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Human Trafficking – Prostitution And Child Abuse – An Ongoing Battle For India

The following research paper focuses on explaining the deep rooted trade of Humans over the borders and states. It focuses on explaining the increasing number of cases of human trafficking in the country, the ongoing battle with prostitution as the main cause of trafficking. It contains the various laws and policies drafted by the appropriate governments in order to eradicate human trafficking by regulation of topics like inter country adoptions. It further explains why poverty is the main reason behind growing rates of human trafficking.

Introduction
Human trafficking, an act which is seen by almost all the people of the country, from little kids to grown up adults in a mainstream Bollywood movie in which there is a male lead actor who rescues the female lead actress from getting trafficked and then there is a happy ending, but, there’s a lot more to it which is never really depicted in such movies. Human trafficking is that part of the country which has only grown over the years and has never really stopped. Imagine, people sell and buy lives; buy human.

To define in the most layman terms, human trafficking is the buying and selling of humans for money. To further give human trafficking a precise definition, the trafficking in persons protocol clearly states the elements of human trafficking. It says that there are 3 elements of trafficking.

These are as follows:
  1. The act: this element consists of the question- ‘what is done?’(transportation, harbouring, transfer)
  2. The means: this element consists of the question- ‘how it’s done?’ (use of force, coersion, fraud, deception)
  3. The purpose: this element consists of the question- ‘why it is done?’( sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery)

In a country like India, with such wide ranging and rapidly growing trafficking rates, no woman, child or adult is safe. Poverty has always been a grey area for our country as far as its development and prosperity is concer1rned. Due to such large population of the country living on the verge and mostly below the poverty line, there is large scale illiteracy rate.

This adds up to the fact that these people have to work very hard in order to find a job which is usually that of a labour. This job offers them less money and demands a lot of hard work but is the only job available to them keeping in view their lack of knowledge for better paid jobs. In the growing expensive world, the mere existence of a human is getting uneasy.

The people belonging to the middle class, who have qualification and knowledge, are unable to make the most out of their capabilities due to unavailability of jobs and the increasing rates of things necessary for subsistence, then one could only imagine in the worst nightmare what the conditions might be for the people living in poverty. Despite of so many hurdles and hardships, these people somehow manage to earn money by working hard and putting their lives at risk almost every day so that they can to feed their families.

Because of such a scenario, it is easy for them to fall in the trap of people who try to take advantage out of their disadvantage by giving them the greed of work. Mostly, such people are trafficked in the name of work and are sold to people across the states. India is a country in which only 10% of the trafficked people are traded across the borders and about 90% are trafficked interstate. After being trafficked, there is absolutely no information about them. No one knows where they went and what happened to them.

Their families live for the rest of the life waiting for them to come back which never really happens. Undoubtedly, this section of the society is the worst affected as far as1 trafficking is concerned. However, it is not necessary that the people doing such inhumane acts of trafficking lives would only attack the poor. They might even come for people belonging to the middle class slab of the economy.

There are women who newly join the modeling and acting industries. These are the industries which do not have a very good image because of the fact that trafficking takes place here as well. These women are giving the greed of getting a huge modeling contract or are promised a role in the movies and as soon as they fall into this trap, they are sold to people across the country and even outside. This is the most basic layout of the way this trade operates.

Historical background
Traffickers can be classified into two broad types, namely, the primary traffickers which consist of brothel owners, travelers. Trafficking gangs and networks, crime syndicate etc. the other category is that of secondary traffickers which consist of rather close and blood relations like that parents, relatives, friends and also local or influential leaders.

The study of historical background of trafficking is of utmost importance in order to trace the exact definition of it and the start of this never ending circle of buying and selling of human lives. Trafficking ca[1]n be traced very early in the world, back to the time of Greek city states. History says that several failed attempts were made back then by the state in order to limit certain sections of society and also certain activities like prostitution but it made a little difference it is clearly evident by the fact that prostitution has been a large part of big states since more than 2000 years. This in itself shows how deep rooted this activity is in the normal social life.

