Child Trafficking in India: Facts, Causes, Global Initiatives, Indian Laws and Solutions

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Child Trafficking in India
Child Trafficking in India

Assam CM directs DC to step up surveillance for child trafficking control.

Introduction

Human trafficking encompasses the transportation, recruitment, transfer, harboring, and reception of individuals through methods such as force, threats, or coercion. The main objective of these actions is to exploit these individuals for various degrading purposes.

This exploitation takes on various forms including prostitution, organ trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, and servitude. Although this issue exists globally, certain regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia are particularly affected by human trafficking.

Facts and Statistics about Child Trafficking in India

Child trafficking is a grave issue in India, and while precise statistics can be challenging to obtain due to the secretive nature of the crime, various studies and reports have shed light on its extent.

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 3,466 reported cases of child trafficking in India in 2019.
  • UNICEF estimates that approximately 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide every year, and India is considered a source, transit, and destination country for child trafficking.
  • The majority of child trafficking cases in India involve forced labor, sexual exploitation, child marriage, and domestic servitude.
  • The states most affected by child trafficking in India include West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra.

Major Reasons for Child Trafficking

Child trafficking in India is driven by a combination of factors, including:

  • Demand for cheap labor and commercial sexual exploitation: The demand for child labor in industries like agriculture, construction, and domestic work, as well as for commercial sexual exploitation, perpetuates trafficking.
  • Social inequalities and discrimination: Marginalized communities and those facing social discrimination are disproportionately affected by child trafficking.
  • Poverty and lack of economic opportunities: Families living in poverty often fall prey to traffickers who promise them a better life for their children.
  • Illiteracy and lack of awareness: Limited education and awareness about the dangers of trafficking make individuals and communities vulnerable.
  • The practice of selling children to brothels in certain regions not only supports child trafficking but also perpetuates traditional and religious customs such as Jogin and Devadasi, where young girls are dedicated to deities.
  • Child trafficking has become the third most profitable criminal industry worldwide, following drugs and weapons. The allure of high financial returns with minimal investment makes it an attractive enterprise for criminal syndicates.

Various International Initiatives to Address this issue

  • The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN GIFT) was created to promote global efforts against human trafficking based on UN agreements.
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was established in 1989,
  • In 2000, India signed the Palermo Protocol, which provides a clear definition of trafficking to aid in combating it.

Laws and Regulations Made by the Government of India

The Government of India has enacted several laws and regulations to address child trafficking and provide legal protection to children. Some key legislations include

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012: This act specifically deals with sexual offenses against children and provides for their protection during investigation and trial.
  • Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, 1976: This act prohibits bonded labor, which is often linked to child trafficking.
  • Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA): This law criminalizes trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and provides for the rescue, rehabilitation, and repatriation of victims.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015: This act focuses on the care, protection, and rehabilitation of children, including provisions for the prevention and control of trafficking.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012 addresses sexual crimes committed against individuals under 18 years old, who are legally considered children.

  • The Act introduces definitions for “penetrative sexual assault,” “sexual assault,” and “sexual harassment.”
  • The severity of the offense increases if it is committed by a police officer, public servant, or staff member at a remand home, protection or observation home, jail, hospital, educational institution, or member of the armed or security forces.
  • The Act, enforced since November 14, 2012, along with its accompanying regulations, serves as a comprehensive law aimed at protecting children from sexual assault, harassment, and pornography.
  • It also ensures the child’s interests are safeguarded throughout the legal process, incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, evidence recording, investigation, and speedy trials through the appointment of Special Public Prosecutors and designated Special Courts.
  • The Act incorporates procedures that are friendly to children for reporting, recording, investigating, and prosecuting offenses.

How to Stop the Menace of Child Trafficking in India

To effectively combat child trafficking in India, a multi-faceted approach involving various stakeholders is required

  • Improve socioeconomic conditions: Address poverty and unemployment through poverty alleviation programs, skill development initiatives, and social welfare schemes
  • Strengthening inter-agency collaboration: Foster cooperation between government agencies, law enforcement, NGOs, and international organizations to enhance information sharing and joint operations.
  • International cooperation: Collaborate with other countries to combat cross-border trafficking networks and improve intelligence sharing.
  • Establish safe migration practices: Strengthen regulation of recruitment agencies and ensure safe migration processes to prevent trafficking during movement.
  • Enhance victim support and rehabilitation: Establish comprehensive victim support mechanisms, including counseling, medical care, and vocational training for survivors.
  • Strengthen law enforcement: Enhance training and capacity building of law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate and prosecute child traffickers.
  • Raise awareness and education: Conduct awareness campaigns to educate communities about the dangers of child trafficking and promote the importance of education.

Conclusion

Child trafficking is a distressing reality in India, with numerous children falling victim to exploitation and abuse. The major reasons behind child trafficking include poverty, lack of awareness, demand for cheap labor, and sexual exploitation, as well as social inequalities. The Government of India has enacted laws and regulations to combat this heinous crime. Despite the existence of laws and initiatives, the prevalence of trafficking crimes remains alarming.

It is necessary to enhance community-based interactions and raise awareness on this issue. Measures such as community-based rehabilitation programs and a review of existing laws to address loopholes should be taken. Tackling poverty-driven child labor requires creating more job opportunities for families, enabling children to attend school. In order to protect victims, prosecute perpetrators, and foster global collaboration, technical assistance, and cooperation need to be strengthened.

Effective exchange of data is crucial, both domestically within administrations and between organizations such as the police and NGOs, as well as across different nations. Overall, to effectively combat the threat of human trafficking, it is imperative to enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies and NGOs working in this field.

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