[RESEARCH] Human Trafficking In India: How It Happens, What To Do

Posted on January 3, 2011 in Society

By Shivani Singh:

It’s hard to imagine that a world which talks about love, peace and brotherhood amongst fellow human beings has a dark secret staring and mocking at its true reality. India is listed in the Tier II list of the UN which includes countries which have failed to combat human trafficking. The concept of trafficking denotes a trade in something that should not be traded in. Human trafficking as defined by the UN is, “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 service, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

It is a really sad situation which India is facing. In almost every city there are certain parts filled with brothels. Human trafficking includes sexual exploitation, labour trafficking, etc. Nowadays even cross-border human trafficking is prevalent. India has a huge population and because of that and our dwindling economy many people live below the poverty line. The smugglers and traffickers promise them a better life- a ray of hope, jobs as domestic servants, in the film world or in factories. They can offer them money, pleasure trip invitations or false promises of marriage.

The main targets are the people who lack job opportunities, who have been victim to regional imbalances or social discrimination, mentally disturbed, or the people who have growing deprivation and are from the marginalized communities or people caught in debt bondages or because their parents think that their children are burden and sell them off — in simple words- the poor, helpless people are the ones who are exploited the most.

It has now become an organized institution and we as youth have to do everything to remove this social vice from our country because the deliberate institutionalized trafficking of human life is the greatest degradation to the dignity of human personality. Human trafficking happens because of a simple concept which the traffickers believe in- that the human body is a expendable, reusable “commodity”. Several things happen during a “human being sale” from selecting, tricking, intimidation and deception of the victim to the transportation of them to the “location”. Then comes the possible change to the “central place” where the actual trafficking takes place in large numbers, there are many elements involved.

The recruiters are the first in the chain —often called as the “dalals” — they may be parents, neighbours, relatives or lovers or people who have been trafficked before. The dalals move to the “potential sites” for victims which mostly are the poverty-stricken areas where there has been no proper rehabilitation and then they haunt the bus stops, railway stations, streets, etc. The period they choose for trafficking depends on if that place has suffered a drought or social or political disasters recently, so that it would be easier to lure in the already suffering victims. The dalals use drugs, abduction, kidnapping, persuasion or deception to bag the targets.

The dalals usually happen to know many languages, including the local one, so that they become closer to the victim. Because in India corruption is so deep rooted, the network of such people sometimes includes the police, the visa/passport officials, taxi/auto rickshaw drivers, etc. They hand the victims to the brothel owners, escort services, or managers of a sex establishment. The reasons for human trafficking are many, despite 60 years of independence, the benefits of economic development have not trickled down to the marginalized sections of the society and millions of people still live below the poverty line. The poverty and hunger makes children and women belonging to the poor sections of the society highly vulnerable to human trafficking. Social and religious practices too have been a big cause. There is an inexplicable apathy in the approach of law enforcement agencies when it comes to dealing with human trafficking. Purposes include forced prostitution, marriage, domestic labour, bonded labour, agricultural labour, industrial labour, entertainment, begging, adoption, drug smuggling and peddling and organ transplants .As India sees towards the world, it leaves behind the scars on its ground —the poor who are exploited .

We can take help of the media-spread awareness. The government, in association with the NGO’s, is taking steps to improve the situation but this much is NOT enough. We as youngsters should stop this. Even little things like helping out the malnourished, poor or treating the house maids properly can make a difference because they form the major causes for human trafficking. Multinational enterprises that enter the Indian economy can lead by example.  They can refuse to do business with companies that knowingly engage in the inhumane practices of employing bonded laborers.

The Indian government has laid down laws in the Constitution like the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956, The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, and many others . In September 2006, the Indian government responded to the trafficking issue by creating a central anti-trafficking law enforcement “nodal cell.” The nodal cell is a federal two-person department responsible for collecting and performing analysis of data related to trafficking, identifying the causes of the problem, monitoring action taken by state governments, and holding meetings with state-level law enforcement.  In 2007, three state governments established anti-trafficking police units, the first of this kind in the India.

The emerging scenarios are certainly positive but displaying full-page advertisements against child labour, women slaves, etc in national newspapers at periodic intervals is not enough. We have to wake up before it’s too late. We can take up community surveillances which will help check ongoing trafficking activities. Establishing women’s groups which will help take care of the women in the underprivileged societies since women and girls are the most affected victims. We as the youth can take up initiatives to spread awareness programs in villages, local schools, among kids of the poor society and children suffering from parents and poor conditions where help can be provided.

Another initiative which can be taken up is the involvement of the trafficked victims and helping them tell their story so that this kind of inhuman treatment doesn’t happen to others. Human trafficking lowers the value of human life; it brutalizes the society and violates our belief in the human capacity for a change. So let’s work for a better future for our country and CHANGE- something that India only talks about, let’s turn it into reality.