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Human Trafficking: A Comparative Study Between India, USA And UK And Amendments And Challenges Before Anti Trafficking Laws

Meaning and Approach of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, a major concern of 20th century is challenging the humanity and affecting the women, men and children all over the world irrespective of the country they belong. Human trafficking which is also a very lucrative business for traffickers is violating national and international laws and most importantly affecting the basic human rights, psycho - social and economic well being of victims.[1]

Being one of major concerns, various governments, national and international agencies, human rights associations and NGOs are effectively addressing this issue with an aim to combat and eliminate the trafficking in person. We often confuse ourselves trafficking with migration and smuggling as all of these involves movement of persons.

However UN "Protocol to Prevent, Supress and Punishing Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime" have made a clear distinction between all these practices by defining Human Trafficking as:
"The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation"[2]

Hence, trafficking in person includes the transportation of persons which is similar for all those above mentioned practices, second the force, fraud or coercion and last but not the least exploitation of victims. Trafficking involves movement but it may occur within or across the borders of countries.

It is largely hidden which has also hidden impact on society at large and affect the victims irrespective of their age because of reluctancy in reporting crimes and improper enforcement of law. [3] Hence, as a student of law I want to delve into this issue as it's study is of utmost importance to provide justice to victims and prevent the basics human rights.

To understand the complexity of trafficking, it is necessary to have a understanding about the various approaches to human trafficking. Gender inequalities, social divisions and stratification have given rise to following approaches such as feminist, absolutist and conflict theory

Feminist Theory:
This school of thought believes that the social, economic, cultural & political subjugation of women had indirect relation with trafficking in women. It denies economic reason behind the women trafficking and contends that a problem of supply and demand with sex industry. It contends that man creates demand and as per their demands there is recruitment (supply) of women which ultimately led to sexual exploitation of women. This ideology can be relatable with the nature and causes of trafficking in India. [4]

Absolutist Theory:
The absolutist theory generally defines trafficking in very broad ways. They didn't include specific term to indicate particular practices, instead includes all surrounding terms such as sexual exploitation to describe an objectionable situation. They defines trafficking as a result of force, coercion, manipulation, deception, abuse of authority, family consent, economic deprivation or other conditions of inequality.

Conflict Theory:
It is based on Marxian ideology where it explains that crime is caused by the economic and social drives within the society. Based on Marxian ideology, it explains the causes and reasoning behind trafficking. It argues that the struggle between two classes ; powerful ( traffickers) and powerless ( victims) leads to social, political, cultural, economic exploitation. They gave much more focus on Gender inequality because in every case women and children are marked as inferior to men and they were exploited by this powerful group by using their power. This theory can be applied upon Indian society where poverty and class struggle is prominent.[5]

Comparative Study Of Human Trafficking In India, USA & UK

Human trafficking is a group of crimes involving trafficking in person of men, women and children for sexual exploitation or for financial gains or other exploitation of trafficked persons.[6] As compared to foreign society, in India human trafficking is one of the critical social problems for which legal framework and interventions are not enough.

There are various factors which contributes towards the increase of human trafficking in India such as economic factors (poverty, lack of employment opportunity, income disparities), socio cultural factors (domestic violence, caste related discrimination etc.), governance issues, micro domestic factors etc.

The researcher has observed that in India the socio cultural and economic issues play key roles in human trafficking. Most of the victims of trafficking are women and children in India. The traffickers induce those women and children who are economically deprived. In US unlike India there is trafficking of persons who are immigrated but in India the trafficking is being committed within and outside country.3

The reason for excessive increase in number of trafficking cases in India are unmanaged border in north eastern regions; with neighbouring countries and the separatist movement in North eastern regions. [7]A total of 6,877 cases of crime relating human trafficking were registered in country during the year 2015.

The crime under human trafficking during the year 2015 has increased by 95.5% over 2011. The procuration of minor girls have increased by 52.8% during the year 2015 as compared to 2014.[8] As per report 10 out of 6 traffic victims are minor girls who are sexually exploited. Though there are various legislations, enactments and launched various scheme such as " UJJAWALA" in 2007 but there has been no ground work to implement such measures. [9]

Only child trafficking cases registered all over India during 2015 was 3,490. This particularly shows the loopholes in enactments, failure of government to control trafficking and implementing measures to combat trafficking in newspaper articles and their propaganda. It is one most concerning problem for all of us as it affects not only social legal systems frameworks but also affecting the very root of Indian cultural values and sanctioned norms.

