What is Human Trafficking? 

Human trafficking can be described as forcing of a person into any kind of exploitation sexual or labor or both, which is human rights violation and the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

It is important to note that the trafficking of persons is not limited to cases in which victims are transported across borders. Internal trafficking occurs domestically in every nation. It preys on vulnerability of all kinds, exacerbates that vulnerability, and then exploits it for revenue.

International law has recently identified the gravity of this modern day slavery and initiated a movement against the phenomenon.One of the backbones of this movement is the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (2000) under UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.


Article 3 defines the components of trafficking as such: 
(a) 'trafficking in persons' shall mean "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of a threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of giving or receiving payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs."


The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in sub-paragraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in sub-paragraph (a) have been used.


(b) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered "trafficking in persons" even if this does not involve any of means set forth in sub-paragraph (a) of this article.


(c) "Child" shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.


In its broadest sense, trafficking not only includes sexual exploitation but also includes other forms of exploitation such as domestic servitude, unsafe agricultural labour, sweatshop labour, construction or restaurant work. It is the third largest organized transnational crimes with a nexus of criminal syndicates. 

It is the most abominable violation of human rights, which has existed in a variety of forms, for thousands of years. Perhaps not many crimes are as ghastly as trading in human misery.


Modes of Trafficking:

False job promises
Fraudulent marriages
Sale of children
Purposes of Trafficking:
Sex trade
Entertainment industry
Domestic work
Carpet & garment industries
Brick kilns
Forced and/or cheap labor
Illegal adoption industry
Organ transplants
Forced marriages
Child marriages
Mail-order brides
Drug trafficking/peddling
The Extent of Trafficking


The extent of Trafficking

There are an estimate two million children, ages between 5 and 15, forced into CSE around the world
Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years are most vulnerable 15 % of commercial sexual workers in India are believed to be below 15 years old and 25 % are estimated to be between the ages of 15 and 18.
500,000 children worldwide are forced into this exploitation every year.[1]


Over the last decade many studies were carried out in an effort to collect reliable statistics on trafficking and CSE. In a survey conducted in 1992 by the Central Social Welfare Board India, on metro-based prostitution, forty percent of the sex workers stated that they had entered the sex trade when they were under the age of 18 [2]. Another study estimated that 300,000 – 400,000 children in India are victims of CSE.[3] Research on child prostitution in India, conducted prior to 2001, estimated that 24 lakh women in prostitution lived in the red light areas with 52 lakh children. This study further pointed out that 45 percent of the girls belong to the category of neglected juveniles at the time of their entry into the profession.[4] 


Research on cross border trafficking has indicated that 5,000 – 7,000 young Nepali girls were trafficked into India annually. This research also highlighted the fact that in the last decade, the average age of the trafficked girl has steadily fallen from 14 to 16 years to 10 to 14 years.[5] These findings are supported by studied conduced by Human Rights Watch – Asia in 1995, which stared the above as well.


The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a major global industry and the researchers suggest that it generates up to US $ 5 billion worldwide. The income earned by this industry through trafficking, sex tourism and pornography is second only to that generated by the smuggling of drugs and arms.[6] Sources have suggested that in India it accounts for Rs 11, 000 crore of the Rs 40, 000 crore commercial sex industry.[7]


The above information has been taken from the UNICEF report of 2005 called ‘Rescue and Rehabilitation of child victims trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation’–Jointly published by Department of Women and Child Development Ministry of Human Resource Development Government of India.



[1] Statistics Provided by CRY, March 1999

[2] Fernandes, G. and Ray S.C. , 2001 ‘Raids, Rescue and Rehabilitation. The story of the Mumbai Brothel Raids of 1996-2000’. Research unit college of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai.

[3] ECPAT – 1995

[4] Desai, M. , (December 2001) ‘ Child Protection – Current Status and Recommendation of Strategies for the Indian Country Programme for 2003-2007’. A consultancy Report, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, For UNICEF India Country Office, New Delhi

[5] Ghosh, S.K. 1996 ‘ The World of Prostitutes’. A.P.H. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi

[6] ECPAT, 1995.

