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Tackling Human Trafficking (30 July 2020)

Tackling Human Trafficking (30 July 2020)

Why in News:

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. 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 organisations 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.


Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23 (1).

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

Anti-Trafficking Nodal Cell was set up in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) (CS Division in 2006 to act as a focal point for communicating various decisions and follow up on action taken by the State Governments to combat the crime of Human Trafficking. MHA conducts coordination meetings with the Nodal Officers of Anti Human Trafficking Units nominated in all States/UTs periodically.

In 2011, India ratified the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crimes, 2000, including its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in person. In 2015, pursuant to an order of the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Women and Child Development constituted a Committee to examine the feasibility of a comprehensive legislation on trafficking.

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Women and Child Development, Ms. Maneka Gandhi on July 18, 2018 and passed in that House on July 26, 2018. The Bill provides for the prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation of trafficked persons.

Summary of the Debate

Facts and Figures:

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in India in 2016 under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. This is 15% increase from the number of cases reported in the previous year. 
  • In the same year (2016), 23,117 trafficking victims were rescued.  Of these, the highest number of persons were trafficked for forced labour (45.5%), followed by prostitution (21.5%). 
  • International Labour Organisation (ILO) says that in 2019 there were 21 million people trapped in modern slavery.
  • Of this, 14.2 million which is about 68 percent were used as forced labour.
  • 22 percent which is 4.5 million were used in sex trafficking, sex trade, organ donation, etc.
  • And the remaining 10 percent about 2.2 million were used at places where the state was imposing enforced labour, state means there are several countries in the world where actually the government uses poorest of the poor i.e. most marginalized communities both children and women.

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018

  • The Bill creates a law for investigation of all types of trafficking, and rescue, protection and rehabilitation of trafficked victims.
  • The Bill provides for the establishment of investigation and rehabilitation authorities at the district, state and national level. Anti-Trafficking Units will be established to rescue victims and investigate cases of trafficking.  Rehabilitation Committees will provide care and rehabilitation to the rescued victims
  • The Bill classifies certain purposes of trafficking as ‘aggravated’ forms of trafficking. These include trafficking for forced labour, bearing children, begging, or for inducing early sexual maturity.  Aggravated trafficking attracts a higher punishment.
  • The Bill sets out penalties for several offences connected with trafficking. In most cases, the penalties set out are higher than the punishment provided under prevailing laws.

Factors that make a person vulnerable to human trafficking:

  • Poverty is a key push factor.
  • Thousand of migrants who have now returned home without jobs being a key factor at a time like this.
  • Women and young girl children who are deserted, who are single or uneducated or part of large families are highly prone to this vulnerability.
  • Lack of micro credits, small loans at the village level is a big push factor.
  • Impunity of traffickers who approach or reach these poor people as a person with the solution or person who can give them a better future with promise of better employment.


  • There has no any life sentence been awarded anywhere in the country.
  • This is a crime that operates on the laws of economics and these gangsters have deep Maharashtra records highest number of missing women: NCRB - The Hindupockets and flesh with funds they have money power and muscle power.
  • Any adverse news that publishes anywhere soon meets its natural end and is buried because these people have the capacity to buy out the news and the news media.
  • There was no effort on the part of the government to rehabilitate survivors of trafficking and any effort to even send them back.
  • Evolving nature of traffickers, the up rise of technology and the covert way of conducting this crime are few challenges.
  • There are not much information sharing is going between states and there is no national directory on trafficking at all.

Way Forwards: 

  • The cooperation must be develop between centre, states and Intelligence Agencies.
  • There has to be convergence between Government, law enforcement agencies and the NGOs.
  • There should be availability of micro credit at the village level by the Finance Ministry to stop trafficking.
  • Internal vigilance of the police department and the enforcement agencies will also have to be taken at different level, those who are complicit those who are aiding and abetting the crime also need to be weeded out of the system.
  • It is high time to upgrade the rehabilitation centres for the survivors of child trafficking with capacity with resource with budget.

Important points made by the Guests

Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Former Chairperson, National Commission for Women  

  • We have a lot of trafficking around 50 million or so for which there are no real records for.
  • There are also seasonal variations for example in countries where when there is national disaster, in those areas normally the poorest of the poor sells organs for surviving.
  • Today trafficking is not just about sex trafficking, because the percentage of people who are being trafficked only for sex work has dropped. Today enormous amount of it is for organ donation.
  • With increase of disparities in income and socio-economic status throughout the world and the increase of income in Europe and western world, a huge amount of organ trafficking is going on.
  • The most hazardous jobs are being given to children who are being trafficked from poor communities all over the world.

Dr. Vikram Singh, Former DGP, Uttar Pradesh

  • On the operating on the laws of economics of demand and supply this would be somewhere close third as far as crime is concerned after drugs and illegal arms. Human trafficking would be translated in to 150 billion dollars per annum.
  • It is an organized crime well connected syndicate operates in human trafficking on International borders and within the country and it is difficult to identify single segment and age group that is not victim of human trafficking.
  • The scary figure of this crime is 20 million to 60 million and also if the enormity of the problem is such obviously the dishonest policemen, the dishonest prosecution system and the dishonest data have a finger in this dishonest pie.

Mathew Joji, Head, Development, International Justice Mission

  • According to a data provided by Harvard Professor, Siddharth kara’s in 2016, says that traffickers across the world generated revenue of about 164 billion for all types of crime.
  • When the law enforcement really is functional it can be an unstoppable force to deter human trafficking crimes and in India we have seen much progress in informal sectors.


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