Human trafficking does exist in US but there are less reports and research on the issues. It seems there is less governmental concern about human trafficking than there is about international terrorism or legality of immigration. As compared to India, in USA there is human trafficking of immigrants as bonded labourers by confiscating their documents such as passports and are forced to work, abused, physical assault, threats by their owners.

In USA, trafficking prevails in the form of modern slavery where slaves have lower value as compare to old slavery system where slaves were expensive. Human trafficking is not a new phenomenon and America is no stranger to slavery. There is rich history of slavery in USA beginning in 1619.[10]In 2018 over 51.6% of criminal human trafficking were reported to be active case in US only for sex trafficking.

There is no proper identification of victims as some estimates are based in immigrants who enter each year and no proper media reports. More research is needed to better determine the extent and scope of human trafficking in United States. Unlike India the major types of trafficking sectors are sex workers, domestic labour, factory labour etc.

Poverty among immigrants is the main theme behind trafficking and though some US citizens are victims but surprisingly most of the victims are immigrants (Bales,1999, 2005; Clawson, Small and Myles, 200; Logan, 2007) unlike India where victims are mostly the citizens of country itself.[11] It all suggests trafficking does exist in US across various sectors and is extremely beneficial for traffickers but there is not much more report about scope and breadth of the crime.

Not only in US but also in UK the lucrative business of trafficking prevails. There are various factors behind trafficking but one of the most important is economic factors. For instance the parents due to poverty rented out own children to those traffickers. Those gangs use them as slaves for stealing, smuggling drugs, to commit crime etc.

Though trafficking prevails in UK but government has implemented measures to tackle the root cause of human trafficking. The UK's policy towards tackling trafficking are; prevention of trafficking at source, investigation and prosecution of perpetrators and protection for victims.

There is no doubt that trafficking does exist in UK but compare to the other countries the UK's government has taken various evolutionary measures to effectively tackle and combat trafficking. The Convention too provides a detailed framework for further developments with which the Government will have to grapple sooner or later.[12]

Various Form Of Trafficking

There are various form of trafficking and one of the most prevalent form of human trafficking that results in servitude is the recruitment and transport of people into the international sex industry. Sex slavery involves males and females, both adults and children, constitutes an estimated 58 percent of all trafficking activities. They are forced to indulge in prostitution, pornography, child sex rings, and sex-related occupations such as nude dancing and modeling.

Victims of sexual slavery are often manipulated into believing that they are being relocated to work in legitimate forms of employment. Additionally, some countries, including India, Nepal, and Ghana, have a form of human trafficking known as ritual (religion-based) slavery, in which young girls are provided as sexual slaves to atone for the sins of family members.

Forced labour has likely been around since shortly after the dawn of humankind, though there are a number of different forms of modern involuntary servitude that can go easily unnoticed by the general public.[13]

For Child labour, children are often sold or sent to areas with the promise of a better life but instead exploits in various forms. The trafficked children are forced to work in industry, sex industry and also used for prostitution, theft, begging or drug smuggling or trade.

Another recent and highly controversial occurrence involving human trafficking is the abduction or deception that results in the involuntary removal of body organs.4 In this form of trafficking, traffickers mostly targets children aged between 12 to 14 years of age who are usually runaways.

There is also another form of trafficking which is prevalent in India from time immemorial but not has been reported like other forms of trafficking. Bride trafficking, where woman or girl is trafficked as a bride for the purpose of sexual exploitation, labour and domestic. There are inadequate amount of research done one this form of trafficking. Even though there are inadequate reports and research but it is one of the worst and rampant form of trafficking existing since eons.[14]

Trafficking Statistics

Trafficking affects both men, women and as well as children. Child trafficking is one those big problems which is much more prevalent all over the world. There are over 40 million victims of human trafficking globally today and out of which 25% are children which means almost 10 millions victims are children globally.

As per the report of National Human Trafficking the average age of child victims is 12 to 14 years and more often forced to work in sex industry. It has also been reported that approximately a child is sold 20-30 times per day and which makes this trafficking a fastest growing billion dollar criminal enterprise. As per the report of Child liberation Foundation, in 2018 over 51.6% of active human trafficking cases in US were sex trafficking involving only children.

It has also been reported that children are trafficked for sex 4 times more than adult and over 51% of cases involve children trafficked for sex.. Estimates point out 168 million children being forced into labor around the world. According to the " 1.2 million children are trafficked every year and out of which 98% of sex trafficking is of minor girls of those families who are poor or homeless and the main target of these traffickers.

