Child trafficking is the practise of enrolling, harbouring, transporting, transferring, or receiving a child for the purpose of exploitation. Human trafficking is considered to be the second-largest form of organised crime in India. In India in 2020, there were 1714 confirmed cases of human trafficking, according to the National Crime Record Bureau. In India, there are an estimated 8 million victims of trafficking, according to unofficial statistics. Moreover, the National Crime Record Bureau reports that 778,379 people have gone missing (2020). A child under the age of 18 who is enlisted, moved, transferred, harboured, or welcomed with the intention of being exploited, either inside or outside of a country, is considered a victim of child trafficking, according to UNICEF. Male young people are often trafficked for labour and used as beggars, whereas female minors are trafficked for marriage, sex work, criminal activity, adoption, and organ trafficking. Children who have been trafficked occasionally wind up in the military or engaging in criminal activity. In addition to these other kinds of employment, the majority of young girls are involved in sex activities. The main reason there are more female victims of trafficking than male is because of sexual exploitation.
A youngster is a victim of human trafficking every third victim who is discovered. Children make up half of the victims in low-income nations, where they are frequently pushed into forced labour. Girls are disproportionately affected by and compelled to deal with violence against women. India’s lower classes are most at risk for child trafficking. Due to their severe socioeconomic situation, the parents of these children are finally forced to sell or ship them in exchange for “better livelihood possibilities” by being deceived or bribed. The parents are promised a daily wage by the traffickers, but it appears that they move the kids to big cities where they are usually treated like commodities. Children are frequently trafficked for the purpose of forced labour (in mines, factories, or farms), begging ring operations, or as combatants in armed wars. Whether they want an education, a better job, or a better life, they are frequently preyed upon and exploited as bait. Poverty is the main factor in child trafficking. When they are forced to abandon or sell their children, economically poor families turn to traffickers for help. Child trafficking is a significant problem in India, particularly in areas affected by natural catastrophes. Families are more prone to become victims of human trafficking in areas with high rates of illiteracy and educational disparities. Child trafficking is facilitated by young marriage, among other things. India is used in South Asia as a transit and final destination country. Both a significant quantity of trafficking among nations and trafficking from India to the Gulf States and South East Asia are ongoing problems. 11,000 of India’s 40,000 stolen children each year are not found, according to the NHRC. Between 12,000 and 50,000 women and children are allegedly trafficked into the nation each year from neighbouring nations as part of a thriving sex trade. In India, a child goes missing every eight minutes. The majority of the millions of missing children who were trafficked likely ended up as slaves, prostitutes, or engaged in forced labour.
West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Gujarat have the highest rates of human trafficking based on documented incidents. West Bengal, Daman and Diu, and Goa are the states with the highest rates of trafficking in terms of crime rates. Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, and Nagaland are among the states with the highest rates of child trafficking. The victims of forced marriage trafficking come from Orissa, Assam, and Bengal in addition to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In contrast, females from indigenous groups are trafficked into the sex trade in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa with false promises of marriage. In addition, risky child labour involving children who have been trafficked has been observed in circuses.
Laws in India for Child trafficking:
The Indian Constitution expressly bans human trafficking on a national level under Article 23. No child under the age of fourteen is allowed to engage in any hazardous occupation, such as a mine or a factory, according to Article 24. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006 and the Bonded Labor System & Abolition Act of 1976 are two specific laws that address the trafficking of women and children.
The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 and the Transplantation of Human Organs Act of 1994. Also, the Indian government has amended the Indian Criminal Code and passed other pieces of legislation to address the problem of child trafficking (IPC). The Criminal Law (amendment) Act of 2013 replaced Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code with Sections 370 and 370A, which set forth comprehensive measures to combat the menace of human trafficking, including the trafficking of children for any form of exploitation, including physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude, or the forced removal of organs. 2012 Children’s Protection from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO).
Constitution of India:
Constitution is the supreme law of the land. A constitution states or ought to state not rules for passing hours, but principles for and expanding future.24 Part III of the constitution of India embodies fundamental rights, which are considered as the conscience of it. The word fundamental means these right inherent rights recognized and guaranteed by the fundamental law of the land. Such rights represent the basic value of the civilized society, and the constitution makers declared that they should be given a higher place in the constitution.
