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Gist Of Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV): War Against Human Trafficking

  • Published
    3rd Aug, 2019

Introduction

Human Trafficking has emerged as a significant problem all across the world. It is a crime wherein victims are bought and sold for their exploitation. The World Day against Trafficking in Persons is observed every year on 30th July.

In 2010 UN General Assembly had adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons to encourage the international community to take action against this henious crime. According to the Global report on trafficking in persons released by UN office on Drugs and Crime countries are now detecting and reporting more victims and at the same time convicting more traffickers . This report also says that most vulnerable individuals are women and girls with majority of victims being trafficked for sexual exploitation and 35 percent of those trafficked for forced labour being female.

Human trafficking is prohibited in India under Article 23 (1) of the Constitution and Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 is the premier legislation to deal with this issue.  Govt is now planning to reintroduce a comprehensive bill to check human trafficking. The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 was passed by the lower house last year but has now lapsed after dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha.

What is Human Trafficking?

  • According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Trafficking in Persons is defined 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.

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM THE DEBATE

Question - What is severity of the problem of Human Trafficking at the global as well as National Level?

Global

  • The 2018 edition of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons is based on information collected from 142 countries, encompassing more than 94 per cent of the world’s population. The report highlights the following details:
    • Countries have reported an increased numbers of detected trafficking victims over the last few years.
    • Most trafficking victims are detected in their countries of citizenship.
    • Trafficking for forced labour is the most commonly detected form in sub-Saharan Africa. In the Middle East, forced labour is also the main form of trafficking detected, mainly involving adults.
    • Trafficking for forced marriage, for example, is more commonly detected in parts of South-East Asia, while trafficking of children for illegal adoption is recorded in Central and South American countries.
    • Trafficking for forced criminality is mainly reported in Western and Southern Europe, while trafficking for organ removal is primarily detected in North Africa, Central and South-Eastern Europe, and Eastern Europe.
    • Many other forms, such as trafficking for exploitation in begging or for the production of pornographic material, are reported in different parts of the world.
    • There is scarce information on the forms of exploitation for trafficking cases detected in South Asia, which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally.
  • 81% of them are trapped in forced labour.
  • 25% of them are children.
  • 75% are women and girls.

Problem of Human Trafficking in India

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 8,132 human trafficking cases were reported in India in 2016 under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • In the same year, 23,117 trafficking victims were rescued. Of these, the highest number of persons were trafficked for forced labour (45.5%), followed by prostitution (21.5%).

State-Wise Analysis

  • According to the last available report of the National Crime Record Bureau for the year 2016, out of 8,132 cases of human trafficking recorded in the country, 3,579 cases (around 44%) were from West Bengal alone. More specifically, the Sunderbans area is the most vulnerable area because people are migrating out from that area due to lack of jobs in that area.
  • Andhra Pradesh stands second in the country in human trafficking with 14.73% of sex workers operating in about 12 States and territories across the country, according to a recent survey conducted by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Question:

What we have been doing to address the problem and how successful we are in our endeavour?

  • India has been a late starter in the area of trafficking. Justice J S Verma Committee was the first to suggest the insertion of Section 370 IPC, dedicated to trafficking crimes. For the first time, we had a dedicated section.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs' scheme: Ministry of Home Affairs under a Comprehensive Scheme has released fund for establishment of Anti Human Trafficking Units for 270 districts of the country.
  • Strengthening the capacity building: To enhance the capacity building of law enforcement agencies and generate awareness among them, various Training of Trainers (TOT) workshops on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for Police officers and for Prosecutors at Regional level, State level and District level were held throughout the country.
  • Judicial Colloquium: In order to train and sensitize the trial court judicial officers, Judicial Colloquium on human trafficking is held at the High court level. The aim is to sensitize the judicial officers about the various issues concerning human trafficking and to ensure speedy court process.
  • India has ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNCTOC) which has as one of its Protocols Prevention, Suppression and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons, particularly Women and Children.
  • India has ratified the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution. A Regional Task Force was constituted to implement the SAARC Convention.
  • For dealing with cross border trafficking and to address the various issues relating to prevention of Trafficking, victim identification and repatriation and make the process speedy and victim-friendly between India and Bangladesh, a Task Force of India and Bangladesh was constituted. So far five meetings of Task force between India and Bangladesh have been held. Fifth meeting was held on 17-18 August, 2015 at Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • Jharkhand has included trafficking related aspects in the curriculum of the school education to raise awareness.

Despite so many initiatives, why this problem is still so prevalent in India?

  • Multiple Laws: In India, the offence of trafficking is dealt with under more than 25 laws. Some of them are Sections 366A, 366B, 370, 374 of IPC, Juvenile Justice Act, and Prevention of Child Labour Act etc. As a result, the cases related to trafficking are registered under multiple laws. Due to this, articulation of data related to this crime is not done under a single offence.
  • Social Media: It is becoming the new tool for human trafficking. Now, the trafficker no longer has to physically travel to a girl to pull her into the trap of trafficking.
  • Lack of Authentic Data: The Global Report on Trafficking of Persons have signalled scarcity of information on the forms of exploitation for trafficking cases detected in South Asia. This impacts the strategies, policies and resources which should be allocated to tackle the crime. Unless the scale of the problem is not understood, making informed policies for the problem is a futile task.
  • No Time Bound Response: When victims are rescued by the police agencies, they are kept in custody for several years without being rehabilitated into the mainstream society. This is because there is no bound trial and rehabilitation mechanism in the law for rescued victims.
  • Less focus on prevention: Current legal and institutional framework emphasis more on post-crime scenarios. As a result, there is a continued increase in the number of trafficked victims.
  • Lack of Society Participation: Nithari Killings and the Muzaffapur Shelter Home Rape Case are the most infamous examples of intra-country trafficking, where children were being kidnapped and exploited under the broad daylight. The lack of awareness among the people is one of the factor which let such crimes to happen because people often do not report such a suspicious activity when they are not aware and motivated to report.
  • Nexus: There is a vast nexus of traffickers which are very much penetrated into the very basic activities of daily life. Like, when girls go to mobile recharge centres, the network of mobile recharge centre owner with traffickers circulates the number of the girl to the trafficker and it get easy for him to pull her into the trap.

 

Way forward

  • Collective Participation: Synergy between civil society, police and the government is the bottom-line. There has to be a time bound response to the rehabilitation of victims of trafficking. Until the last person is rescued and rehabilitate and perpetrators are brought to justice, the war against human trafficking is not complete.
  • Data Articulation: Data reporting needs to be improved upon because national reporting raises the public confidence that the government going beyond its commitment and action is also happening.
  • Awareness: Children must be educated on the crime of trafficking through parental guidance and school education system.
  • Improve Conviction Rate: The judicial system must increase prosecutions and convictions for all forms of trafficking, including forced and bonded labour.
  • Identification: The government should increase efforts to identify victims proactively to include disseminating and implementing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to harmonize victim identification and referral, and training officials on their use; cease the penalization of trafficking victims..
  • The government must lift the ban on female labour migration to certain countries. It will discourage migration through undocumented channels.

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