Thursday, November 20, 2014

Human trafficking a Growing International Crime and a Threat to National Security-Analysis from an Indian Perspective

An estimated 700,000 to 4 million people around the world are being trafficked for labor and sexual exploitation each year. Human trafficking is the fastest-growing source of profit for organized crime.

Wikipedia defines human trafficking as the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery.
Trafficking is a lucrative industry. It has been identified as the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable illegal industry in the world. In 2004, the total annual revenue for trafficking in persons were estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion. However compared to the drugs and arms trades, however, it is more difficult to track down perpetrators in the multibillion-dollar trafficking business. Victims of forced labor and sexual exploitation are not always identified as such and can even face unjust criminal prosecution themselves.
Human trafficking, either for sexual or labor exploitation, is truly a global phenomenon. There are no regions of the world that are not affected by trafficking. Millions of men, women and children who leave home in search of better socio-economic prospects are vulnerable to exploitation and this very migration "feeds trafficking."
Human trafficking differs from people smuggling. In the latter, people voluntarily request or hire an individual, known as a smuggler, to covertly transport them from one location to another. This generally involves transportation from one country to another, where legal entry would be denied upon arrival at the international border. There may be no deception involved in the (illegal) agreement. After entry into the country and arrival at their ultimate destination, the smuggled person is usually free to find their own way.
While smuggling requires travel, trafficking does not. Much of the confusion rests with the term itself. The word "trafficking" includes the word "traffic," which means transportation or travel. However, while the words look and sound alike, they do not hold the same meaning.
Victims of human trafficking are not permitted to leave upon arrival at their destination. They are held against their will through acts of coercion and forced to work or provide services to the trafficker or others. The work or services may include anything from bonded or forced labor to commercialized sexual exploitation. The arrangement may be structured as a work contract, but with no or low payment or on terms which are highly exploitative. Sometimes the arrangement is structured as debt bondage, with the victim not being permitted or able to pay off the debt.
Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is probably the least known form of labor trafficking today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service in which its terms and conditions have not been defined or in which the value of the victims’ services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. The value of their work is greater than the original sum of money "borrowed."
Forced labor is a situation in which victims are forced to work against their own will, under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment, their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. Men are at risk of being trafficked for unskilled work, which globally generates $31bn according to the International Labor Organization. Forms of forced labor can include domestic servitude; agricultural labor; sweatshop factory labor; janitorial, food service and other service industry labor; and begging.
Sex trafficking victims are generally found in dire circumstances and easily targeted by traffickers. Individuals, circumstances, and situations vulnerable to traffickers include homeless individuals, runaway teens, displaced homemakers, refugees, and drug addicts. While it may seem like trafficked people are the most vulnerable and powerless minorities in a region, victims are consistently exploited from any ethnic and social background.
Human trafficking does not require travel or transport from one location to another, but one form of sex trafficking involves international agents and brokers who arrange travel and job placements for women from one country. Women are lured to accompany traffickers based on promises of lucrative opportunities unachievable in their native country. However, once they reach their destination, the women discover that they have been deceived and learn the true nature of the work that they will be expected to do. Most have been told false information regarding the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment and find themselves in coercive or abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous. According to a 2009 U.S. Department of Justice report, there were 1,229 suspected human trafficking incidents in the United States from January 2007- September 2008. Of these, 83 percent were sex trafficking cases, though only 9% of all cases could be confirmed as examples of human trafficking.
Child labour is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development of children and can interfere with their education. The International Labor Organization estimates worldwide that there are 246 million exploited children aged between 5 and 17 involved in debt bondage, forced recruitment for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography, the illegal drug trade, the illegal arms trade, and other illicit activities around the world.
Thousands of children from Asia, Europe, North America and South America are sold into the global sex trade every year. Often they are kidnapped or orphaned, and sometimes they are actually sold by their own families. In the U.S. Department of Justice 07-08 study, more than 30 percent of the total number of trafficking cases for that year were children coerced into the sex industry.
The most comprehensive definition of trafficking is the one adopted by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime in 2000, known as the “UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,” 2000 under the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).
Article 3 of this Protocol States that:
a) Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the 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 the giving or of receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another persons, for 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 services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subpara graph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
c) The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for  the purpose of exploitation shall be considered ‘trafficking in persons’ even if  this does not involve any of the means set forth in sub paragraph (a) of the article;
d) Child shall mean any person less than eighteen years of age.
Human Trafficking in India:
In India, a large number of children and women are trafficked not only for the sex ‘trade’ but also for other forms of non-sex based exploitation that includes servitude of various kinds, as domestic labour, industrial labour, agricultural labour, begging, organ trade and false marriage.

According to NHRC Report on Trafficking in Women and Children, in India the population of women and children in sex work in India is stated to be between 70,000 and 1 million of these, 30% are 20 years of age. Nearly 15% began sex work when they were below 15 and 25% entered between 15 and 18 years.

In India there is an intrinsic relation between the demand and supply factors of the human trafficking industry. Consider the following story:

Smita, now 22, was one of four girls brought in June 2005 from their village in Jharkhand by an acquaintance of her father to a placement agency in Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi. Coming from a family which was reeling in abject poverty a job in faraway Delhi seemed a decent option. However once she reached Delhi she was aghast to find that, while no employment came her way, she found the placement agent continually harassing her for massages. She refused. Three months later, the agent punished her with rape. She ran away that very day, and stayed on the streets for the next two days. She had no money and she didn’t know any Hindi. An NGO, Domestic Workers’ Forum, Chetnalaya, finally came to her aid, but her parents refused to take her back because she had been raped, leaving her nowhere to turn but the rescue home where she still lives. A case was registered in 2007 against the placement agent; he, however, is absconding.

Thus the issue of trafficking in India is almost multidimensional. When analysed it is found that the human trafficking industry in India has certain “supply” and “demand” factors. The “supply” factors include:

1.      Poverty
2.      Female
3.      Foeticide / Infanticide
4.      Child marriage
5.      Natural Disasters (floods, cyclones etc.)
6.      Domestic violence
7.      Unemployment
8.      Lure of job / marriage with false promises
9.      Domestic servitude
10.  Traditional / Religious prostitution (Devdasi)
11.  Lack of Employment opportunities

The “demand” factors include:
1.      Migration
2.      Hope for jobs / marriage
3.      Demand for cheap labour
4.      Enhanced vulnerability due to lack of awareness
5.      Creation of need and market by sex traffickers for ‘experimental’ and ‘tender’ sex.
6.      Sex tourism
7.      Internet pornography
8.      Organized crime generating high profits with low risk for traffickers.

Legal Framework to combat child trafficking in India:

India has a fairly wide framework of laws enacted by the Parliament as well as some State legislatures, apart from provisions of the Constitution which is the basic law of the country.
Legal Framework to Address Trafficking in India

1.      Article 23 of the Constitution guarantees right against exploitation; prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour and makes their practice punishable under law.

2.      Article 24 of the Constitution prohibits employment of children below 14 years of age in factories, mines or other hazardous employment.

3.      Indian Penal Code, 1860 There are 25 provisions relevant to trafficking; significant among them are:
a)      Section 366A – procuration of a minor girl (below 18 years of age) from one part of the country to the another is punishable
b)      Section 366B – importation of a girl below 21 years of age is punishable.
c)      Section 374 – provides punishment for compelling any person to labour against his will.

4.      Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, (ITPA) 1956 [renamed as such by drastic amendments to the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 (SITA). Deals exclusively with trafficking; objective is to inhibit / abolish traffic in women and girls for the purpose of prostitution as an organized means of living; offences specified are:
a)      Procuring, including or taking persons for prostitution;
b)      Detaining a person in premises where prostitution is carried on;
c)      Prostitution is or visibility of public places;
d)     Seducing or soliciting for prostitution;
e)      Living on the earnings of prostitution;
f)       Seduction of a person in custody; and
g)      Keeping a brothel or allowing premises to be used as a brothel.
5.      Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 Prohibits employment of children in certain specified occupations and also lays down conditions of work of children.
6.      Information Technology Act, 2000 Penalizes publication or transmission in electronic form of any material which is lascivious or appeals to prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprive and corrupt persons to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied therein. The law has relevance to addressing the problem of pornography. India has also adopted a code of conduct for Internet Service Providers with the objective to enunciate and maintain high standard of ethical and professional practises in the field of Internet and related services.

7.      Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000: Enacted in consonance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); and Consolidates and amends the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law and to children in need of care and protection. The law is especially relevant to children who are vulnerable and are therefore likely to be inducted into trafficking.

8.      Karnataka Devadasi (Prohibition of Dedication) Act, 1982 Act of dedication of girls for the ultimate purpose of engaging them in prostitution is declared unlawful – whether the dedication is done with or without consent of the dedicated persons.

9.      Andhra Pradesh Devadasi (Prohibiting Dedication) Act, 1989 Penalty of imprisonment for three years and fine are stipulated in respect of anyone, who performs, promotes, abets or takes part in Devadasi dedication Ceremony.

