A grave offence, trafficking in persons is broadly defined as a type of contemporary slavery comprising the use of violence, force, deception and coercion by traffickers in order to dominate their victims. The existence of the elements of force, violence and coercion espouses that there was no free consent given by the victim.A heinous violation of human rights, it is undertaken for the purpose of engaging the victims in commercial sex activities or labor services against his or her will.
A chief concern of the twenty first century, trafficking of humans has advanced at a dangerously rapid pace, along with the advent of mass movement and free trade brought by globalisation. The origin of global human trafficking can be traced to the African slave trade. The trade was legal as well as tolerated by the government prior to the first-ever legislation attacking slavery by the British in 1807. Soon, the United States followed suit in 1820 and banned slavery. Previously, the word ‘trafficking’ was employed for the transfer or transportation of persons for the objective of such activities that are immoral and hidden from society.
Multitudinous methods and tactics are utilised, so as to ensnare the innocent masses and exploit them further. Scores of men, women and infants fall prey to the traps of traffickers, in their respective countries as well as in foreign lands. Nearly all nations are deeply impacted by human trafficking. It involves the abuse of a position of power or of vulnerability or even may include the outflow or inflow of money or benefits to garner the acceptance of one exercising control over another, for the objective of exploitation. In turn, exploitation comprises prostitution of its victims or other types of sexual exploitation, compelled labour or services, slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
Year after year, human traffickers reap exorbitant amounts of money as profits by victimising and exploiting millions of people around the globe. In spite of education and awareness about the crime, it still occurs and continues to go unreported because of its covert character, the definition going misconstrued and an absolute lack of awareness of its signs. In all areas of the world, human trafficking has deplorable repercussions for its victims as well as the larger community. Everywhere, society suffers from devastating exploitative victimisation.
A market-fueled criminal industry, trafficking stems from the principles of demand and supply, much like arms trafficking and illegal substances such as drugs. To eradicate the poisons of trafficking in toto, it’s pertinent to take into consideration these demand-driven components and modify the entire market stimulus of large profits and negligible risks which traffickers presently exploit.Left uncontrolled, trafficking will steadily flourish in surroundings where traffickers can acquire considerable pecuniary gains coupled with a relatively lower risk of being caught or losing profits.
Notwithstanding the massive economic, political, social and religious differences of the countries in Asia, all nations face the brunt of human trafficking alike.Owing to the long traditions of human victimisation, there subsists a lack of political will to address the issue in most Asian nations. Moreover, high levels of corruption within the country drives human trafficking in several countries. The diversity of the issue emphasizes that a single scheme cannot defeat trafficking in humans worldwide.
India has one of the highest human trafficking rates in the world. According to the statistics of the government, a child goes missing in every eight minutes in India. Further, thousand of cases go unreported. Despite a lack of accurate figures on the statistics of trafficking within South Asia, the UN Office for Drugs and Crime has declared the region as the fastest-progressing and second-largest area for trafficking across the globe. International harmony, cooperation, stricter laws and stringent penalties are essential to eliminate the widespread issue. India published a draft of the nation’s first all-inclusive anti-human trafficking law in May,2016, that would treat survivors as victims in need of aid and support and provides for special courts to expedite cases. However, charities and activists have attacked the draft, stating that the proposed legislation is inadequate and fails to consider all aspects of the crime. The final bill is proposed to be brought before the parliament before the end of the year.
With regards to the legal framework on the subject of Human trafficking, myriad International and National Conventions, legislations and protocols have been enforced by the international as well as state agencies and departments. International convention for the suppression of the traffic of the women and children (1921), Slavery Convention (1926), ILO Forced Labour Convention (1930), International Convention for suppression of traffic in women of full age, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Convention for the suppression of the traffic in persons and of exploitation of the Prostitution of others (1949), UN convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984), UN protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, 2000 are some of the international agreements.
The legal framework covered under the ambit of the Indian territory has a powerful foundation as the matter is under the purview of the fundamental rights,enshrined in the constitution of India. Article 23 (1) in the constitution of India prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labour. The Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 was enacted with an objective of abolishing the immoral trafficking in women and girls. This act was later amended and renamed as The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986 (ITPA)and it exclusively caters to trafficking.
India’s measures to render assistance and protection to victims of trafficking differs from one area to another, but is insufficient in many regions. Complex and multidimensional, human trafficking requires a multidimensional approach. An insight and study into its root should address the various factors that are specific and exclusive to India, its socio-economic environment and levels of poverty. A gross infringement and violation of human rights, any strategy to terminate it must be framed with a human rights perspective by seating the victim at the center. A view that predominantly seeks to prosecute and penalise the traffickers bears the potential to oversee and neglect the fundamental human rights of the victims.
By: Anshritha Rai