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Human Trafficking – A Vicious Trade

“People were created to be loved, things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used”.

Forced labour, forced begging, forced organ removal, sounds horrifying, doesn’t it? Yet it is happening all around the globe, ruthlessly. Got a clue? Yes, I’m talking about Human Trafficking.

Although, prohibited under Article 23(1), of the Constitution of India; it remains a significant problem in this modern, advanced, civilised, and awakened 21st era of society. Human trafficking involves recruitment, harbouring or transporting people into a situation of exploitation by way of violence, deception or coercion and forced to work against their will. In simpler words, trafficking is a process of enslaving people, coercing them into a situation having no way out and exploiting them. Trafficking necessarily doesn’t mean transporting people across national boundaries, it can even occur at a national level, within a country or community. People often confuse smuggling and trafficking as one and the same thing, but that’s not correct. Smuggling means transporting or exporting people illegally across international boundaries and once exported, they are made free on payment of fees. But human trafficking involves transporting humans as objects and enslaving them for their entire lives against their will. Only 1 in 10 trafficked people are moved out of their own countries. The majority of them stay inside their own countries. Generally, they are trafficked from a less developed country to a wealthier one, so the traffickers can make more profit.

Human trafficking can happen to anyone, but some people are more vulnerable than others. Significant risk factors include recent migration or relocation, substance use, mental health concerns, involvement with the child welfare system and being a runaway or homeless youth. Often traffickers identify and leverage their victims’ vulnerabilities in order to create dependency. According to 2016 ILO stats, 99% of sex trafficking victims are women and girls. The vast majority of trafficked women and girls are found in Asia and the Pacific (over 70%), while Europe has 14% and the Americans have 4%. The FBI reports suggest that children raised in foster care are more vulnerable to being trafficked. These kids lack a strong family support system to protect them and are at a higher risk of being enslaved.

According to 2017 statistics from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 out of 7 kids reported missing were likely caught in sex trafficking, of that 88% were in child welfare. While many of us may have the impression that human trafficking is driven by poverty, but that’s not correct, in fact, there are many factors at play. Some of these factors can be lack of education, social and economic injustice, government corruption, an imbalance between rich and poor, lack of human rights, debt labour, not known prevalent in our society. Human trafficking is caused by a tapestry of issues all working together. One of the reasons why addressing human trafficking is so challenging is because it is a multi-billion dollar industry.

According to a 2014 report from the International Labour Organization, human trafficking is worth $150 billion a year. The major part of profits come from sex exploitation but billions come from trafficked men and children working in manufacturing, construction, mining and other forced labour. A handful of big corporations depend on suppliers of child labour and despite many promises to address the problem, little has been done. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 8132 cases of human trafficking were reported in India in 2016 under the Indian penal code, 1860. In the same year(2016), 23,117 trafficking victims were rescued. Of these, the highest no. of people were trafficked for forced labour (45.5%), followed by prostitution (21.5%). For years India has remained the “top destination” for human trafficking in South Asia, according to the United Nations Office on Organized Crime (UNOOC). Human trafficking is dreaded and has a deep, dark and everlasting impact both on the victims and the society. The victims suffer from a lot of struggles and sufferings that brings them to a place in their lives where they have no support from family and community, no availability of proper education, a lot of obstacles in the physical environment and the most dreadful is the psychological traumas, the mental health being affected, resulting in the birth of hatred in their heart both for themselves and society. On the other hand, society also has to pay a big cost in terms of lost human capital, promoted social breakdown, undermined public heal and whatnot.

Who is trafficking people, the biggest question, the answer presumed by most of us men, but in reality, both men and women are responsible. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 30% of the countries that gave out gender information on traffickers, more women came out to be responsible. The women who are trafficked, rather than breaking and trying to escape the vicious circle, end up becoming the running hands of the trafficking cycle, manipulating the trust of other victims.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Martin Luther King Jr.

Mere reading the statistics won’t change them, the time to take some actions have arrived. Presently, there are several laws which deal with specific forms of trafficking. Trafficking in human beings or persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23(1). The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) is the premier legislation for prevention for trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. There are other specific legislations enacted relating to trafficking in women and children:

  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
  • Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act,1986
  • Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994

Ministry of Home Affairs in 2006 set up an Anti–Trafficking Cell to act as a focal point for communicating the various decisions. To improve the effectiveness in tackling the crime of human trafficking and to increase the responsiveness of the law enforcement machinery, MHA has issued comprehensive advisories to all states/ UTs. Even the presence of such strict laws, cannot bring an end to this havoc. There is no concrete protection and prevention strategy in place and the current law, The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act is not the only solution.

The trouble with the laws these days is that criminals know their rights more than their wrongs. Victims of oppression and injustice don’t need our spasms of passion but they need our legs and lungs of endurance, our long obedience in the same direction as said by Gary Hagen. We all always have 2 choices: Do nothing or Do something, choose the one you feel is apt. I am of the opinion that the ones with a voice should raise for the ones who are voiceless and help them bring the change. In the nutshell, I would say, “Once this generation goes from apathy to action, we will see Human Trafficking end in our lifetime “

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