10.  Goa Children’s Act, 2003 _ Trafficking is specially defined;
a)      Every type of sexual exploitation is included in the definition of sexual assault;
b)      Responsibility of ensuring safety of children in hotel premises is assigned to the owner and manager of the establishment;
c)      Photo studios are required to periodically report to the police that they have not sought obscene photographs of children;
d)     Stringent control measures established to regulate access of children to pornographic materials.

International Laws:

International laws lay down standards that have been agreed upon by all countries. By ratifying an international law or convention or a covenant, a country agrees to implement the same. To ensure compatibility and implementation, the standards set forth in these international conventions are to be reflected in domestic law. Implementing procedures are to be put in place as needed and the treaties must be properly enforced.
The following are the most important International Conventions regarding trafficking of children:
1.      The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, 2000.
2.      The Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW) 1979.
3.      The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
4.      Declaration on Social and legal principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with special reference to Foster placement and adoption nationally and Internationally, 3 December, 1986.
5.      SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangement for the Promotion of Child Welfare, 2002.
6.      The Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.

Consequences and risks of trafficking in human beings

Consequences and risks for the victim

Violation of human rights

Victims of trafficking very often are subjected to particularly detrimental forms of physical and/or psychological violence. Human trafficking is a risk to the right to life, liberty and security of person, as victims face physical and psychological violence, are kept against will, being held in slavery and servitude, being subject to torture cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, etc.

To summarize, when each of the above control mechanisms are considered together, the outcome is a regime of actual and psychological imprisonment and torture. It is important to view the situation through the eyes of a (female) victim:

Alone in a foreign country, isolated from contact with other compatriots, unable to communicate in the native language, denied possession of own identity and travel documents, denied contact with the family, disorientated by constant movement and re-location, subject to repeated physical and sexual abuse, denied access to police assistance through fear of the consequences, required to engage in physically dangerous and un-protected sexual practices on a daily basis for very long hours with male clients with whom effective communication is impossible, existing under a regime of threats or reprisals against herself and/or her family if she seeks to escape.

Whether all of these factors are applied collectively or singular, it becomes simple to understand why so few trafficked victims seek to escape from their traffickers and why there is such a compelling humanitarian duty upon law enforcement officers to act against the traffickers and provide for the victims’ protection.
Shame, stigmatization and trauma

Victims of forced prostitution are often subjected to psychological and/or physical torture (threats, humiliation and degradation, beatings and rape) by their traffickers. In many cases the women blame themselves for having become involved in trafficking and prostitution. They later feel ashamed to have given in to the demands of their tormentors.

When forced to return home, the victims are faced with disappointment from their families and friends, having fallen short of everyone’s expectations to make a new start in the West (this can also be the case with victims of forced labor). Others are stigmatized as prostitutes and have great difficulties re-integrating in their country of origin. In many cases, the full psychological consequences of their ordeals first become apparent months after the traumatic experiences have occurred. Frequently an intensive period of therapy is the only way to help the victims come to terms with what they have been put through.


Victims are very often regarded as offenders and accomplices instead of victims of crime. Hence they are – instead of receiving assistance and protection – accused of offences such as illegal entry and stay, illicit employment, illegal prostitution, impermissible begging, dealing in illicit drugs, and other petty crimes.

Secondary victimization

Victims moreover face secondary victimization. Child victims involved in human trafficking cases in addition face the risk that the law enforcement and judicial authorities do not use the child friendly instruments for sexual abused children.

Consequences and risks for the state and society
a.       Destabilization of existing labor markets
b.      Growth and diversification of organized crime
c.       Growth of money laundering
d.      Growth of corruption
e.       Undermining governmental action and the rule of law
f.       Growing number of socially excluded persons
g.      Growth of social problems which are weakening the society

Consequences and risks for the traffickers

Trafficking in human beings is often called a “low risk high profit” crime. This term refers to the prevalent situation that traffickers hardly face criminal proceedings, as the risk of detection, arrest and adequate punishment remains low. Yet, the profit of trafficking in person tends to surpass that made in the trafficking in drugs and arms.

Reasons for the lack of prosecution and convictions are the underground nature of the crime, the lack of testifying victims (in many European systems the investigations into trafficking cases are based on victims’ complaints) be it due to fear or due to the fact that many victims are even detained/deported as illegal immigrants/criminals, the lack of adequate anti-trafficking legislation.

Human Trafficking as a threat to National Security with special reference to the eastern border of India:

In India human trafficking is rampant across the border areas on the Eastern side. On the eastern side India is chiefly bordered by Bangladesh and Nepal. And these two regions pose the largest threat to the Indian security scenario. Every year large number of people crosses over to the Indian side from Nepal and Bangladesh. Uttarakhand, Assam and Meghalaya act as the chief entry points from this illegal immigration. The illegal immigration overlaps human trafficking in some cases especially in the case of women since sometimes women are forcibly pushed across the border.

