MS Risk Blog

Human Trafficking in India

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While looking at security-related incidents, one cannot avoid noticing the increasing rate of human trafficking in Asia. Human trafficking is the third largest organized crime after drugs and the arms trade worldwide. About 80% of it is done for sexual exploitation, the rest is for ransom, forced labour, organ trade, forced marriage, medical trials, illegal adoption etc., and India is considered to be the main centre of this crime in Asia.

According to official Indian statistics, 88,008 cases of kidnapping and abduction were reported in India during 2016 showing an increase of 6.0% over 2015. Out of these 88,008, only 69,599 persons were recovered meaning that 18,409 of them disappeared. But that is not all, because 549,008 adults were also reported missing and 319,627 of them went untraced.  Moreover, 111,569 children were also reported missing and 55,625 of them disappeared without any trace. In addition, it seems that India’s official statistics heavily underestimate the scale of the problem, because a US State Department report from 2013 estimated that up to 65 million people were trafficked into forced labour in India.

The reasons given for this troubling trend are as varied as India itself. Social inequality, regional gender preference and corruption are all regarded as leading causes of human trafficking.  Even the theory of demand and supply can be cited here referring to the migration of men to major hubs creating a demand for sex resulting in young girls and women being abducted to be used as prostitutes. However, these “young girls and women are not only used for prostitution but also bought and sold like commodity” [to force them into marriages] in many regions […] where female ratio is less than [desirable] due to female infanticide.” Poverty also plays a significant role meaning that being born to a poor family brings with it a higher risk of being sold for money to ensure the survival of the rest of the family.

In conclusion, while the Government of India has undertaken a number of legal measures to fight human trafficking its current jumble of laws dealing with it has done little to crush this thriving businessA new approach of giving greater voice to victims and vulnerable populations in crafting policies that affect their lives, and holds governments more accountable when their rights are violated might be a more viable option.