Human Trafficking

As per the definition given by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)-‘Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.’

Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. This is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.

Forms of Trafficking 

There are many forms of trafficking, but one consistent aspect is the abuse of the inherent vulnerability of the victims.

• Trafficking for forced labour:

Victims are recruited and trafficked using deception and coercion and find themselves held in condition of slavery in a variety of jobs. Men, women, and children are engaged in agricultural, fisheries and construction work, along with domestic servitude and other labour- intensive jobs.

• Trafficking in women for sexual exploitation:

This affects every region in the world, either as a source, transit or destination country. Women and children from vulnerable part of the society in developed countries are lured by promises by decent employment into leaving their homes and travelling to what they will consider to be the better life. Victims are often provided with false travel documents and an organized network is used to transport them to the destination country, where they find themselves forced into sexual slavery and held in inhumane conditions and constant fear. 

• Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism:

This has been apparent in Asia for many years and now taken hold in Africa as well as Central and South America. The phenomenon is prompted by the growth of inexpensive air travel and relatively low risk of prohibition and prosecution in these destinations for engaging in sexual relations with minors.

• Trafficking for tissue, cells and organs:

Trafficking in humans for the purpose of using their organs, in particular kidneys is a rapidly growing field of criminal activity. In many countries, waiting lists for transplants are very long and criminals have seized their opportunity to exploit the desperation of patients and potential donors. The health of victims, even their lives, is at risk operations may be carried out in clandestine conditions with no medical follow-up. An ageing population and increase incidence of diabetes in many developed countries is likely to increase the requirement for organ transplant and make this crime even more lucrative.

• People Smuggling:

Closely connected to trafficking in human beings is the issue of people smuggling in which smugglers procure for financial or material gain, the illegal entry of an individual into a country of which he is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident. In this case once the payment is completed, the relationship between the migrant and the smuggler is terminated.  This has taken as new proportions in recent months, especially in the Mediterranean regions, and it is clear that organized criminal networks are taking advantages of the humanitarian crisis for financial gain. Transnational organized crime groups facilitate the passage of migrants across borders in return for payment, with little or no regard for their safety and wellbeing. 

Human Trafficking In India

As per official estimates, 15 children go missing every hour in India and 8 are never found. As per the data from Home Ministry, 1379 cases of human trafficking were reported from Karnataka in the period of four years, in Tamil Nadu the number is 2,244 whereas Andhra Pradesh has 2,157 cases of human trafficking.  Delhi is the hotspot for illegal trade of young girls for domestic labour, forced marriage and prostitution.

Human trafficking outside India, although illegal under Indian law, remains a significant problem. People are frequently illegally trafficked through India for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced/bonded labour. Although no reliable study of forced and bonded labour has been completed,  NGOs. Estimate this problem affects 20 to 65 million women and girls are trafficked within the country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage especially in those areas where the sex ratio is highly skewed in favour of men. A significant portion of children are subjected to forced labour as factory workers, domestic servants, beggars, and agriculture workers, and have been used as armed combatants by some terrorist and insurgent groups.

India is also a destination for women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. 

India has ratified the three protocols of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including the UN Trafficking Protocol.

India’s government policies

• Ujjawala: A comprehensive scheme for prevention of Trafficking and Rescue and Rehabilitation and Re-integration of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitations.

• Sudhar Greh: A Scheme for women in difficult circumstances.

• Juvenile Justice (care and protecting of children) Act 2002: Act defines, a child in need of care and protection to include a child “who is found vulnerable and is likely to be inducted into . . . trafficking. The Act establishes procedures for the recovery and social reintegration of such children, including the creation of The Act establishes procedures for the recovery and social reintegration of such children, including the creation of shelter homes and the provision of foster-care services. However, this scheme only applies to minors defined as persons below the age of 18 years.

• Code of Criminal Procedure: Responsibility for providing compensation to trafficking victims is fragmented between the central 93 government and individual states. This is largely the result of Section 357, Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that the Central Government should be responsible for compensating victims of any crime (not limited to trafficking) who have suffered loss or injury. However, it fails to note the form or degree of such compensation.

“(1) When a Court imposes a sentence of fine or a sentence (including a sentence of death) of which fine forms a part, the Court may, when passing judgment order the whole or any part of the fine recovered to be applied . (b) in the payment to any person of compensation for any loss or injury caused by the offence, which compensation is, the opinion of the Court, recoverable by such person in a Civil Court . “

Issues in policy implementation

India’s trafficking recovery laws and policies are piecemeal and haphazardly applied moreover, Lack of coordination among the police and government agencies.  for eg. the holding facilities for rescued trafficked girls often have miserable conditions and may be worse than the brothels in which they had previously been housed. Male victims of human trafficking face a double barrier to protection because not only are they less easily identified and thus less likely to be rescued, but they are also left without any recourse after they have been rescued from their traffickers.

 In 2013, India enacted groundbreaking legislation, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 (hereinafter 4 referred to as the Amendment Act), which amended various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including provisions on human trafficking in India. These reforms reflect a step towards aligning the country with its obligations under the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (UN Trafficking Protocol).

UNODC's Response to Human Trafficking

UNODC offers practical help to States, not only helping to draft laws and create comprehensive national anti-trafficking strategies but also assisting with resources to implement them. States receive specialized assistance including the development of local capacity and expertise, as well as practical tools to encourage cross-border cooperation in investigations and prosecutions.

The adoption in 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children marked a significant milestone in international efforts to stop the trade in people. 

A vast majority of States have now signed and ratified the Protocol. But translating it into reality remains problematic. Very few criminals are convicted and most victims are probably never identified or assisted.