[7] National Herald, New Delhi, 17 January 1999



Why Does Trafficking Exist? 


Why does Trafficking exist? 
A variety of phenomena lend themselves to the patterns of trafficking, and a variety of vulnerabilities make it possible for the innocent to become victims. Human trafficking exists both within domestic borders and across transnational borders. While all forms of trafficking are exploitative, all exploitation of children is not a result of trafficking. For instance, trafficking may occur for various types of exploitations such as sexual exploitation, debt bondage or other forms of bonded labour, forced labour, servitude, camel jockeying, begging, drug peddling, illegal adoption, for marriages, etc. At the same time, not all cases of exploitation are cases of trafficking. For example, although children are trafficked for labour, not all cases of child labour are cases of child trafficking.


Trafficking is another name of deception and often the trafficked become agents of their own trafficking. This happens with the hands of family members, promise of marriage or false marriage, poor conditions of family, sale at the hands of close friends or relatives, etc. In March 1994, Human Rights Watch Asia interviewed seven trafficked victims of whom six were trafficked into India fromNepal with the help of close family friends or relatives.


Though poverty-stricken communities are more likely to face crime, unemployment, and other vices that create a trafficking-prone environment, poverty alone does not explain the occurrence of trafficking. Poverty can heighten one’s vulnerability to becoming a victim, but even if poverty is eradicated, trafficking will remain a problem as long as the industry is one of low-risk and high profits for the traffickers themselves. This is especially problematic because the traffickers face rapidly increasing demand; both the commercial sex industry and the industry for cheap, dispensable labour are growing around the world. 

Therefore, governmental and non-governmental initiatives against trafficking should, in addition to implementing poverty alleviation measures, focus on enforcing strict prosecution of the perpetrators of human trafficking.


Why Trafficking exists in India 
As one of the most rapidly developing nations in the world, there are a variety of factors that make India a country that is particularly prone to human trafficking

High demand for cheap labour: 
India's s role in the global economy has a comparative advantage in the availability of cheap labour, which drives down wages and increases the demand for child labour, the exploitation of workers in debt-bondage situations, and various forms of forced labour. The low wages in standard employment situations make the promises of higher paying jobs especially attractive, so traffickers, especially those in the commercial sex industry, take advantage of this and use the lure of more lucrative opportunities to trick women into the profession.


Corruption and implementation failure: 
The perpetration of traffickers is an enormous challenge in a country with substantial amounts of corruption in both its government and law enforcement system. Furthermore, the decentralized nature of enforcement makes anti-trafficking policies even harder to implement.


Lingering bias and victim blaming: 
India is evolving into a nation that is more aware of gender equality than it once was. Spreading awareness about issues of human trafficking then, especially in regards to forced prostitution and the commercial sex industry, can be a challenging process. While cultural sanctions and practices such as the Devdasi system are being phased out, widespread discrimination persists. To avoid victim blaming and stigmatization, as well as false assumptions that all prostitutes willingly market their own bodies and sexuality for income, a society must be sensitized to the vulnerability of women in trafficked situations. 


It must also realize that the commercial sex industry could not sustain itself without the millions of men buying sex to create the industry’s demand.


Potential Traffickers:

Organized gangs and crime groups
Established trafficking network agents
Narcotic and drug peddlers
Arm/weapon smugglers
Local recruiters
Transporters, taxi drivers
Corrupt officials (e.g. police, customs, immigration, border patrollers)
Village headmen and members
National & foreign tourists
Travel agents
Employment agents
Brothel/bar madams
Gharwalis/brothel owners & pimps
Entertainment promoters
Clients of red light districts
Own friends & relatives
Potential Victims:
Raped and sexually abused
Illegally confined
Underpaid workers
Drug users
Child brides
Socially excluded
Widowed, divorced, or unmarried women
Victims of gender, ethnic, religious, or caste discrimination
Victim of natural disaster or other crisis situation
Victims of emotional & physical torture
Own friends & relatives


