Need for action against Human Trafficking in India
Among the many human rights violations, which take place on a regular basis in India, the statistics on human trafficking bring forward the urgent need to prioritize it and address it. India is regularly quoted as being the “epicenter of human trafficking”, with over 100 million adult victims and an additional 1.2 million who are child prostitutes. The United Nations has called India as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and judging by the prevalence of trafficking, increase in IDP [internally displaced population], and rise in sexual violence against women and children, this appears to be a true enough statement.
Due to it being the second most densely-populated country in the world, India as a country is riddled with problems which add to the vulnerability of its citizens. From overpopulation to illiteracy and poverty, to the lack of basic living facilities, a majority of Indian citizens live in abject poverty with little or no source of sustenance. This leads to the selling of girls, prostitution, and other activities, which increase the vulnerability of the country’s youngest, most vulnerable citizens. A majority of child trafficking is linked to families who willingly sell their children to traffickers in exchange for money, the amount of which range from $ 25 to $ 200. For the girl child in India, the torture endured is worse; virgins are in great demand around the world, and border states within the country are notorious for smuggling young girls as young as 3, into neighboring countries where they will be used as sex slaves, or domestic help. Unsurprisingly, the influx of trafficked people from the same neighboring states also takes place; Nepalese and Bangladeshis are especially vulnerable.
The system, which tackles human trafficking in India, is existent, but due to aforementioned factors, is ineffective. The ratio of police to citizens is 1 policeman per 12,000 citizens, which paints a dismal picture as to the former’s ability to patrol and tackle cases efficiently. It has been taken for granted that human trafficking and sex trafficking are things, which will continue, due to a booming market for sex become part of one of many exploitative industries.
One should not, however, restrict focus only to the sex industry; the begging and child labor industry are big markets for trafficking victims, young and old. Seen as cheap labor with no rights [due to no paperwork or legal citizenship], the victims are made to work long hours in inhumane conditions, under employees who have no regard or responsibility for their general welfare.
India’s Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act [ITPA], Bonded Labor Abolition Act, Juvenile Justice Act, and Child Labor Act, along with Sections 372 and 366 (A) of the Indian Penal Code have penalties involving prison time of up to 10 years for wrongful confinement, kidnapping, and commercial sexual exploitation, but these too, have had limited success in actually reducing the instances of human trafficking with the country and it’s border states. Minorities of victims of trafficking receive up to $ 185 for the purpose of rehabilitation of their lives, but this process too, is poorly executed, as the system is yet to take the issue seriously enough to have an effective response and rehabilitation system in place.
The issue of human trafficking in India, therefore, is a grave one, with an estimated 90% of it taking place internally, as per a report by the US State Department. It is important for the system and its citizens to realize the need to reevaluate and improve the current response and action plan associated with rescuing and rehabilitating victims of trafficking, and to issue more stringent legal action against those who carry out these heinous crimes against humanity.