, every year 4 million plus people are trafficked around the world and with the rise in globalization there is a rise in trafficking of women from the poor to wealthier nations. In India girls are sold from poor regions such as Assam, Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Eastern UP to Mewat, a district in Haryana as sex slaves. These girls are locally referred to as ‘Paros’ i.e. one from across the Yamuna and the number of ‘Paros’ in Mewat is around 15-50 thousand.
The major causes of trafficking depend on different regions. There are two types of trafficking causes, local and international.
Local Causes of trafficking are:
- Hopeless poverty, especially among women.
- Lack of political, social and economical stability.
- Lack of any real future prospects
- Armed conflicts and oppression in the region
- Domestic violence and disintegrated family structure
- Gender discrimination
- Lack of education and information
- Lack of awareness of the dangers of trafficking
- High profit for the criminals involved in trafficking
- Lack of proper anti-trafficking legislation or lack of effective enforcement of the same.
- Economic policies that promote exclusion of marginalized people of the society.
- Corruption in countries in which trafficking takes place- origin, transit and destination.
Human Trafficking is a sensitive issue which must be dealt with as soon as possible. Putting banners and making laws won’t help the most important part of the society- human beings. We need to be alert. The ways to effectively prevent this inhuman crime are:
1. Learn the signs of possible human trafficking victim. The usual signs are:
- Living with employer or in poor conditions
- Many people living in cramped spaces
- Unable to speak to anyone individually and alone
- Answers seem to be rehearsed and scripted
- Employer has the identity documents
- Signs of physical abuse or fear
Under 18 and ill pad
2. The police should keep a book of old traffickers and confiscate their illegal assets.
3. Prosecution and Protection- Prosecuting the traffickers and protecting the victims by providing healthy opportunities for their future is the most effective way to help the victims.
4.The government should focus on efforts to eradicate poverty, illiteracy and unemployment.
5. Education and opportunities for the vulnerable groups of the society.
6.Gender discrimination needs to be dealt with harshly and the society should work towards gender neutrality.
7.Natural or Man made calamities usually worsen the originally vulnerable situation and bring out many more hostile groups.Thus, proper relief programs for resettlement are essential.
8. Proper communication and partnership between the individuals of the society, NGOs, police and the government.
9. Creating legal awareness is necessary because without it social activism is hardly of any use.
10. Immigration officials need to be sensitized.
11. Proper working help-lines and help booths to help anyone who is distressed.
India has the world’s largest human trafficking problem. India has been warned four times in history by the United States that it would be added to the blacklist of countries deemed not meeting minimum standards in fighting the scourge of “modern-day slavery.” This warning was given in 2007. In 2014 again, the US Secretary of state, John Kerry, says that India is a source, destination and transit for human trafficking and the US asked the government to prosecute officials who were allegedly a part of trafficking and punish the guilty. The Indian section of the report did note some improvements in victim care, rehabilitation and compensation but these services are inconsistent and the quality is substandard.
The world is getting smaller yet the crimes are getting bigger. But maybe it is because we are becoming more individualistic rather than being more communitarian. It is high time that we wake up from this somber sleep of selfishness and corruption and rise against inhumanity of every kind.