Risks for all victims of Trafficking:

Low, withheld, or no wages
Hazardous work environment
Violent physical abuse
Drug abuse and other addictions
Lack of medical attention
Psychological trauma
Emotional trauma
Economic integration difficulty
Community ostracism


Risks for Victims of Sex Trafficking:

Unwanted pregnancy
Unsafe abortions
Higher maternal mortality risk
Cervical cancer
HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Severe physical injury from sexual and/or physical violence
Trafficking and HIV/AIDs


Many of the factors that make one vulnerable to sex trafficking such as poverty, migration, gender inequality, discrimination against sexual minorities are the same that make one vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. However, the phenomena of sex trafficking and HIV/AIDS directly contribute to each others growth. There is no doubt that trafficked persons, especially those forced to work withinIndia’s vast sex industry, are especially susceptible to contraction of HIV/AIDS. Trafficked women are more at risk of contracting HIV than other women in the sex industry because they are far less able to negotiate condom use, forced to endure more partners, and subjected to sex of a more violent nature.

There is also a dangerous myth that HIV/AIDS and STDs can be cured by having sex with virgin girls. This has led to the rape and trafficking of girls (so many young that their genital tract is not fully mature) as well as high rates of sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS in a markedly young female population.


The international response to HIV-AIDS has been characterized by two diametrically opposed public health approaches_ the isolationist approach and the integrationist approach. The isolationist response proposes three basic strategies for HIV-AIDS prevention: compulsory and universal HIV screening. The disclosure of the HIV status of those testing positive and their isolation from larger society through discriminatory practices. The integrationist strategy on the other hand, proposes voluntary testing following informed consent, the non- disclosure of a person’s HIV-positive status and the equitable treatment in healthcare, employment and all other facets of life.


Integrationist policies were based on the fundamental human rights of individuals to self-autonomy, privacy and equality. The basis of this philosophy was that, in the long-term voluntary testing, confidentiality and non-discrimination would encourage people to come out an access health services. The integrationist approach, therefore, sought to battle and reduce stigma whereas the isolationist approach sought to increase it, thus pushing the epidemic further under ground.


According to a World Bank Report ("AIDS in South Asia: Understanding and Responding to a Heterogeneous Epidemic (August 2006)" - opens in a new window) the industry’s hyper-mobile nature creates the potential for rapid rates of spreading the infection. Moreover, South Asia's most severe epidemic is in parts of India, particularly in a cluster of Southern and Western States, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Maharashtra where sex work is the critical driver of HIV transmission.

A Central Social Welfare Board estimates that these states, in addition to Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, account for more than 86% of all of India’s trafficked women and girls.


The extent of HIV / AIDS in India 
5.7 Million people in India are infected with HIV / AIDS, accounting for nearly 1% of the country's adult population between the ages of 15 and 49. 
Nearly 70% of the cases of HIV infection occur in India, as well as one in every seven cases around the world.


What can be done about the overlap of Trafficking networks and HIV/AIDS: 
The World Bank report suggests that a disproportionate number of infection prevention efforts are focused on groups of migrant men, while more attention should be paid to the one million female sex workers (many of whom are trafficked) who are arguably more vulnerable a population and in need of preventative programming. 
At the same time it seems that female sex workers receive a disproportionate amount of blame for the prevalence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Asia. 
Gender inequalities wrongly stigmatize women in regards to HIV/AIDS in much the same way that they stigmatize and victim-blame women trafficked in the sex industry.


The reality of the situation is that young men in India are generally more sexually active than women. 
A 2006 UNAIDS report estimates that in the past twelve months, 12% of males between the ages of 15 and 24 had sex with a casual partner, but only 2% of women in the same age group. It is unfair to assume, therefore, that female promiscuity is the primary source of the problem.



The United Nations' Trafficking in Persons Report 2006
United Nations' WomenWatch Report on Human Trafficking Policy
AIDS in South Asia: Understanding and Responding to a Heterogeneous Epidemic (August 2006)






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