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29th May 2024 (10 Topics)

Human Trafficking in India


The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested five individuals in connection with their alleged involvement in international human trafficking and cyber fraud activities. They were allegedly coerced into engaging in various illegal online activities, including credit card fraud, investments in cryptocurrency using fake applications, honey trapping, etc., 

What is Human Trafficking?

  • According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of people through force, fraud, or deception to exploit them for profit.
  • This exploitation includes sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.

Global Severity: The UNODC's 2019 report reveals that 60% of trafficking occurs within a country. Key statistics include:

  • 90% of sexual trafficking victims are women and girls.
  • In South Asia, 85% of victims are exploited for forced labor.
  • Human trafficking is the third most challenging crime globally, following drugs and weapons in terms of turnover and human misery.

Causes of Human Trafficking

  • Poverty: Trafficking thrives in areas with widespread poverty. Desperate parents might sell their children, believing it will lead to a better life for them.
  • Social Factors: Young women are particularly vulnerable due to social and cultural devaluation, making them easy targets for traffickers.
  • Migration: Individuals seeking better lives are often lured by traffickers with false promises. Once under the traffickers' control, coercive measures are used to exploit them.
  • Climate change, including sudden-onset disasters such as floods and slow-onset events like drought, increased large-scale displacement and migration, further exacerbating vulnerabilities to human trafficking.
  • Other Factors: Permeable borders, corrupt officials, involvement of international criminal groups, limited capacity or commitment of immigration and law enforcement officers.
Reason behind India’s vulnerability to human trafficking
  • Border: In India, West Bengal has long served as a major hubfor both domestic and International human trafficking, largely due to the state's areas of poverty and its porous 2,216.7-kilometre border with Bangladesh. It also shares borders with Nepal and Bhutan.
  • Geographical proximity with opium growing regions: India is placed between the two largest opium growing areas in the world. 
    • To the west is the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan)
    • To the east is the Golden Triangle (Myanmar)
Fact Box: Legal and Constitutional Frameworks to Counter Human Trafficking in India
  • Article 23: Prohibits human trafficking and forced labor (begar).
  • Article 24: Forbids the employment of children below 14 years in hazardous jobs like factories and mines.
  • Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986: This Act aims to implement the Trafficking Convention and prohibit immoral human trafficking. It establishes authorities at the central and state levels to combat trafficking, though it does not specify their roles, functions, or composition.
  • Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013: This amendment replaces Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code with Sections 370 and 370A, providing comprehensive measures to counter human trafficking.
  • Section 370 of the IPC criminalises the import, export, removal, buying, selling or disposal of any person as a slave or accepting, receiving or detaining against the person's will as a slave. The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), to replace IPC, has introduced beggary as a form of exploration for trafficking.

However, conviction rate in human trafficking cases stood at 19. 4 per cent in 2022.


Q: India’s proximity to two of the world’s biggest illicit opium-growing states has enhanced her internal security concerns. Explain the linkages between drug trafficking and other illicit activities such as gunrunning, money laundering and human trafficking. What countermeasures should be taken to prevent the same? (2018)

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