Article 21: Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
Article 21-A: Right to education The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine
Article 23 of the constitution prohibits trafficking in human being and other similar forms of force labour and pronounce that such acts are offences punishable in accordance with law.
Article 24 of the constitution also provides that no child, below the age of 14 years, shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. The Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the part IV of the constitution of India, plays the major role in the formulation of state policy. The directive principles may be also called the basis on which legislature is built on. The directive principles of state policy envisage the socio-economic rights of the citizens of India.
Article 39 of the constitution directs the state to formulate suitable polices protection and promotion of the health and strength of labours and workers, women and the tender age of children, and therefore the citizens are not forced by the economic necessity to enter a vocation unsuited to their age or strength.
It is further provided by the article 37 of the constitution that the state shall direct its policy towards securing that children are given adequate opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner, so that children and the youths are protected against such exploitation.
In Vishal Jeet vs. Union of India 26 (AIR 1990 SC 1412 27) the Supreme Court directed the government to ensure care, protection, development treatment and rehabilitation of victims of commercial sexual exploitation and to set up a central advisory committee in this regards. The central government was further directed by the court to look into the inadequacies of the law, system, and institution relating to prevention and prohibition of trafficking in India. In pursuance of the judgement the Supreme Court, the state governments have also established State Advisory Committees.
In Gaurab Jain vs. Union of India (AIR 1997 SC 3021), the Supreme Court constitutes Mahajan Committee to investigate into the problem of trafficking in human beings and to submit a detailed report along with guidelines for addressing to the issue. The investigation found that a large number of persons who are the victim of prostitution were children.
The Protection of Children from sexual Offences Act, 2012
The Protection of Children from sexual Offences Act, 2012 has been enacted to strengthen the legal provisions for the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For the first time, a special law has been passed to address the issue of sexual offences against children. Sexual offences are currently covered under different section of IPC. The IPC does not provide for all type of sexual offences against children and, more importantly, does not distinguish between adult and child victims.The protection of children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 defines a child as any person below the age of 18 years and provides protection to all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. These offences have been clearly defines for the first time in law. The Act provides for stringent punishments, which have been graded as per the gravity of the offences. The punishments range from simple to rigorous imprisonment of varying periods. There is also provision for fine, which is to be decided by the court.
Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 To combat commercial sexual exploitations and prohibits prostitution. It has provisions for providing rehabilitation and protection to victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
The Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 Defines a child and provides provisions for care and protection of children. It has provisions which provide for protection measures for the repatriation and rehabilitation of children.
Child Labour ( Protection and Regulation) Act, 1986 It has the provisions which prohibits child labour The law has provisions for rehabilitation of child labour.
Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 It defines and prohibits Bonded Labour. It has provision for punishment for bonded labour and provides for rehabilitation measures for bonded labour
Inter-State Migrant Worker (Regulation of Employment Conditions) Act 1979
It provides institutional machinery to provide safe migration opportunities for labour
The Goa Children‟s Act 2003 The Goa Children Act is a State legislation. The legislation provides for holistic care and protection of children. It also has the definition of human trafficking as pr the UN protocol.
Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act , 1979 Inter alia it provides for punishment of persons indulging in organised crime related to prostitutions.
The Emigration Act, 1994 Provides for regulatory mechanism for recruitment agencies and related punishments.
CARA Guidelines The guidelines provide for mechanism to regulate adoptions. It has provisions to prevent human trafficking through adoptions.
The Criminal Law amendment Act, 2013 Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has been substituted with new sections, 370 and 370A which deal with trafficking of person for exploitation. If a person (a) recruits, (b) transport, (c) harbor, (d) transfer, or (e) receives, a person by using threats, or force, or coercion, or abduction, or fraud or deception, or by abuse of power, or inducement for exploitation including prostitution, slavery, forced organ removal, etc will be punishable with imprisonment ranging from at least 7 years to imprisonment for the remainder of that person‟s natural life depending on the number or category of person trafficked. Employment of a trafficked person will attract peal provision as well.
