Law and Justice

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: MODERN-DAY SLAVERY

Life is a beautiful gift from God, further enhanced by the people we live with: our loved ones, parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, and our friends. We wake up as per our own schedule, live each day as it comes, and exercise our freedom and rights throughout. This kind of life might seem to be familiar to you but not to the unfortunate victims of human trafficking.

The Problem and Its Ground Report

Human trafficking is the trade of human beings for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation encompassing a lot of other barbaric dimensions such as child abuse, child labor, forced marriage, etc. It is one either against the person’s will and consent or by using deception or coercion, abusing positions of power or vulnerability of the victim.

Human trafficking is a global problem affecting people of all ages. A survey estimated that approximately 1,000,000 people are trafficked each year globally. Between 20,000 and 50,000 are trafficked into the United States, which is one of the largest destinations for sex-trafficking trade’s victims. The figures released by the India's National Crime Records Bureau showed that around 3000 human trafficking cases were reported in 2017, a drop of around 60% from just over 8,000 recorded in 2016.

According to UNICEF, 12.6 million children are engaged in hazardous occupations.

In 2009, it was estimated that 1.2 million children were trafficked worldwide for sexual exploitation, including for prostitution or the production of sexually abusive images. Only 10% of human trafficking in India is international, rest 90% is interstate. According to a report by the National Human Rights Commission of India, 40,000 children are abducted each year, leaving 11,000 untraced. NGOs estimate that around 12,000 to 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the country annually from neighbouring nations as a part of the sex trade. There are around 300,000 child beggars in India. Every year, 44,000 children fall into the clutches of gangs. In 2015, only 4,203 human trafficking cases were investigated in India. In 2014, 76% of all people trafficked in India were women and girls. Children make up roughly 40% of prostitutes. It is estimated that over 2 million women and children are trafficked for sex into the red-light districts in India. The Indian Government estimates that girls make up the majority of children in sex trafficking. According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reports from 2009, AROUND 1.2 million children are involved in prostitution in India.

Causes of Human Trafficking

Some specific domains of human trafficking include trafficking of children, sex trafficking, forced marriage, labor trafficking, and trafficking for urban trade. A complex set of structural factors causing human trafficking include poverty, unemployment, discriminatory social norms, institutional challenges and rapid globalization, poverties and lack of educational opportunities in someone’s home town.

Gender inequalities push women to informal sections like sexual exploitation.

Traffickers also harvest organs. They take advantage of the situation of the long waiting list for organs in developed countries and sell them off for large profits, often without properly caring for the victims. This is a big nexus of medical gains and it is spread worldwide. Children, women, and slum people are kidnapped and then, their organs are used for organ trafficking.

With rapid globalization and the advent of internet technologies, various websites have been created to facilitate sex trafficking and sex work in general. Human traffickers also incorporate abuse of the legal system and the corruption within it to control their tactics by making the threats of deportation.

Difficult political situations that have occurred in history, such as civil wars and social conflicts, are the push factors for migration and trafficking. Incidents of trafficking in women and children are often seen where they are promised work in domestic service and industries. Instead, they are sometimes taken into brothels where they are required to undertake sex work; their passports and other identification paper are also confiscated. Labour trafficking mostly involves bonded labors, involuntarily servitude, domestic servitudes and child labor. It happens more often in the domain of domestic war, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and entertainment. Migrant workers are more at risk of becoming the victims.

Thus, we can state that the vulnerable group of people are mostly poverty stricken refugees, migrants, LGBT community member, religious minorities, and people with some disabilities. The transgender people are not accepted socially; by their families and friends. They are not given education and jobs. Thus, because of being vulnerable and poor, they are commonly used for sex work, organ harvesting, begging, etc. The shelter home kids, due to the lack of awareness and job opportunities, are mostly used for human trafficking too.

The human trafficking network gives rise to huge revenues to the ruthless people and organizations associated with it. A large number of people are trafficked mostly from Asia and Africa, and deported to some other countries as per the requirements. There are some countries wherein people don’t even consider human trafficking as a criminal offense.