It was at the end of the 19th century that the Abolitionist movement came into being. This movement was of a great importance because it brought with it the state regulation system for prostitution. Such a system came into being because at that time there was a spread of a venereal disease which was affecting the population and they started demanding for the abolition of prostitution.

After a lot of enquires it was found out rather surprisingly to the people that the women who were a part of this activity of prostitution did not choose to be a part of it willingly but were often forced and before this was revealed, people thought that women solely opted out for prostitution with their own will. It was after rigorous legislations took place. It was found out that these women did not really belong to a particular country and transferred from one country to another. However, the word trafficking was not ever used until it was coined by UN instruments. The word ‘trafficking’ was first used to refer to the so called ‘white slave trade’ in the year of 1904. In this however, there were a lot many missing factors and at that time it was used only to define the transfer of women from one place to another for prostitution.

Even today, there are countries in which the governments are of the view that trafficking is equal to the undocumented migration particularly for the purpose of prostitution. The history related to human trafficking clearly depicts the inaccurate and late decisions of the governments as a result of which, in today’s world it will be appropriate to say that trafficking has over the years only paved its way deeper and deeper into the system.

Human trafficking and prostitution – on going battle for India
3.1 Prostitution and trafficking, according to their history, both are so closely connected that one cannot be used by the use of the name of the other. This has apparently, turned out to be true in today’s era as well. To begin with the term prostitution, it is important to know the meaning of it. According to the dictionary, prostitution means, an occupation of engaging into a sexual activity with a person for payment. A proper definition has been coined by the government of India’s prevention of immoral Traffic act 1987. Therefore, prostitution is now defined as ‘sexual abuse or exploitation of persons for commercial purposes’.

One can barely remember the time when prostitution was not present in the world. Prostitution has been one of the oldest professions for women all over the world. In India, specifically, almost every state is affected by prostitution as a result of which trafficking rates are sky high. Giving out names, the north eastern states of the country are considered to be the hub of human trafficking. Human trafficking, just like the older times, is still always linked to prostitution and it is true that more than half of the people trafficked are thrown into the racket of prostitution every year. However, it is not necessary that women are always forcefully thrown into prostitution.

Some women also opt out for it by choice. This choice is perhaps, always a result of an empty stomach. Women join the various prostitution rackets so that they can earn money and feed their families. The biggest irony is that so called male chauvinist and sexists feel the pride of being a ‘man’ when they visit such prostitutes but when asked about this occupation personally, they have absolutely different perspectives.

Men who visit women for merely satisfying their lust are proud of their masculinity but females, who have to do this job for a living are always considered to be dirty and are never seen with the eyes of respect no matter how helpless they are. This is where the double standards of the society can clearly be seen. The institution of prostitution is so old that it can be traced back in the various vedas of the Hindu mythology. There has been a mention of high class prostitution in the form of demigods acting as prostitutes like Menaka, Urvashi and Rambha.

Over the years, as trafficking has paved its way to the very roots and has become a crime which is very difficult to eradicate, the racket of prostitution has grown with it. It would not be wrong to say that trafficking is mostly associated with prostitution. In India, if statistics are taken into consideration, in the year of 2016, 129 women and girls were thrown and forced into sex work by traffickers. In order to make the world trafficking free, it is important that the matter is looked into at its core first. Trafficking involves transfer of people across domestic borders. This however, is not possible until and unless some influential person is involved and such a person must be having that much of a say that he can stop the police men present at every border to not check a particular vehicle carrying trafficked humans.

If this was not the case, then it would have been very difficult to transfer people across domestic and international borders without getting noticed by the people in uniform. It is loss to humanity, seeing how cold people can get when it comes to making money. People these days are ready to throw their morals, values and esteem far off just to earn some extra money. These influential people who help the traffickers in transferring trafficked humans always demand for their cut in the job. This is how shamelessly they make their passive income.

