Combat human trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the gravest deprivations of human rights and dignity. According to Article 23 of the Indian Constitution, trafficking in any form is prohibited. Yet, this modern-day slavery is growing in intensity, dimension and spread, for reasons that range from commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), forced labour, organ trade as well as for purposes of militancy and surrogacy.

Trafficking across state borders in India continues to rise due to increased mobility and the presence of unorganised industries that traditionally use forced labour such as construction, textiles, wire manufacturing for underground cables, biscuit factories, and floriculture. Boys from Bihar are subject to forced labour in the embroidery factories of Nepal. A large number of female Nepali, Afghani and Bangladeshi children, as well as women and girls from China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Philippines and Uganda are subject to sex trafficking in India.

The organised crime of human trafficking involves several types of exploitation and human rights violations including physical and emotional deprivation, sexual exploitation, servitude, criminal confinement, sale and purchase of human beings and their commodification, among others. Human trafficking accounts for nearly 230,000 children who went missing between 2012-14. According to the Home Ministry, Government of India, over 104,000 of them remain untraced.

Despite such alarming dimensions of intensity and spread, the data on human trafficking has not been documented through research. While assessing the numbers is a difficult and complicated process, no positive or prospective action can be undertaken unless its prevalence and trends are known. Comprehensive research on this issue is imperative to any further action.

The Tata Trusts are conducting the ongoing National Research on Human Trafficking study through Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to understand the complexity and spread of the human trafficking problem and existing gaps in the system and mechanisms that need to be addressed to combat human trafficking.

The study has completed the collection of data in 29 states and three union territories through household surveys and secondary data collection from state, district, block and village levels. It aims to explore the current forms of human trafficking, estimate its extent, modus operandi, and the nature of exploitation. It also seeks to examine the social, economic, political and cultural context in which trafficking thrives.

The research will reveal the nature of intra-country and trans-border trafficking as well as the policies, strategies and actions undertaken at the sub-national, national and international level to combat this threat. It will provide a clear understanding of the circumstances that lead to trafficking, the ways of addressing the context to prevent trafficking, and of making anti-trafficking laws, policies, programmes and services to prevent and combat trafficking.

The main objectives of this research are to:
  • Estimate the nature and extent of human trafficking in the country – including an assessment of the web of human beings organising and administering the trade in the place of origin, transit and destination points. It is also necessary to estimate the economics of trafficking, trafficking across state and country borders, through militancy/extremism affected areas such as the north-eastern states, or the Naxal-afflicted ones.
  • Assess the economics/finances of human trafficking in India – this includes the revenue penetrated by the traffickers as well as the loss of revenue to the victims and others
  • Understand the changing dimensions of trafficking, including place of origin, transit and destination; activities for which trafficked; transaction costs among the players; the nexus between the social, economic, political and administrative personnel and the vulnerable populations likely to be trafficked.
  • Identify social, economic, cultural and political causes at household, community and regional level as these are factors that move women and children to the custody of others.
  • Trace the processes, whether systemic or sporadic, organised or unorganised, that are involved in human trafficking, and understand the levels of exploitation that affect human dignity and freedom, and cause harm to self and dependents.
  • Understand linkages between human trafficking, migration and missing children.
  • Examine the current response systems including the legal framework, policies, state and non-state interventions, as well as community responses including the role of Panchayat Raj institutions, and village level committees to combat human trafficking.
  • Suggest and recommend ways to address gaps identified through the research.

The goal is to develop a roadmap to reverse the processes of trafficking and to detail a comprehensive framework to provide adequate support to victims to rebuild their lives outside the exploitative network.

The report will deliver:
  • A national human-trafficking route map.
  • A fact sheet covering the high-risk sources, transit and destination areas, the extent and magnitude of trafficking, etc, at every state and national-level.
  • An approximate number of trafficked persons in the country.
  • The process of trafficking including the causes, consequences, costs and the modus operandi.
  • State and non-state responses to prevent and combat human trafficking and support trafficked persons to get out of the web of exploitation and re-enter the social mainstream.
  • Suggest strategies for safe migration.
  • Suggest areas for special training for state and non-state functionaries.
  • Theory building on the phenomenon of trafficking and exploitation.

This will allow the next steps to be taken at state and national level.

The Trusts’ future plans include a planned intervention in trafficking-prone states to strengthen prevention mechanisms to combat human trafficking. These include:
  • Government mechanisms for the prevention and response to human trafficking incidences through technical support and capacity building.
  • Care, protection and rehabilitation of trafficked victims.
  • Generating awareness among the community by engaging the panchayat, village-level committees, and youth in colleges and schools.

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