By Nithin Sridhar
In a country that is rooted in the principles of dharma (righteousness), the incident of a 17-year- old Delhi girl who was allegedly lured to Jaipur on the pretext of helping her land a job but instead was sold and raped for two days, depicts a ground situation that is completely in contrast with the national ethos.
A majority of social crimes are targeted at women and children. Along with sexual harassment, dowry, and voyeurism that women have to face day in and day out, another serious issue that affects women as well as children is the issue of human trafficking.
The National Crime Records Bureau in its 2013 report records a total of 3,940 incidents of human trafficking across India that were reported with the police. In 2009, such reported incidents were 2,848. That is, an increase of 38.3% can be noted between 2009 and 2013. Out of those 3,940 cases, 1,224 cases were those of trafficking minor girls.
Human trafficking basically refers to transportation of a person from one place to another, followed by his/her exploitation and commercialization. Such a transportation may be done using force, inducement, or coercion and the trafficked person may be pushed into prostitution, domestic labor, bonded labor, or sold to foreign customers.
Goa Children’s Act, 2003 defines child trafficking as, “Child trafficking means the procurement, recruitment, transportation, transfer,harboring or receipt of children legally or illegally, within or across borders, by means of 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 giving orreceiving payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control overanother person, for monetary gain or otherwise.” Though this is a definition of child-trafficking, it can easily be applied to any form of trafficking.
In other words, human trafficking can be considered as a mother of crimes, as it involves elements of many other crimes like kidnapping, rape, prostitution, child labor, bonded labor etc.
Elaborating on this aspect of human trafficking, Dr PM Nair in his 2007 handbook on trafficking, writes: “Human trafficking is a crime of crimes. It is a basket of crimes. In this basket one can dig out the elements of abduction, kidnapping, illegal detainment, illegal confinement, criminal intimidation, hurt, grievous hurt, sexual assault, outraging modesty, rape, unnatural offences, selling and buying of human beings, servitude, criminal conspiracy, abetment etc. Therefore, multiple abuse and abusers located at different points of time and place together constitute the organized crime of trafficking. A host of human rights violations like denial of privacy, denial of justice, denial of access to justice, deprivation of basic rights and dignity etc. constitute other part of the exploitation. Therefore, there is no doubt that trafficking is an organized crime.”
Human trafficking is a very heinous crime and a blatant violation of human rights. It brings out a human mentality that has fallen so low as to exploit another human being and in many cases they are just small children. Human trafficking must not be looked in isolation but instead it should be considered as a source of supply that fulfills the demand put forward by other social ills like child labor, prostitution, and bonded labor.
Prostitution is the single important reason why women and children are trafficked. A large number of trafficked children are sold to brothels, escort agencies, or abroad. The unscrupulous factory and mill owners who purchase children and women labors for their factories and mills are also to be held responsible.
Similarly, many rich people purchase domestic labors. A large number of women and children are trafficked to foreign countries for domestic labor as well as for sexual slavery. The minor girls are also trafficked to supply brides to certain states wherein there is a scarcity of women. All these various other crimes provide the demand that is fulfilled by human trafficking. Trafficked people are also employed by the mafia that controls begging.
Though the cases of human trafficking that are registered with the police are low, a US “Trafficking in Persons Report,” 2015 states that millions of women and children are victims of sex-trafficking in India. It says the prime destinations for female trafficking victims are Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, and the India-Nepal border.
In order to tackle this multi-dimensional organized crime of human trafficking, the measures that are adopted must be multi-dimensional as well. The US report recommends that India should stop penalizing the victims of trafficking and should increase the prosecution and conviction of perpetrators of all kinds of human trafficking including those of bonded labors. It further suggests that India should provide more manpower and resources to Anti-Human Trafficking Units. The state and central governments should effectively implement various protection programs for the victims and fast-track courts must be established to ensure speedy closure of the cases. The report also suggested the government to strictly penalize all official who are complicit in trafficking.
Other measures like spreading education and moral values will have long-term effect in reducing social ills. The government should also work with NGOs to prevent the trafficking at the source. Dr PM Nair suggests adoption of an integrated and comprehensive approach to deal with trafficking. He says trafficking should be dealt through persecution, protection, and prevention. With regard to prevention, he says the government should prevent trafficking not only at source but also at the place of demand as well as during transit. He states that those who are involved directly or indirectly in generating the demand i.e. customers, financers, abettors and others should all be prosecuted. He also adds that the government should take measures to prevent re-trafficking of the rescued victims.
Consequently, through a series of measures like proper monitoring, proper prosecution and others, India can go a long way in slowly reducing the rate of trafficking. It is a duty of every human to put best possible efforts towards weeding out this inhuman practice of trafficking from the society.