Human trafficking and child abuse - stealing childhood
Child abuse, which includes child labour, slavery, begging and what not, is one of the most inhumane crime that can be done by the human race. Latest television shows like Savdhan India and crime petrol show abundant cases which involve child trafficking. Just like prostitution, child trafficking and its growing rate is also a result of poverty and lack of resources. Young children are often seeing working as waiters in road side ‘dhabas’ and small restaurants.

This is a type of child labour which is most frequently seen by the so called educated people and even after knowing the fact that keeping children below the age of 14 years for work is legally considered to be a crime they do not consider getting the restaurants owner arrested. Many such children working in these conditions are trafficked and sold out to these ‘dhaba’ owners. There are many children who are also sold to people in different states.

Such people make the child work in their houses day and night which often leads to their illness and eventually, death. Some children are also thrown into another huge racket and crime of forced labour. Forced labour means extracting work out of a human being forcefully. Forced labour is most prominent in the village areas in which parents force their children to work for a moneylender or any other influential person whom they could not pay the money they had once bought. This in itself is a huge crime and accounts to bonded labour. Under the Indian labour law, there is a whole section stating that no employer shall extract work out of a person in lieu of a debt that was once taken by that person. Children, who get trafficked at a very young age are most likely to lose their childhood and are not able to enjoy the most carefree period in a person’s life.

In 90% of such cases, the child never reaches back home and is always lost in the world working to earn a meal. Some of these children are also employed by some ruthless factory owners who make them do the heavy works of lifting bricks, cement etc. many children end up losing their lives because of a life taking accident at side. No child actually refuses to such offers of work, no matter how difficult they might be because all they care about is, the money that they are going to be given at the end of the day.

Prostitution and child trafficking is somehow interlinked. How? – prostitutes are involved sexually with various men as a result of which they might end up getting pregnant and if these prostitutes give birth to male child, these children are often sold to other people for money and are extracted work from. Many children often end up becoming pimps for the various prostitutes including their mother and get customers for them.

According to the National Human’s Right commission, every year, 40,000 children are abducted and are thrown into various trades. Completely sidelining the legal perspective, according to humanity, people getting involved in trading people are totally heartless and inhumane and will only get to know the pain of the old parents who never get to see their sons and daughters ever again if their own children get abducted. This is something they can never even think about in their worst nightmare. Here, one old saying fits right at the spot, ‘only the wearer knows, where the shoe pinches’.

Children who get trafficked are sent in for multiple jobs across the country. The most famous of which, is the rat hole mining. Rat hole mining is the digging of tunnels which are approximately 3-4 feet deep and workers, mostly children extract coal from them. The reason so as to why they are chosen for rat hole mining is that they are smaller in size as compared to an adult and can easily get inside the funnels in the ground.

This however, is very dangerous and there have been tremendous cases of the death of hundreds of children over the years. This occupation is clearly deadly for children and is not suited for them. These funnels are so small that it is easy for the child to get in but later, as they dig further and go deeper, the oxygen levels drop and they can hardly breathe. There are numerous numbers of medical issues which can take place. The children, who die, basically die because of breathlessness and the lack of oxygen.[2]

Human trafficking – the legal perspective
Article 23 of the Indian Constitution prohibits trafficking of human beings. Article 23 clause 1 and 2 states:
  1. Traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
  2. Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from imposing compulsory service for public purposes, and in imposing such service the State shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste or class or any of them.

Various amendments:
  1. The immoral traffic prevention act, 1956: this is considered to be the first ever legislation in order to prevent sexual exploitation. The reason so as to why it focused on only sexual exploitation was because at that time, trafficking as discussed earlier in this research paper mainly took place for the purpose of making money by throwing or selling lives of women and girls into the rackets of prostitution. It was apparently a very boiling topic at that point of time which required quick legislation. As a result, the ITPA, 1956 came into being.
     