Not just girls and womens are trafficked as data shows women and girls make up 55% of human trafficking, that indicates 45% are men and boys. The UN Office of Drugs and Crime published their report in 2016 where they listed highest area of trafficking to be Africa and Middle East at 62% of all child trafficking. For Asia the figures are around 36 %, America it's about 18% and similarly Europe constitute about 18% of child trafficking.[15]

In India a total of 6,877 cases of human trafficking were registered during the year 2015. In India as well most of the victim are minor girls and women who are forced to work in sex industry. Under the Immoral traffic Act the cases registered during 2014 was 2,617 out of which more than 75% were women and minor girls.

The buying and selling of minor girls for prostitution is their daily practice for traffickers. Out of 5,026 cases reported relating child trafficking only 2,438 cases were disposed of by police.[16] Many cases are unregistered in India due to various reason such as improper implementation of measures to combat trafficking, political pressures, poverty, so on and so forth. The extent of family involvement in trafficking of children is up to 4 times higher than in case of adult trafficking and they are trafficked usually for sexual exploitation than adult trafficking. According to IOM and Polaris, one fifth of all identified victims are children.

The highest percentage of female victims can be found in the 18-20 age group, while the highest percentage of male victims can be found in higher age groups. Over fifty percent of identified girl victims are aged between 15 and 17, whereas about forty percent of trafficked boys are under 12 years of age.[17]

Considering all these data and reports from reputed organisation we can clearly analyse that the victims are of particularly age group ranging between 12 to 21 years who are most often forced to work in sex industry ( female victims). It is huge concern for all of us as there is a significant and steady caseload of identified child victims each year. Recent years have seen an increase in this caseload, from 22% in 2015 to 26% in 2017.

Recent Amendments in Law of Trafficking

Taking into consideration recent amendments in law of trafficking in India, it is woefully unaware of the present context of globalisation and changing forms of labour exploitation. There was a recent amendment in Trafficking of Persons ( Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation ) Bill 2018 which has completely failed in protecting victims through mechanism instituted for the same.[18]

Though India is a signatory to United Nation Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Expecially Women and Children of 2000 but there has been a complete failure in conceptualising the trafficking and adopting labour rights approach to trafficking in light of the realities of Indian context where millions of people especially young adults migrate for work. India being signatory, one would expect for comprehensive anti-trafficking laws but it has now become a dark reality of mere expectation.

Considering also that the Government of India is in the process of undertaking extensive labour law reforms, where it seeks to consolidate labour laws, one would expect that a trafficking Bill in 2018 would have a broader perspective towards preventing, suppressing and punishing trafficking of persons by drawing into its ambit aspects of existing laws such as the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 (Bonded Labour Act), the Child and Adolescent Labour (Regulation and Prohibition) Act, 1986, which deal with forced labour and child labour, primarily through regulation and welfare-oriented measures. Unfortunately, this bill seems to provide for a structure without any flesh in place.2 With the passage of time, the forms of labour dispossession and exploitation are also increasing and changing.

Women and girls are entering the labour force in large numbers just to keep the home fires burning is a stark reality. They haven't been paid what has been promise by the agents and they were being physically, emotionally abuse and torture by their employer. Being alone and away from home, these women have no way to escape as they don't know even the name of the location where they work or name of the employer.[19] While considering all these facts: Are such women living in conditions of bondage? Are these women covered by the bill?

Does calling them "trafficked" and sending them to shelter homes help them in any way? Do the provisions on rehabilitation make sense for these women? How are the back wages calculated if the workers only receive a percentage of what they are promised and there are no minimum standards compensation under Section 357A of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 adequate? How do they get back to work?

The bill neither seeks to highlight the need for awareness-raising to facilitate safer channels of migration nor does it consider the trafficked persons as workers who have rights. The recent bills need to more integrated as mechanism set up at various levels are not paying attention to these forms of labour trafficking. Now, there is another tricky issue on the horizon, the current Law Immoral Traffic ( prevention) Act 1956 ( hereinafter referred as ITPA) penalise the clients of sex not sex workers but is not a perfect solution to address such issues.

If clients don't appear at the usual places for fear of arrest, neither will sex workers. The recent amendments to ITPA are concerned only about trafficking and overlooking and ignoring the voice of sex workers. The main criticism against the proposed reforms is that they assume that all sex workers are victims of human trafficking who have been coerced into sex and do not consider the possibility that people on the edges of society, such as the very poor with few marketable skills, may choose to become sex workers to earn money.[20]

The storm in India over prostitution law reform is also a part of a wider global debate. The Union cabinet has been divided on this issues over balancing the laws which deals with public health and human trafficking. Whatever will be the outcome it will be watched keenly by other countries as well. Hence India has also to set examples for them by taking a right way towards it.

