“Life is a gift of our creator…and it should NEVER be for sale.” – Pinterest
The action or practice of illegally moving people from one area or country to another for sexual exploitation or forced labor is known as Human Trafficking. Human Trafficking is an inhumane act and is a shameful violation of human rights. Human trafficking remains a severe and prominent problem in our country, even though it is illegal under Indian law. Innumerous people are illegally trafficked across India and are victims of forced or bonded labour and commercial sexual exploitation. For many reasons, children,
women, and men are trafficked in India for multiple reasons. There are women and girls in this country who are trafficked for the purpose of forced marriages and commercial sexual exploitation within the country, particularly in areas where the gender balance is heavily biased towards men. Men and boys are generally trafficked for labour, but their traffickers or employers sexually exploit them. Many children are also subjected to forced labour as domestic and agricultural workers, factory workers, and beggars. They were also used as armed fighters by some terrorist and insurgent groups.
In India, Nepalese and Bangladeshi women and girls are also trafficked for the purpose of
commercial sexual exploitation. Because of financial issues, heavy debts, and various such reasons, several Nepalese children in India are trafficked into forced labour at circus performances. Indian women also fall prey to such situations, and they get smuggled for commercial sexual exploitation in the Middle East. There are also cases of Indian migrants who voluntarily migrate to the Middle East and Europe each year to work as domestic and low-skilled workers. They, too, can be a part of the human trafficking industry. In cases like these, workers may have been ‘recruited’ through fraudulent hiring practices that directly lead to forced labour situations, including debt bondage. In other cases, because of their heavy debts to pay recruitment fees, they are vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers in the destination countries, where some conditions are subject to involuntary servitude, including non-payment of wages, restrictions on movement, illegal withholding of passports, and physical
or sexual abuse.
In any country, child sexual exploitation is the most heinous crime. Article 51A (e) of the
Constitution of India imposes a mandatory duty on every Indian citizen stating, “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India, to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.” But in reality, the practice of this law is quite different from the spirit of the Constitution in India. Human trafficking is carried out for numerous inhumane reasons such as sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced marriage, child soldiers, bonded labour, drug trafficking/smuggling, organ harvesting, begging, and forced crime. Unfortunately, the factors that unfortunately lead to this heinous crime are poverty, child marriage, sex tourism, lack of job opportunities, falsework/marital promises, migration, religious/traditional prostitution, and internet pornography.
● Indian Anti-Trafficking Laws
● Constitution of India
Article 23 – “Under this law, the practice of human trafficking is punishable. It also protects
individuals against exploitation and prohibits trafficking humans and beggars.”
Article 24 – “This law protects children below the age of 14 years from being forcefully getting
employed in factories, mines or other hazardous environments.”
● Indian Penal Code
There are at least about 25 provisions on human trafficking, but here are the significant ones –
Section 366A: Procuration of minor girl – “Whoever, by any means whatsoever, induces any minor girl under the age of 18 years to go from any place or to do any act with the intent that such girl maybe, or knowing that it is likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
Section 366B: Importing girls from foreign countries – “Whoever imports into 1. India from any country outside India 2. or from the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Any girl under the age of twenty-one years with intent that she may be, or knowing it to be likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person, shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.”
Section 374: Unlawful compulsory labour – “Whoever unlawfully compels any person to
labour against the will of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.”
● Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
This law is the central law for prohibiting the sexual exploitation of women and girls. ITPA being such a prime law governing the commercial sexual exploitation of children, does not define the term ‘trafficking.’ This legislation covers the main elements of human trafficking, like inducing or persuading someone into prostitution along with soliciting, acquiring, and detaining a person in the premises where prostitution is practiced.
On the grounds of rescue and rehabilitation under this Act, it provides rescue on a magistrate’s instructions. In order to protect rescued women from harassment, two female police officers must be present during the search process, and a woman officer must only carry out the inquiry
There also exists a provision to place the woman or child, who has been removed under the provisions of Section 15 or 16, in a safe place and away from anyone who could influence their exposure in a harmful manner. It is good that India has numerous laws to punish human trafficking, but it is demeaning that
these laws lack a complete definition of it.
● Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
This law prohibits the employment of children of a specific age and in certain harmful or
dangerous occupations. It also imposes punishment for those who employ underage children.
