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Putting humanity to shame

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By: Priyanka Saurabh

Human trafficking involves transporting, recruiting, transferring, harboring, and obtaining persons using methods such as force, threat, or coercion. The ultimate objective of these acts and means is to use these individuals for exploitation.

The exploitation of these persons takes various extremely abusive forms such as prostitution, organ trade, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, and servitude. The largest numbers of trafficked persons are women and children who are used for various forms of unethical labor or sexual exploitation.

India is among the top countries in the world in terms of human trafficking and is considered a source, transit, and destination of human trafficking. Apart from intra-state and inter-state human trafficking, international human trafficking from Nepal and Bangladesh also occurs in India due to its long open border. West Bengal has emerged as a new center of human trafficking. Human trafficking takes place from India to West Asia, North America, and European countries. One-third of victims of human trafficking worldwide are children.

According to an estimate, about 5 lakh women, girls, and children were illegally brought to India from Bangladesh in the last decade and this number is increasing year after year. This is the reason why West Bengal has emerged as India’s largest sex market today and the statistics also testify to this. Out of every 10 girls who were released from prostitution in brothels across the country, 7 are from North and South 24 Parganas. The biggest fear among these girls is of being caught because when they are released and sent back home, their families refuse to accept them to avoid social stigma.

To avoid getting caught, the pimps of these girls keep changing their place of residence and mobile SIM cards. The Benopole border with Bangladesh is the most used route by brokers for human trafficking and Bangladeshi brokers have established strong bases in the border areas. Apart from attractive employment, salary, and facilities, Bangladeshi girls are lured to India for marriage and to work in films, where Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore are considered to be their favorite destinations.

Trafficking thrives in places where there is widespread poverty. Parents sell their children because they are left with no other option due to poverty, they often think that by selling their children they will move to places that are much better and where their lives will improve.

One of the most vulnerable sections of society that is more vulnerable to trafficking young women and this is because women are socially and culturally considered devalued and unwanted in most societies and thus they are more vulnerable to the practice of trafficking.

The desire to flee places where their lives are miserable makes individuals approach traffickers who lure them in the initial stages with promises of a better life, but once the victims come under their control, so coercive measures are applied to make them bend. Other reasons are the porous nature of borders, corrupt government officials, the involvement of transnational organized criminal groups or networks, and the limited capacity or commitment of immigration and law enforcement officials to control the borders.

Over the years the menace of trafficking has become an organized criminal syndicate equivalent to a drug syndicate. It has deeply rooted itself in society with the help of money and corrupt politicians. The lack of concrete definitions in the Indian legal framework also does not help the cause as various smugglers go scot-free based on technical loopholes in the legal systems.

Even without concrete definitions, the laws should have been sufficient, but much remains incomplete in the implementation of these laws in India. The lack of monitoring on social media platforms has opened up a new platform for smugglers to continue their trade.

Data on the problem of trafficking are insufficient, so the patterns and working mechanisms of smugglers are not as clear as they should be. Even when victims are recovered from traffickers, they are not rehabilitated so that they do not become victims of trafficking again.

The menace of human trafficking is huge and there is a need to not only stop such crimes but also ensure that the relief and rehabilitation process happens smoothly. There is a need to further improve the policies and appropriate action should be taken by various agencies and stakeholders. The right to protection from human trafficking is a constitutional right.

This right must be protected to provide a dignified life to every child, every man, and every woman in the country. Human trafficking is one of the biggest problems facing the world today.

Despite all efforts, it is not possible to stop it, and not only under-developed and developing countries but also developed nations are not untouched by this problem.

(The author is a Research Scholar in Political Science)

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