Human trafficking is a social evil that prevails in our own society even when Section 21 of Indian Constitution assures everyone Right to life and liberty. It basically refers to the trafficking of men and women mostly for sexual exploitation or sometimes for bonded labour. Females are the most vulnerable to human trafficking. In 2018, Thomsan Reuters Foundation Survey of 548 experts on women’s issues, ranked India as the most unsafe country for women. Afghanistan and Syria ranked second and third respectively. The Ministry of Women and Child Development said in a statement that ‘using an opinion poll to peg India as the most dangerous country for women is clearly an effort to malign the nation and draw attention away from real improvement seen in recent years’.
All such debates and cross comments cannot deny or hide the reality of West Bengal and Mumbai which are the states with highest cases of human trafficking. According to the latest study by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) Mumbai and Kolkata observed the highest incidences of women and children being trafficked.
Main causes why innocent people being trafficked are poverty, for sexual exploitation, bonded labour and improper sex ration leading to more number of male on female. Young girls get abducted and are forced to marry older men.
Adding to this COVID 19 has taken many livelihoods forcing people to adopt various illegal and unethical methods to survive. Increase in poverty and resultant economic inequality is a proven pre condition for trafficking.
Admist such circumstances, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched a research brief on 14th May 2020 which stated that COVID-19 measures may likely to lead to an increase in cross border trafficking and human smuggling.
The western state of Maharashtra, Mumbai has been a major destination of sex trafficking victims who lured with promise of jobs but sold into sex slavery or domestic servitude. This has given rise to enormous increase to crime against women like rape.
According to National Humans Rights Commission of India, 40,000 children are abducted each year, leaving 11,000 untraced. NGOs estimate that between 12,000 and 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the country annually from neighbouring nations as a part of the sex trade.
The Government of India penalises trafficking through various relevant laws. In the Constitution, Article 23 se that the prohibition of traffic in human being and forced labour. Sections in IPC such as 366A, 366B and 374 and others penalises traffickers with imprisonment upto 10 years and a fine. The Juvenile Act, Information Technology (IT) Act, Immoral Traffic Act, Prevention of Child Labour, are among others which try to penalise trafficking. 30th July is observed as World Against Human Trafficking.
Even after having various laws against trafficking, none has effectively worked and protected innocent people from this evil. Inadequate approaches and involvement of higher authorities have worsened the problem more.
NGOs like Prajwala, Gudia, International Justice Mission are working for the rehabilitation of such people and fight for the rehabilitation of such people and fight for their justice. However, uniformed, untraced people are still struggling to find a silver lining to raise their voice against oppression and discrimination.