  2. Protection of children from sexual offences (POSCO) Act, 2012:
    this act comes into effect on the 14th November 2012, on children’s day. This was morally a gift to all those children belonging to the various economically backward classes that are relatively more prone to trafficking for various purposes. This is the act which precisely defined every type of sexual abuse and it was after this act came into being that law was introduced to new aspects of abuse I.e. penetrative and non penetrative sexual assault. This act was basically a special law to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.
     
  3. In the year, 2013, under the criminal law (amendment) act, section 370 and 370 (A) was introduced. This amendment clearly criminalized the harboring, transfer, transport, recruiting a person or persons for the purpose of prostitution, organ removal or forced labour. Such offence, if committed by any person would result in an enhanced punishment of 7-10 years of imprisonment.
     
  4. Women and children prohibition of child marriage act, 2006:
    there might be many questions arising out of this act, like, how is child marriage and trafficking interlinked. As an answer, there is a clear and straight link between the two. Even today, there are many classes in the Indian society that practice child marriage. They consider it to be a part of their culture which has to be followed by every generation. A girl, if born in such families, is not anything more than an obligation. Such communities don’t even for the girl to become an adult and get them married to relatively older men. the Indian Judicial and legal system has over the years seen numerous cases in which, these relatively older men after marriage sell these small girls for money to various prostitution or other rackets and their parents have absolutely no say in this because once married, the girl is no more a part of their family. Anyhow, why would such parents even care? If they would have ever cared about their daughter, they wouldn’t have ever gotten her married at such a small age.
     
  5. Many more regulations and acts were legislated over the years like the child labour (prohibition and regulation) Act, 1986, bonded labour system (abolition) act, 1976 etc.
     
  6. Apart from this, sections in IPC, like, section 372 and 373 were also added which mainly deal with the topic of selling and buying girls for the purpose of prostitution. Even today, it would be appropriate to say that, prostitution and trafficking go hand in hand. Once our country gets a hold on trafficking and abolish it completely, prostitution rackets would automatically decrease in number and eventually vanish away leaving no room for exploitation of minor girls.
     
  7. Not only at the centre, but at the state level as well, legislations have been enacted in order to deal with this issue. One of them is the Punjab prevention of human smuggling Act, 2012.
This act came in the same year in which the POSCO act was introduced. Punjab is amongst the leading states in India as far as drugs are concerned. There are huge numbers of rackets within the state as well as abroad and other states that require workforce and as a result of which, human smuggling rates had also rose in the state and needed to be regulated.
Not only the various legislations but also many administrative measures and interventions were also taken up by the government.

The anti trafficking cell was set up in the ministry of home affairs. This cell mainly works as a decision making tool. Whenever a decision in relation to human trafficking is to be made, this cell is of the utmost importance. Also, this cell also works as a system of checks and balance and keeps a close eye on the follow up of the laws and decision made in relation to trafficking by the various state governments.[3]

Human traffickers- politicians
Trafficker is a person or a group of people or an organization of people who enable the process of trafficking by working in various different fields and finding out the vulnerable people of the society who can easily fall into their trap. However, it is not always necessary that greed leads to trafficking. Over the years, there have been many cases in which young women and girls get kidnapped from the busy roads of metropolitan cities with the drop of a hat. What happens to such girls?

There are many cases in which only money is asked in return of a life but there are many other cases in which these women and girls are sold to others. This is what trafficking means. As far as the gender of the trafficker is concerned, both men and women are involved in this trade. However, these men and women are bifurcated based on what facts of the case are. There might be cases in which it is a clear possibility that a woman might easily be able to convince the victim and vice- versa.

As far as the nationality of the traffickers is concerned, In India, mostly the traffickers are that of the country and are fellow Indians. However, the small fraction of traffickers also include foreigners but these foreigners only play their roles in trafficking people across the border and not within the country. Now, clearly there are larger numbers of trafficking cases inside the country that overseas. Therefore, these traffickers are Indian, in context of India. Similarly, in other countries, in which, domestic trafficking rate is higher than overseas trafficking then the traffickers are more likely to have the nationality of that country.

