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Human Trafficking in India

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    8th Nov, 2021


Human trafficking is one of the most distressing problems faced by many countries in the world.  Currently, India is facing a huge challenge in curbing the menace of trafficking.

What is Human Trafficking?

  • According to the UNODC, Human Trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, to exploit them for profit. 
  • Human trafficking involves recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, for exploitation.
  • Exploitation includes, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.

Severity of the problem (at global level)

  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report, 2019 shows that 60% of the trafficking occurs internally in a country. As per the UNODC report,
    • 90% of the sexual victims are women and girls.
    • In the South Asia region, 85% of the victims are exploited for forced labor.
  • Human trafficking is the third most challenging crime in the world in terms of turnover and human misery. The first is drugs and the second is weapons.

Causes of trafficking

Some of the causes or reasons for human trafficking are described below.

  • Poverty
    • Trafficking grows at places where there is widespread poverty.
    • Unfortunately, Parents sell their kids because lack of access to income and necessities and this leaves them with no other choice often thinking that selling their children will take them to much better places and where their lives will improve. 
  • Social factors
    • One of the most vulnerable sections of the society that are more prone to trafficking are young women, and this is because in most societies both socially and culturally women are de-valued and unwanted, and as such, they are more vulnerable to the practice of trafficking.
  • Migration
    • The yearning to migrate from places where their lives are miserable makes individuals open to approaches from traffickers who in the beginning stages lure them with promises of better lives, but once the victims came under their control, coercive measures are enforced to bend them.
  • Other factors
    • Other causes are the permeable nature of borders, corrupt government officials, the involvement of international organized criminal groups or nexus, and the limited capacity of or commitment by immigration and law enforcement officers to control borders.

Legal and Constitutional Frameworks to Counter Human Trafficking in India

Constitution of India

  • Article 23 prohibits human trafficking and beggar(forced labor without payment).

  • Article 24forbids the employment of children below the age of 14 years in dangerous jobs like factories and mines.

Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986

The purpose of this Act is to give effect to the Trafficking Convention and to prohibit immoral human trafficking.

It constitutes authorities at the centre and state level to combat trafficking. However, it does not elaborate on the role, function, and composition of these authorities

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 

  • It has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking.

Way Forward

Foresight and preparedness amid the current lockdown can save the lives of crores of women, men, and children and avoid an impending humanitarian crisis

  • Collaboration is key: A lot of work needs to be done collaboratively, between key stakeholders such as the government and civil society organizations, for any substantial change to be seen.
  • Assessment and review of legal framework:The central government must assess the existing criminal law on trafficking and its ability to counter the crime and meet the needs of the victim. The lapsed anti-trafficking bill needs to be amended and passed in Parliament urgently.
  • Increase in budgetary allocation for law enforcement and victim rehabilitation: There is a gross deficit in the budgetary allocation to combat human trafficking. 
  • Curbing the rise of online Child Sexual Abuse material: The upsurge of child sexual abuse material and its easy access can only be controlled by placing greater accountability on Internet Service Providers and digital platforms that host this content. They must be accountable to not only identify and remove content but also to trace its source and cooperate with law enforcement to crack down on its supply and demand.
  • Spreading a wide safety net in source areas of trafficking:Schools, communities, religious authorities, and the local administration need to recognize and control trafficking and bonded labor in villages. 

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