In the light of these realities of human trafficking all over the world, various governments, international and national agencies, NGOs, and various other organisation should come forward and join hand to combat these inhumane practice of trafficking through proper measures. The media, researchers, activists should also forward to report the increasing trends of trafficking and suggest some proper remedial measures.

Particularly, in India the government should take proper measures such as preventing the trafficking at it's root by providing employment, education to deprived. There must be proper procedures to prosecute the traffickers and protect the victims of trafficking. All the countries should also take some lesson from UK's mechanism to combat such trafficking at all levels.

The current crime rate relating to human trafficking is increasing day by and it is especially affecting our future generations. Legalisation of prostitution is sometimes thought to be a solution but evidence shows that there is higher risk in increasing demand of women in sex industry which ultimately leads to trafficking. Hence there should be an attempt to amend the age old national and international law to keep pace and balance with the rapid changing world.

All countries should also develop more realistic perspective to prevent forced labour and trafficking. The recent bills amendments in India also must be withdrawn and must be given more thought on it. It should emphasise the need for the involvement of local government institutions that can provide more information to people who wish to migrate and keep track of their movements.

The bill should sincerely put institutional mechanisms in place that safeguard workers' mobility and security. There is also need to create more social awareness with an aim to curb this age old practice. Therefore, keeping the present scenario, the government should initiate some stringent measures which can lead towards the complete elimination of this social problem.

Percentage of these children are runaways who were abused sexually at younger ages.

Most children who are trafficked for sex work are between the ages of 12 and 14 years old. A significant percentage of these children are runaways who were abused sexually at younger ages.

Most children who are trafficked for sex work are between the ages of 12 and 14 years old. A significant percentage of these children are runaways who were abused sexually at younger ages.

  1. Rhacel Salazar Parre as, Maria Cecilia Hwang and Heather Ruth Lee, Sex: A Thematic Issue, 37, UCP, 1015 (2012
  2. Joseph Chamie, Great Decisions, FPA, 77,(2015)
  3. Joseph Chamie, Great Decisions, FPA, 77,2015
  4. Ms. Shatabdi Bagchi, Dr. Ambalika Sinha Human Trafficking in India: Theoretical Perspectives with special reference to the Human Trafficking scenarios in The North Eastern Part of India IJRESS,(2016)
  5. Ms. Shatabdi Bagchi, Dr. Ambalika Sinha Human Trafficking in India: Theoretical Perspectives with special reference to the Human Trafficking scenarios in The North Eastern Part of India IJRESS,(2016)
  6. Human trafficking crime rate, jstor journal (2015)
  7. Ms. Shatabdi Bagchi, Dr. Ambalika Sinha Human Trafficking in India: Theoretical Perspectives with special reference to the Human Trafficking scenarios in The North Eastern Part of India IJRESS,(2016)
  8. Human trafficking crime rate, jstor journal (2015)
  9. Ms. Shatabdi Bagchi, Dr. Ambalika Sinha Human Trafficking in India: Theoretical Perspectives with special reference to the Human Trafficking scenarios in The North Eastern Part of India IJRESS, (2016)
  10. T. K. Logan, Robert Walker and Gretchen Hunt, Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 10, SAGE Open,(2009)
  11. T. K. Logan, Robert Walker and Gretchen Hunt, Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 10, SAGE Open,(2009)
  12. Judith Farbey, Socialist Lawyer, PLUTO ISO4,(2007)
  13. Leonard A. Steverson, trafficking in persons (May 26,2022,3:04PM),
  14. Mohd Irshad, A Review of Bride Trafficking in India (May,27,2022,5:00 AM)
  15. Child Trafficking Statistics, (May,25,2022,11:00 AM)
  16. Human trafficking crime rate, jstor journal (2015)
  17. Age of Victims: Children and Adults, (May,26,2022,7:00 PM)
  18. Nalini Nayak, Anti- Trafficking Bill 2018 Fails to Address Changing Forms of Labour Exploitation 53, EP (2018)
  19. Nalini Nayak, Anti- Trafficking Bill 2018 Fails to Address Changing Forms of Labour Exploitation 53, EP (2018)
  20. Anti-human-traffi cking law sparks debate in India, 371,WR,975,(2008)

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