It is further noted that these traffickers are not usually the boss of their trade. They work for other influential and wealthy people who sit behind the board of a good image in from of the world but in reality, do such dark businesses. Traffickers are usually salaried workers for such wealthy bosses who end making profit from the money made by selling humans.

India, a democratic county, has a huge number of political parties all over the country. Indian politics is precisely thought to a system of checks and balances. The opposition keeps a close eye on the ruling party and the various decisions and legislations made or presented by them. However, there is a very dark side to this politics which clearly tells that people cannot be judged by their societal position.

They might be into some really dirty work. Over the years, many politicians from various parties have managed to reach the front page of many newspapers like “the Hindu”, but, for all the wrong reasons. One such case is that of BJP leader, Juhi Chowdhary she was alleged to have ties child trafficking rackets and did play a role in helping them. There were several interrogations with various people working in child care shelter homes. Before even being proven guilty, the other politicians from within the party wanted to make a deal and somehow bury the case. There were a number of efforts made to make her the General Secretary and get her out of this case as the name of the party was also being affected.

In this case a number of people including Susmita Ghosh, DCPO, Jalpaiguri were arrested. The reason behind her arrest was that she did not have any appropriate answer for not answering the show cause notice issued by the court and there was always a suspicion on her by the police. Juhi was also later arrested by the police. In a country like India, in which corruption is in the very roots, it is very difficult for one official to fight against a system of corrupted people. It is very difficult to first of all arrest influential people and once arrested it is difficult to get them proven guilty of something.[4]

Cultural dimensions of human trafficking - A personal perspective
In India, more than 276 million people live in extreme conditions of poverty. The conditions are so severe that there is hardly any food to eat the whole day. Somehow, by doing heavy duty jobs at construction sites, the people are able to buy themselves one meal a day. Even if we see around us while walking on a road, we can clearly see a number of people who are begging in order to earn bread. Many people are seen working on road side stalls and ‘dhabas’, many people are seen constructing houses in posh localities in which only the rich live. All these people have the same struggle, the struggle of earning bread. it is because of such severe conditions that most of the illegal works are carried out in this slab of the society. Trafficking is one of them. Poverty is such an instrument which is used by some selfish people to get their work done.

Poor people are always in hope for a job which pays them better than what they are already earning. For this purpose, they easily fall for the trap of wrong people who get them trafficked. However, there are also many cases in which these people know about this fact that they might get sold and still chose to opt it. There are many people in the country belonging to certain community and also living under poverty who choose to opt getting sold in order to earn money.

There are people who are willing to sell their daughters for the purpose of prostitution. Over the years, this has become a family occupation. People have started selling their daughter to traffickers for money. These people are of the view that even if they sell their daughter, she would be able to earn money and send it home so that their hardships can minimize one can only imagine the level of hardships that people consider selling their loved ones the only way out. For some this works while for others it doesn’t.

Trafficking hub – the seven sisters (the northeastern part of India)
Northeaster part of India, which consists of the seven sisters famously known for agricultural richness like tea plantation etc and of course for it delicious cuisines has a dark side to it as well. The northeastern sisters are known for one more thing which is rather dark and not something to be proud of, i.e. trafficking. Assam out of the seven sisters is known to be the hub of human trafficking. There are hundreds and thousands of cases of trafficking every year.

It is rather ironical that in the whole of India, trafficking usually takes place domestically but in the north eastern part of the country, there are more cases of trafficking over borders. People are trafficked and are usually sold out to the neighboring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh etc for various purposes like prostitution, slavery, forced labour and child labour. One of the biggest constraints and a matter of huge concern is the inefficient media houses in the seven states. There is no appropriate strong media network because of which many trafficking cases are not even known about. This inefficiency is often taken advantage of by the various traffickers because they would go unnoticed and the only people it has to fear is the police.