● Information Technology Act, 2000
This law prohibits the transmission in electronic form of any material that is inappropriate or corrupt. ITA also deals with the issue of pornography.
Section 67A – “Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.”
Section 68B – This particular section grants penalty for those held for posting or broadcasting material depicting children engaged in sexually explicit acts via the electronic medium.
● Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
This law is a predominant legal structure for juvenile justice in India. It is relevant for children who are at risk and therefore vulnerable to be victims of trafficking. It protects vulnerable minors who are in need of emotional care and support.
● Goa Children’s Act, 2003
This State law is the only Act that defines specifically the word “Trafficking”. It includes every type of sexual exploitation that exists. Any organization or company’s owner and manager will be held responsible for ensuring the safety of minors or children in hotel facilities. There are strict laws to regulate child safety and the release of pornographic materials.
● The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018
India’s human trafficking crisis has reached its peak. According to an estimate report by the U.S. State Department, more than 65 million people are being trafficked into forced labour, both within and from outside into India. Additionally, India also revealed in 2016 that over 18 million people had been enslaved and that this country had the highest number of people trapped in modern slavery. Despite this alarming number, there were only 5,500 human trafficking cases reported in 2014, according to the Indian government. This shows the lack of efforts on the civil society groups and the government’s part to collect data on human trafficking. Finally, in the
same year, a draft is known as “Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and
Rehabilitation) Bill 2016″ was announced by India’s Minister for women and children – a
first-ever comprehensive anti-human trafficking law. The Bill is divided into 15 chapters with 59 sections. The Bill aims to prevent human trafficking and provides mechanisms for the rescue, protection, and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking.
● Drawbacks of the Bill
The Bill is incomplete, which means that it doesn’t cover all areas of human trafficking. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, had introduced under the Indian Penal code two new sections, both of which deal with human trafficking. Namely, Section 370 and 370A, where Section 370 deals with all forms of trafficking and this is evident from the explanation included. The violation against this Bill is sentenced to a minimum of seven years, which can be extended to up to ten years. The Bill doesn’t redefine the word ‘trafficking’, but only includes one category of it, namely ‘aggravated form’ of trafficking which includes forceful marriage, forced labor, begging, and motherhood. The sentence imposed gives at least 10 years imprisonment, which can be extended up to a lifetime. Surprisingly, human trafficking for sexual exploitation doesn’t fall under the definition of ‘aggravated form’ of trafficking. Sexual exploitation trafficking is one of the top
three reasons for human trafficking in India. More than 30% of people are rescued from these types of trafficking groups. It’s astonishing that all these stats, data, reports, trafficking for sexual exploitation aren’t mentioned in the Bill despite everything.
Victims trafficked during disasters have sadly also not been mentioned. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) said in its 2016 data that the police had recorded 10,357 cases of forced labour trafficking, 349 cases of forced marriage trafficking, and 71 cases of trafficking for begging. However, this calculation or segregation of cases still wasn’t addressed. As far as rehabilitation is concerned, the Bill, which is the current law in place, has adopted the method of reformation in prisons, but they have proven to be inadequate in all cases. The Bill\ also doesn’t change the current control of checks and balances on the investigating authorities
and doesn’t blame them for inadequate training or any other deficiencies.
Proof of innocence by the accused without any legitimate and demonstrable basis is against the principle of innocence until proven guilty, and this is another flaw in the proposed legislation. The government should take the initiative if looking into the core matter of human trafficking instead of just forming laws that don’t fully support such cases. Since this issue is essentially a labour exploitation issue, the government should strengthen workers’ rights through strict labour laws and better labour administration to prevent them from sliding into extreme exploitation.
Unfortunately, this perspective is missing in the Bill as workers’ groups and trade unions were not consulted in its drafting. As the international discourse on trafficking has expanded to include forced labour and labour exploitation under the broad term ‘modern slavery, countries are now requiring major employers such as government and corporations’ governments to report forced labour in their supply chains. The Indian Bill should take these countries as examples and make the necessary changes to the Bill, but it doesn’t contain any such provision. It seems that India’s legislature will only pass laws without truly understanding the needs of the victims of this atrocious crime, NGOs or those individuals who help such victims. It’s an endless cycle.