Human trafficking refers to the illegal trade of humans, for the purpose of Sexual slavery, slavery, forced labor, extraction of organs, or domestic servitude.
Human trafficking, after drugs and the arms trade, is the third-largest organized crime across the world. As reported over the past five years, India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Forced labor constitutes India’s largest trafficking problem; men, women, and children in debt bondage – sometimes inherited from previous generations – are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, embroidery factories, and agriculture. Most of India’s trafficking problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata – lowest caste Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women and girls from excluded groups – are most vulnerable.
In India, the legislation that protects the people from this is, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, made in pursuance of the International Convention signed at New York on the 9th day of May 1950, for [the Prevention of Immoral Traffic]. but the catch here is that the legislation is deeply flawed and only combats against human trafficking if it is done for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and not for any other purpose. This is not to say that there are no legal frameworks in place that combat the issue, sections 370 through 374, Of the Indian Penal Code,1860 deal with Laws related to trafficking related to prostitution and buying or selling of human beings. It also recognizes, cross border trafficking into prostitution. The Constitution Of India, itself grants any individual, Guaranteed Human Rights, such as the right to life, personal liberty, etc.
Here it becomes Pertinent to note that Human trafficking, is the root cause, the sole reason that Social evils like slavery and Forced prostitution are still prevalent in society. Yes, there are laws made to protect the right of individuals, yes, in addition to a legal framework, the executive authorities are provided with, enough authority to take strict actions but, still we can only see the numbers rising, The National Crime Records Bureau reported the government’s identification of 22,955 victims in 2016, compared with 8,281 in 2015. The NCRB reported 11,212 of the victims were exploited in forced labour, 7,570 exploited in sex trafficking, 3,824 exploited in an unspecified manner, and 349 exploited in forced marriage, although it is unclear if the forced marriage cases directly resulted in forced labour or sex trafficking.
Not only in India, but also internationally there have been several international instruments that deal with Human trafficking exclusively or indirectly.
Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: This article provides that a person should not be detained under slavery or servitude. Slavery or servitude trade must be prohibited in all their forms.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Articles 8(1) and 8(2) of ICCPR respectively states that the person should not be apprehended under bondage and servitude. The trade which is done for domestic slavery and servitude must be prohibited.
Entire races of people have suffered, due to slavery, from the unfair treatment of dark-skinned people to racial discrimination that led for them to believe that they were somehow inferior to lighter skinned people. Slavery has a very deep rooted, twisted history. Slavery in America started in 1619, when the privateer The White Lion brought 20 African slaves ashore in the British colony of Jamestown, Virginia. The crew had seized the Africans from the Portuguese slave ship Sao Jao Bautista, and then it continued till, its abolition in 1822 by the British, and eventually in 1948 by the United Nations. Even though Slavery has been abolished, it is still practiced, and most people, traded by way of human trafficking are subject to forced labour or slavery.
Human trafficking is also the root cause of Forced prostitution, the laws related to prostitution in India are rather, unconventional. The act of selling one’s body for financial gratification is called prostitution. As per the law, the act of prostitution is illegal if done within 200 yards of a public place, and running a brothel is completely illegal. The women who are made to sell their bodies by middlemen, are the ones who are actually getting exploited here, they are first subjected to physical torture by the men who ‘purchase’ them, and then subjected to a life time of mental harassment and Physical torture. The law also doesn’t give them any benefit of the doubt, it treats them as delinquents, under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, many prostitutes are prosecuted for public indecency or public nuisance, instead of understanding that they are victims, The are being treated as if they have always had a choice.
The major reasons that these practices are still prevalent are because of the primitivity of the legal framework and most importantly the lack of education and the fact that most strata’s of the society lack awareness, they do not know that they have rights and liberties and they now have ways to enforce their rights and have redressal Forums, even though the Legal system isn’t as evolved as it should be, it is still capable of helping the aggrieved.