Human Trafficking: Cause for concern

Children rescued from in Mumbai
Human abuse: The highest number of human trafficking cases were recorded in West Bengal

Of late, there were reports that demonetisation had curbed human trafficking in the country as the whole process involves cash transaction. But the latest data by the Ministry of Women and Child Development tells an entirely different story. Almost 20,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 per cent from the previous year, the government data point out.

The recent data suggests that South Asia, with India at its centre, is one of the fastest growing regions in terms of human trafficking in the world. Minister of State Krishna Raj recently told parliament that a total of 19,223 women and children were trafficked last year against 15,448 in 2015, with the highest number of victims recorded in the eastern state of West Bengal.

Rajasthan, the data from the National Crime Records Bureau suggests, has the second highest number of trafficked children in 2016. Meanwhile, Maharashtra recorded the second highest number of trafficked women, the attached office of Ministry of Home Affairs said. The other states with higher number of women and child trafficking cases are Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Data from Delhi and Nagaland are awaited.

According to NGOs that handle trafficking cases, the actual figure could be much higher than the number of cases documented by the Ministry as victims generally don’t register complaints at the police stations due to lack of awareness. “We have been working with the police and the government in rescuing victims. We need to move into the interiors of the state to speed awareness among young girls,” said Rishikant of Delhi-based anti-trafficking NGO Shakti Vahini.

Rajasthan recorded the second highest number of trafficked children last year, says study

Innocent and unsuspecting victims — that mainly include poor men, women and children from rural areas — are lured by traffickers who promise them good jobs and better earning prospects. Women, most of the time, are pushed into brothels or end up becoming domestic workers. Many of the men and children are forced to work in small industries such as textile workshops, farming, etc. They are either not paid at all or gets peanuts for their hardwork. Many of them are held in debt bondage. Some go missing. Only lucky ones get traced and reunited with their families.

A 14-year-old married girl was brought to the City by her husband from Jharkhand to secure her a job, but instead he sold her to a 40-year old man for 70,000. She was sexually abused for several days in Haryana. “After receiving the complaint from her family, we started searching for her and through some source we rescued her in Haryana. Now she is admitted to a hospital because she was pregnant,” said Nirmal Gorana, Convener of National Campaign Committee for Eradication OF Bonded Labour (NCCEBL).

“The Ministry of Home Affairs is directly monitoring trafficking cases via its Anti-Trafficking Cell in different states on regular basis. However, the situation of trafficking in West Bengal is still alarming. We need to reach remote areas,” said Rishikant.

The good news is that the human trafficking cases have declined in a few states in past one year. The number of cases in Assam, according to the ministry’s data, has dropped from 187 to 163. Jharkhand has also shown a decline in cases from 162 to 130. Trafficking in Kerala, however, rose from 764 in 2015 to 1064 in 2016.

“Across India, young girls and boys are being trafficked mostly from tribal and far-flung areas such as Assam, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, and Bihar and across the borders from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal. It is because of factors like poverty, unemployment and armed conflict. They are trafficked for the purpose of child laborers’, domestic workers and for sex work,” said Nirmal Gorana, head of the National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour.