Human trafficking is a serious global problem violating human rights of the individuals who are trafficked illegally by force. Trafficking in persons is more like a form of modern slavery where the individuals are transported to different places either within a country or abroad for using their labor in different sectors, sex trade and other commercial purposes. The trafficked individuals are severely exploited in every possible way by the traffickers and the parties who benefit from the laboring activities of the individuals. The criminal practice of using and exploiting human beings for commercial reasons is not something new.
Forms of trafficking human beings
It is very difficult to assess exactly where and when trafficking of human beings started but according to a few sources the United States continues to be the largest destinations for the subjects of sex trade. It is estimated that around 1000000 individuals become victims of this social injustice and they are trafficked globally. Out of which between 20000 and 50000 are transported to the United States. Although trafficking is done irrespective of gender and age but it is often seen that maximum number of times women and young girls including minors become the victims of trafficking. This clearly indicates a gender based dimension of trafficking under patriarchy. Another important aspect of trafficking is about the social class of the victims. The victims of trafficking in India are either illiterate or barely literate belonging to the underprivileged section of the society. This situation is almost same for all the countries involved in the chain of trafficking.
The Gendered Angle of Human Trafficking
Gender discriminatory factors play key roles in keeping the phenomenon of trafficking going. The reasons are closely associated with gendered mindset nurtured by the patriarchal society which views the role of a woman as that of a sex object within the society. Child marriage, prostitution, negligence of women and girl children within the families, violence against women, poverty, migration etc are the major reasons behind pushing women in the hellish condition of trafficking activities. The patriarchal nature of society considers girls as burdens of the families living on the mercy of male members. Earlier child marriage of a girl was conducted to transfer the liability from the house of her father to the house of her husband. Such an act was highly exploitative for all the minor girls which subjugated their freedom in all the ways and most particularly controlled their bodies. Unfortunately today even after strict prohibitions on child marriage young minor girls are still married off to men much older than them in many parts of the world. Most of times the minor brides are sold as commodities giving complete accessibility of violent sexual exploitation to the families where they are married off. Young girls and adult women are often trafficked for prostitution and pornographic purposes too.
Demands of women in the illicit trades
The business of prostitution and presence of brothels for sexual activities are the important reasons for which women are trafficked. The illicit global sex trade makes women and minor girls more vulnerable to trafficking. Physical features like complexion (mostly fair or light skin), age, looks, etc are the important parameters considered while bringing girls into the business of prostitution. Region from where a girl belongs is also another factor considered by traffickers and the owners of the brothels to fulfill the demands of the clients. That’s why girls are kidnapped, abducted or trapped with false commitments for trafficking purposes. Countries like Nepal, Dubai, Thailand, etc are used as zones for trans-border trafficking in India. Most of the times it is seen that women are lured with fake marriage proposals, job offers and stories of leading a better life with sufficient income. This is how they get trapped by the agents of trafficking. Sometimes girls are also pushed into this business by their own families because the poverty stricken households become easy targets of the agents of trafficking. The parents or other family members are convinced with false job offers and they become ready to send their daughters to unknown places. But there are also families which consider girls as burdens and accept quite a pretty good sum of money from the agents and handover the girls to them. This is indeed pathetic to find that instead of protecting the daughters from predators it is the family which is also considered to be the safest place get involves in the exploitative activities.
Veerendra Mishra in his study, “Human Trafficking The Stakeholders’ Perspective” stated that more than 12.3 million people become victims of trafficking every year and there are many cases that go unreported. The victims of trafficking are ruled by the social, cultural, economic and political factors as well. The report given by the U.S Department of State in 2008 informed that around 8000 people are trafficked across national boundaries every year and millions are trafficked within their own countries.
Legal measures to prevent trafficking of women and others
Article 23 of the Indian Constitution prohibits trafficking involving any exploitation including sex, labor as well as servitude. Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act (SITA), later renamed as ITPA or Immoral Traffic Prevention Act strictly declares trafficking of women to be illegal. The changes on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance of 2013 based on the suggestions of Justice Verma Committee have stretched the definition of trafficking and included all forms of enslavement and exploitation. It is necessary to deal with the phenomenon with severity of strictness so that the mass exploitation can be stopped. Despite the presence of such laws human trafficking activities are increasing and developing multiple dimensions. The criminals involving in this trade should be severely punished and hunted down with sincerity by the administration so that innocent lives are not harmed. Moreover the educated citizens, experts, NGO members and all other responsible people of the society should come forward to fight against the discriminations on women along with creating awareness programs. It should also be realized by the society that women are neither burdens nor commodities to fulfill lusty urges. Punishments, efficient work of administration, awareness and most importantly education can act as important steps for combating human as well as all forms of illegal trafficking.