Anti Trafficking Cell
Ministry of Home Affairs Considering the need for combating the crime of human trafficking in India, the Ministry of Home Affairs has established a Nodal Cell for dealing with matters relating to trafficking in human beings. The Cell is, inter-alia, responsible for collecting and analyzing the data related to trafficking from the State Governments/ Union Territories Administrations, identifying problem areas and analyzing causes for their being source/ transit/destination areas, monitoring the action taken by the State Governments/UTs Administrations for combating the crime and organizing coordination meetings with the Nodal Police Officers of States/UTs. Nodal Officers of Anti Human Trafficking Units have been nominated in all States/UTs and MHA conducts review meetings with these officers periodically.
Schemes related to Human Trafficking (Ministry of Women and Child Development)
The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) was launched in 2009, in partnership with the State Governments/UT Administrations, in order to strengthen prevention of child rights violation
CHILDLINE is the country’s first toll-free tele-helpline for street children in distress in the year 1996. It was launched by CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF), Mumbai.
The Ujjawala Apart from initiating legislative measures, Government of India, Ministry of Women and Child Development formulated a Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of Trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re- integration of Victims of Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation. The Ujjawala scheme has five specific for prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and repatriation of victim of women and child trafficking in India.
Below are a few child trafficking incidents that have been recorded for various causes. As there are many reasons why child trafficking occurs, we’ll look at a few actual cases of it below.
Religious prostitution is practised in numerous locales in India and Nepal. There are Devadasi cults throughout Southern India, and in regions like Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, there have also been allegations of temple prostitution.
The brothel is their playground, and they are the targets of their lust. Forced prostitution. Reports claim that India has the highest percentage of child prostitutes in the world—one in every four. Although child labour is a common practise in India, none of it is as harsh as the terror these particular unfortunate children have gone through. At 10, they are sexually assaulted; at 11, they are starved to death and tormented; at 12, they undergo an abortion; and at 14, they are assaulted sexually 15 times a day until they are adults.
(The Sunday Times of India. 15 November, 1998)
“In 1997, a significant number of Bengali kids who had been sent to Saudi Arabia under the guise of visiting Mecca were sent back to India. They chose to stay in the area, where they were forced to beg every day from the numerous pilgrims who visited. After they returned to India, it was discovered that several of them had broken limbs.
(Ofelia Calcetas- Santos. 1999)
“R.C. Gupta met Akram, a native of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, in Lucknow and enticed him with the promise of a job. He led him to Jallandhar, where it is said that he had Akram’s kidney removed and donated to his wife, who was suffering from renal insufficiency. Akram, who is now 22 years old, was 18 when his child was violently taken away.
(The Hindustan Times. 20 April, 2001)
Through and for Adoption
“After learning of child trafficking, the government of Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana) has finally decided to tighten adoption restrictions. The action follows allegations that 28 children died at a Tandur children’s home run by a fictitious non-governmental organisation over the course of the previous two months as well as the Friday night rescue of 34 infants from a phoney child adoption agency in the city. Mahbubnagar, Nalgonda, Rangareddy, Medak, and Hyderabad are the five districts where child trafficking has been documented. In order to better place their children with foreign adoptive parents due to their poverty, tribes and low-income parents are preyed upon in order to “relinquish” their children.
(The Hindustan Times. 22 April, 2001)
Sexual exploitation, such as recognised kinds of prostitution in culture and religion, sex tourism, and pornography are among other drivers of trafficking.
Smuggling, selling drugs, trafficking in human organs, and begging are all prohibited behaviours.
Examples of labour include domestic work, agricultural work, construction work, and bonded labour.
Marriage, adoption, and recreation are more examples.
Because child trafficking is such a delicate issue, it needs to be addressed with a comprehensive plan. There needs to be immediate passage of stricter laws. In order to address, the process and laws must be united right away. There is still a considerable quantity of child trafficking in India. Any efforts to protect children are futile and detrimental because of the terrible poverty. It’s time to accept that unless the causes are addressed, treating the symptoms won’t make much of a difference. In India, child trafficking significantly increased during the COVID-19 shutdown. The national kid line for distress calls established by the Ministry for Women and Child Development monitored 1.92 lakh interventions on the ground between March and August. On a worldwide scale, it is currently rising at an alarming rate. Strict legislation must be implemented, particularly in developing countries, to give children who live below the poverty line a chance at a better life.
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Article Written By Jangam Shashidhar.