Recent reports have indicated setting up of schools which have affiliation to terrorist’s organizations near the Indo-Bangladesh border. Such schools impart students with basic training of Indian language and then send them over to the Indian side with a mandate to indulge in anti national activities. For any state it is almost impossible to take action against non state actors which threaten the national security and this is the case with the present setup. The illegal persons cross over to the border and from Assam make their entry to various parts of the country including Delhi Mumbai Calcutta etc. Such cities have in recent times seen a large rise in crimes committed and a number of such crimes can be attributed to these illegal immigrants who threaten the very security of the country.

Others have gained hate discourses join the various terrorist cells in and around the country. Such persons often act as the local agent, bomb carrier, gun runner etc of the terrorist organisation when they carry out various nefarious activities. The advantage of using such persons in the logistical network stems from the fact that because they have entered the country illegally the local law enforcement authorities are not able to track their movements and hence it gives them the necessary freedom required to move as per the prerequisites of the plan.

These persons often suffer from abject poverty. Usually the conditions which forced them to illegally immigrate to other countries remain the same when the cross over to the other side. This is aptly demonstrated by the fact that many ghettos or colonies of the doubtful residents in Delhi, Coimbatore, Chennai, and Guwahati etc are worse. The people in such colonies usually live in abject poverty. Such colonies often can be equated to the slum areas of any region of the country. Thus , living in abject poverty in conditions which can be called inhuman at worst force the people to take up the path of crime. Thus the abject poverty becomes a rallying call to involve themselves in anti-national activities since their dream of a perfect future has been shattered.

A cursory glance in the crime rate in Delhi will indicate almost a 10% rise in the past 1 year in the crimes. This difference is most stark in areas where doubtful residents have recently set up their homes. Thus it is clear that there exists a clear link between the crime rates, threat to national security and its perception with rest to illegal trafficking and its fallout.

Combating of Trafficking

Prevention of human trafficking requires several types of interventions. Prevention as a strategy to combat trafficking has to focus on areas of sensitization and awareness among the public, especially those vulnerable pockets of trafficking at source areas as well as convergence of a developmentservices to forestall conditions responsible for it.

Role of State

·         Government at local level and source areas should create compulsory high quality education, employment opportunities and income generation programme.

·         Government should produce relevant IEC materials; promote sensitization programmes for teachers in government schools, parents and community workers.

·         Government should include gender centered education curricula in schools and introduce subjects of child sexual abuse and trafficking.

·         The government of different nations must share the information with each other to evolve a programme that will help both the countries in preventing trafficking.

Role of NGOs

·         The community should be sensitized about trafficking the community members should be motivated to keep a watch in the community for irregular movement of child victims to and from area their possible traffickers and hideouts.

·         NGOs working in the rural areas should ensure that parents are aware of safe migration practices.
Role of Media

Media attention reaches several hundred thousand viewers and should therefore serve the following important functions:
·         The media should transmit appropriate message to ensure that the victims learn that they are not alone.
·         Victims can be made aware of places and institutions where they can seek help.
·         Create awareness that human trafficking is inappropriate and illegal and has negative consequences.
·         Wide publicity should be given regarding the legal, penal provisions against trafficking and the modus operandi of the traffickers through radio, television etc.

Awareness and Advocacy

Awareness and advocacy is required at the policy level i.e. National Planning Commission, bureaucrats, politicians and the elite of the society. Awareness at the local level, in the community through workshops, songs, drama, poems, meetings, leaflets and posters especially in the rural areas is also required.

·         The role of gender in daily life and training programmes and activities for gender sensitization must be conducted by NGOs. The key to prevent trafficking in children and their exploitation in prostitution is awareness among the children, parents and school teachers.

·         The government must launch media campaigns that promote children’s right and elimination of exploitation and other forms of child labour.

·         Police advocacy is an important intervention that has to be fine-tuned.


Human trafficking is indeed a modern form of slavery. It includes the most inhuman of practises which goes against the very ideals of life of dignity of a free man as envisaged in the UN charter. It is also seen as a large threat to the security and integrity of a counrty. Hence every measure must be made in lines of a multi sectoral approach by successive governments to wipe out this menace from the face of this planet.



2.      Govt. of India, 1991, Central Social Welfare Board report on Trafficking, Delhi.


4.      DD Basu Constitution of India

-        Ibu Sanjeeb Garg ( The author is currently serving as a probationer in the Indian Railway Traffic Service)