Effects of Human Trafficking

Traffickers use physical, emotional, psychological abuse to control and exploit their victims that leaves debilitating effects on the victims. The latter face threats or violence from many sources; including customers, brothel owners, traffickers, corrupt local law enforcement officials, and even family members who don’t want to keep any link with them. The challenges faced by the victims often continue even after their removal from the situations of coercive exploitation; they are unable to cope with their past traumatic experiences. Such people often experience social alienation in the host and home countries along with stigmatization, social exclusion, and intolerance that often make it difficult for them to integrate into their post community or integrate into their former community. As far as psychological coercion is concerned, perpetrators expose the victim’s current amount of psychological stress induced by threats, fear, physical and emotional violence. The tactics of coercion repeatedly used in the phases of trafficking include recruitment initiation and indoctrination. Herein, the victims are manipulated so that an environment created by the victims may become completely dependent upon the authorities of traffickers. Traffickers also take advantage of family dysfunctions, homelessness, and past history of child abuse to psychologically manipulate, women and children in particular. The ultimate goal of traffickers is to turn a human being into slave.

The long-term impact of human trafficking on victims may include complex trauma as a result of repeated cases of inflicted relationships trauma over long periods of time including but not limited to sexual abuse, domestic violence, forced prostitution, and gang rape. Complex trauma also involves multifactorial conditions of depression, anxiety, self-regret, substance abuse, self-destructive behavior, medical and somatic problems, despair, and victimization. At times, victims may develop STDs including HIV/AIDS. The perpetrators repeatedly use substance abuse as a means to control their victims, which leads to compromised health, self-destructing behavior, and long-term physical harm. The victims are also forced to live in very unhygienic conditions, which expose them to a lot of communicable diseases. Furthermore, the victims have also reported treatment similar to torture, their bodies being broken and beaten into submission. Children are especially vulnerable due to the developmental and psychological changes occurring at their tender age. Children who grow up in the bad environment of exploitation, frequently exhibit anti-socialism, over sexualization, self-harm, aggression, anxiety, dissociative disorders, substance abuse, complex trauma, and attention deficit disorders.

Thus, human trafficking can be seen as an organized crime executed into action by several perpetrators at the source, transits, and destination points of trafficking. Human trafficking is a national threat to every country as it locks national growth and development.

How To Stop It All?

To stop human trafficking, a multidisciplinary approach should be taken. Certain functions need to be performed at the individual levels, some at the community level, and the some others at the official level by the state and government.

Parents should be more vigilant on their children. The latter should also be taught basic principles of spotting the perpetrators of trafficking. School authorities should take care of children, especially during transit.

People under the BPL category or people under the shadow of illiteracy should be taught about their basic human rights and supported economically. Awareness programs should be held at regions where incidents of human trafficking are very high. Anti-trafficking organizations should be established at commercial levels, involving people from the same community. The local and legal authorities should be very vocal about all these incidents. Media too can play an enormous role in shaping perceptions and guiding the public about human trafficking.

Certain business sectors and finance industries are highly vulnerable to trafficking. We have the systems in place to continue to build the required knowledge base and share it effectively with these sectors. By creating new alliances with business groups and the world of finance, we can help them eradicate the traffickers’ access to supply chains. This new thinking pattern needs to take root and grow.

Apart from protecting and preventing the victims, prosecution of traffickers is also very important. Trafficking in human beings or persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23(1): The immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA). It is the premier legislation for the prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. It entails strict punishment for any person keeping a brothel or allowing the use of his or her property for this. It also includes punishment for the ones earning from the prostitution business. Any person who detains  any other person, whether with or without his consent,

(a) in any brothel, or

(b) in or upon any premises with intent that such person may have sexual intercourse with a person who is not the spouse of such person,

shall be punishable on conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may be for life or for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine. Provided that the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years.

This also strengthens the voice of all those who are forced into prostitution. Any person, in a public place or anywhere else, if tries to seduce other person by gestures, words, or molests, loiters, etc.; shall be punishable on first conviction with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both, and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, and also with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

We, as a responsible lot, should take the responsibility to provide aid to the vulnerable people. This will make them feel less helpless, vulnerable, and socially dejected. Also, this might create a communication path for them to share their problems. Poverty and hunger need to be eradicated to make the people more aware and society strong.