In developing countries like India, the problem of human trafficking is rising at a rapid pace. It may be an under-addressed issue, but possesses a great threat to the society, as well as the nation. It is one of the most highly escalating problems, but nothing much has been done to revamp the situation, which is primarily due to the lack of knowledge and awareness about it.
People who do not even know the magnitude of the problem that ‘human trafficking’ is. So, let me first explain what the term refers to.
Wikipedia defines human trafficking as “the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for trafficking or others.” In this process, men, women, and children are abducted and forcefully transferred to other places that can be within national, as well as international, boundaries.
The victims of this crime are mainly the poor who are more vulnerable to traffickers. What’s worse is that there are parents who are forced to become the traffickers, for, many daughters are sold or forced into prostitution at an early age.
Children are kidnapped and made to beg on the roads, or sell knick-knack on the streets, women are sold for commercial sex exploitation, small labourers are manipulated and convinced into believing that they would be provided with better quality jobs, and are instead sent to places where they are forced to work in miserable conditions.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, a total of 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in the year 2016 from across the country. As per the report, West Bengal had the highest share of over 44.01% of the total cases of human trafficking, followed by Rajasthan. Women accounted for over 65% of the victims trafficked in 2016. Nearly 11,000 people were arrested for human trafficking the same year.
But do you think that this report really discloses the actual scenario? There are many cases which go unreported, several FIRs are left unregistered. Innumerable people who need to be rescued, go unnoticed. Children from poor families are targeted since they do not have enough resources to get help from the authorities.
Trafficking of human being or persons is prohibited under Article 23(1) of the Constitution of India. Many laws and amendments are made by the government to combat this grave issue. Anti Trafficking Cell(ATC) was set up in 2006 to look after the issue, but nothing effective has been done yet. The Anti Trafficking Bill, 2018, has been passed recently in the parliament with a hope of bringing justice to many innocents.
There are many organisations like GuriaIndia, Shakti Vahini, etc, which have made a lot of efforts to rescue the victims of the crime. There are even cases when families of victims refuse to take the survivors back after they are rescued, because of the social stigma attached, hence there is a dire need to set up centres to look after those in need.
Human trafficking is a term that includes slavery, servitude and, forced labour. It includes scraping off the very basic rights to live with dignity and takes away the status of an individual, of being a human in the society, a societal failure that needs greater concern and more efforts. It has still not made itself pressing enough for the people in power, who run after issues that attract vote bank.
We, as conscious citizens, should be extra aware and empathetic towards the underprivileged. We can easily spot trafficked children by their behaviour, and can help them by collaborating with NGOs around us. It is only our proactive efforts and sufficient legal apparatus that can be a guiding force to eradicate this crime from its very roots.