The United Nations has however brought in a series of measure which can be taken into account in order to maintain, if not eradicate, human trafficking in one go. Some of these measures are building up of new Ngo’s and other also maintaining a cordial relationship between the already present media houses and also the new media houses yet to be formed so that both of them can work hand in hand. There is yes another measure which can be considered to be that of a huge importance, which is the setting up of new anti- trafficking agencies in these states. This would help in many ways; these agencies would have only one matter of concern and will obviously have to devote all their time in only one activity which is trafficking.

This would bring a lot of attention towards this problem and as time would pass by, this system would become so well established and big that they would easily be able to track all the trafficking activities in a less amount of time and this might even in the long run prove out to be the best choice by eradicating human trafficking entirely from the seven states and also the whole country later on.

Among all the seven sisters, Assam is a state which is considered to be the hub of human trafficking. Over the years, the anti- human trafficking units have been set up all over the state which is in today’s date combating against rates of human trafficking in the state. A total of 35 anti trafficking units have been set up out of which 10 anti trafficking units are funded by the ministry of home affairs. It is not necessary that only these units work in order to combat trafficking, the labour department, various nongovernmental organizations, health department etc work together in order to combat human trafficking.

The superintendent of police has been instructed to keep a close check on the progress and the working of anti trafficking units which have been set up in the state. This would help in the smooth functioning of the whole system and every included organization will be answerable to each other and there will be a constant check on one another. The various organizations including the police work together to find areas which are vulnerable to human trafficking or places from where maximum cases of trafficking have been filled. In this way there is a close watch on the activities of all such areas. [5]

Analysis of land mark judgment – Laxmi Kant Pandey v. Union of India, 1984 AIR 469
This case is one of the various landmark judgments made in context of human trafficking. The ruling date of the case was 6 February, 1984 in the apex court. In this case, the petitioner, Laxmi kant Pandey wrote to the supreme court alleging that there have been malpractices and neglect on the part of adoption agencies and other organizations as far as adoption of Indian children by foreign parents is concerned. He quoted that these children face a lot of hardships during their hazardous journeys to the foreign country. In the near history, there have been many cases of sexual exploitation of the children.

The court declared this letter written to them as a writ petition and this instituted the basis of public interest litigation. The court in its judgment was of the view that there is a severe absence of laws and policies as far as the inter country adoptions are considered. Such absence could nearly double the problems and hardships for the children being adopted by foreigner parents. The most important and basic problem would be that it would openly set up the children to abuses like trafficking. The court therefore formulated certain new standards and policies so as to at least keep a check on the various inter country activities as far as adoption is considered. These policies and laws which are relevant including article 15(3), 24 and 39 of the Indian constitution.

The judgment kept a strong point turning it into a law stating that if any foreigner wants to adopt a child or children from India, it is important for that person to be sponsored by a relevant and licensed agency of his/her own country. It was further added that as far as the inter country adoptions are considered, no Indian agency would directly take part in the matter. Only the agencies which are licensed by the government of India and are working under it would be allowed to look into the matter and that doesn’t mean that that agency would have the authority to decide whether such adoption will take place or not. This decision would solely depend on the local courts. This judgment is indeed a landmark as far as the rising numbers of inter country trafficking is considered. The new policies and laws introduced would surely work as a watchdog for the traffickers.
[6]

Conclusion

As the various newspapers, writing and statistics are taken into account, it would not be wrong to say that trafficking is one the most severely deep rooted problems for the country. It would be wrong to say that the appropriate governments haven’t looked into the matter and drawn out new laws and policies. Despite of the establishment of such laws and policies, human trafficking rates have only been increasing in the country with each passing year. If the statistics are brought into consideration, the biggest reason for such an increase in the number of cases is ‘poverty’. India is a country in which more than half of the entire population lives under poverty which makes them vulnerable to falling into such traps. If poverty is eradicated from the country then automatically human trafficking rate would fall drastically. The country still has a long way to go.

End-Notes:
  1. Shodhganga
  2. www.ugc.ac.in
  3. mea.gov.in
  4. The Hindu
  5. unodc.org , police.assam.gov.in/human-trafficking
  6. escr-net.org

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