What is human trafficking? In today’s date, we all have come across this term, in some way or the other. Be it through movies based on true stories or the daily dose of cases reported that come to us as news. So, what is it basically? In literary terms, human trafficking is the “illegal” trade of humans, mostly for the purposes sexual slavery, forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation. Yes, I’d like to highlight the term “illegal” because there are parts of the world, which also includes India, where humans are traded “legally’. YES, human trade can be and is legal. Can you believe that? Trade of human flesh, like some sort of barter system being followed! This was still the literal meaning. The meaning as defined by the victims? Can we even go there? Through all the traumatizing experiences they go through for the rest of their lives from being used as sex slaves, or being pushed into forced marriage or prostitution, or extraction of organs and removal of ova and all the brutal treatments this Mother of Universe has ever witnessed? This narration sounds like a dark horror movie with so many demons (the only difference being that in this real world, the humans are the real demons) yet the world seems like such a wonderful place to be in, doesn’t it?
Nearly 80% of the human trafficking cases across the world is done for sexual exploitation while the rest of the count goes into bonded labor and India tops the chart in this crime in Asia. The numbers of missing cases that are reported are actually only 30% of the actual count of missing cases. Also, there has not been a detailed study to extract the actual number of trafficked children in India. In different articles published by different newspapers, Jharkhand and Karnataka have been rated to be the states facing the maximum amount of human trafficking trade. What is more shocking is that the NCR is the hub for human trafficking trade in India which ends in forced marriage, bonded labor, prostitution. Delhi is also the transit point for human trafficking. It is considered to be the most organized crime after drugs and arms trafficking. So, what are the factors that contribute to such a grave crime that robs people of their dignity and basic rights and pushes them into a future so dark which eliminates the idea of seeing any light altogether?
Economic deprivation is one of the causes. Lack of education which benefits the traffickers to lure parents with false promises of education and jobs to their children to send them to different places. More than often, they end up in brothels. Dysfunctional families and poor awareness of human trafficking add to the causes. Corruption and lack of legal convictions in India also give a heads up to the traffickers. The high market demand for minor and young girls is the reason behind the increased rate of their trafficking for sexual exploitation. The foreign tourists prefer for both their youthful preferences and their submissiveness to them. In many regions in India, females are traded not only for prostitution but they are also sold like entities in areas where the female ratio is very less as compared to the male ratio as a result of female infanticide.
The government of India has an act known as the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) which penalizes trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. It has a penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. Child labor Act, Juvenile justice Act, Bonded labor act prohibits bonded labor and forced labor. Prohibition of kidnapping and selling minors to brothels and to arrest traffickers, Indian authorities use sections 366(A) and 372 of the Indian Penal Code. The penalty under these sections is imprisonment of a maximum up to 10 years and a fine. However, corrupt officers play their roles in protecting brothels and facilitating human trafficking and there are no checks to prevent government officials from indulging themselves in human trafficking. There are several acts that have been passed for the prevention of human trafficking but there is a huge difference between enactment and enforcement of these acts. There is a huge gap and no bridge as such and even if there is any, corruption and the callous attitude of people eat it up.
Even amidst all these vultures trading in human flesh and corrupt officials facilitating it, there are people in India who actually take a stand and protect the victims of human trafficking. The government provides compensation to the victims of human trafficking for rehabilitation and also, the rehabilitation funds are sporadic. Some of the states provide services to the victims. The NGOs are the people who play an active role in protecting the victims. However, the government’s treatment towards the victims trafficked abroad or foreign victims trafficked in India is rather insensitive.