Human trafficking

Human trafficking is “the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor, or for the extraction of organs and tissues, including surrogacy and ova removal. Trafficking is a lucrative industry, representing an estimated $32 billion per year in international trade, compared to the estimated annual $650 billion for all illegal international trade.” Poverty and illiteracy makes India one of the primary targets of human traffickers.

Human trafficking is a bizarre and multifaceted crime. Because of its unique nature it, most often, escapes the radar of the law. Human trafficking may vary from illegal entry in countries to human organ trafficking which is a recent addition to this organized crime. Illegal entry in countries involves traffickers who transport a willing victim from one country to another and ensure entry avoiding the international borders. Another common form of human trafficking is the concept of bonded labour. When a victim is unable to pay a loan, they often become “bonded” against their will. Under such circumstances, the unwilling victim is coerced into slavery as a mode of repayment of the loan. Though such labor trafficking is rare nowadays, it is one of the most efficient methods of enslaving people. Forced labor is another form of human trafficking where the victim is forced through physical threats and incarceration into complete slavery. Forced labor can range from agricultural labor to begging on the streets. Mainly adult men are trafficked for unskilled work to other countries as forced laborers. A report of the International Labor Organization marks this form of forced labor as a 31 billion-dollar industry.

However, the most lucrative of all human trafficking are the trafficking of women and children. Women are essentially trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, although they might serve other purposes too. In India, women’s trafficking is most rampant in Jharkhand where women of almost all of the 24 districts are a victim of trafficking. A report, ‘India country Assessment Report on Human Trafficking 2013’ by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reveals that the districts of Garwah, Sahibganj, Chaibasa, Ranchi, Palamu, Hazaribag, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Giridih, Kodarma and Lohardaga are primary targets of the women traffickers. The trafficked women are mainly tribal like the Oraon, Munda, Santhal, endangered Pahariya tribes and Gond. Child trafficking is also prolific in these areas but the state government does not register a single missing child report since 2009.

According to the spokesperson Nirnay John Chettri of Mankind in Action for Rural Growth (MARG), “Flesh trade is on the rise due to unemployment resulting from political unrest and porous borders that the district shares with three countries (Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh)”. He further added, “In only about a year 473 girls have been reported missing from the district. There may be many families who did not even report such cases fearing the social stigma.” India is also a preferred destination for trafficked women from Bangladesh and Nepal.

Children’s trafficking in India is also equally lucrative. India serves as a preferable destination for children trafficked out of Nepal. The plight of the trafficked children is miserable. They are coerced into forced labor or made to participate forcefully in child pornography. They are also victims of organ trafficking and are often sold to paedophiles at high rates for sexual abuse.

Organ trafficking is simple where the unsuspected victim is anaesthetized and one of his kidneys or liver is ripped out leaving him to die or be disabled for the rest of his life. Liver and kidney are the two most sought after and expensive items in the organ trafficking market.

While NGOs like MARG have been spreading awareness about human trafficking in India since 2006 (from 2011 to 2012 MARG has rescued 45 girls, of which 12 were minors), the government of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has planned two-year projects to eradicate the human trafficking along with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Four states have been targeted: Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal where the project plans to increase the awareness of the Law Enforcement Officials on the issue of human trafficking. The police and the prosecutors will be better trained through a series of training programs to battle the crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. The project also plans to establish Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) and rehabilitation and care center for the rescued victims like MARG. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also announced awards in recognition of outstanding performances involving ousting of human trafficking in India.