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RSTV – THE BIG PICTURE ANALYSIS
Tackling Human Trafficking
The Topic covers GS paper 1 [Social empowerment]
Last month, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warned the world that the Covid-19 pandemic would lead to a major increase in human trafficking.
India’s Home Ministry responded by issuing an advisory to its state governments earlier this month, with clear instructions to set up or improve local anti-trafficking networks.
What is the background?
The Ministry has written to states and Union territories to expedite the setting up of new anti-human trafficking units (AHTUs) and upgrade the infrastructure of existing ones to ‘combat and prevent’ human trafficking.
The AHTUs are an integrated task force to prevent and combat the menace of human trafficking.
Trained representatives from the police, department of women and child development, other relevant departments and renowned non-government organizations are part of the unit which was first established in 2007.
While the Central government has provided financial assistance for setting up physical infrastructure in these units, it is the responsibility of various states to depute suitable manpower to manage them.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking involves recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, for the purpose of exploitation.
Exploitation includes, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.
What are the statistics?
It is estimated that 16 million women are victims of sex trafficking in India a year; 40% of them are adolescents and children, some as young as nine years old.
Over 70% of victims are illiterate and 50% report a family income of less than USD 1 a day.
The victims are further plagued by low wages, exploitation by traffickers, customers and society, and reduced life expectancy.
Trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation continues to be a significant issue in India, a crime that denies millions of women and girls their basic rights to liberty and education, and causes serious health problems.
What is the way forward?
To tackle the problem of sex trafficking in a holistic and comprehensive manner, the report recommends investing in systematic, centralized collection and analysis of data across stakeholder groups and geographical regions to understand the size and scope of the problem accurately.
Then, it is important to strengthen institutional capacity and engage key responders to enhance its effectiveness.
It is also essential to educate and track the performance of key responders across all stages: prevention, protection, and prosecution.
Finally, it is recommended to focus on anti-sex trafficking efforts on the demand side, as reducing demand is a form of primary prevention.
The government needs to look at the scope of trafficking crime in respect of social media. The new law should have a provision to address human trafficking crimes via social media. According to some sources, the Bill defines human trafficking and provides for strict punishment and also bears the provision of rehabilitation.
The capacity building of the Police along with that of the NGOs is necessary to tackle the menace of human trafficking. There is a need to ensure proper data sharing, internally in an administration or between agencies like the police or the NGOs, or between the different countries as well.