The Government of India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development has given its approval to a scheme that seeks to offer financial aid to states and Union Territories for the establishment of protection and rehabilitation homes catering to victims of trafficking. The scheme specifically focuses on states located along international borders where incidents of trafficking are more prevalent.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Major Provisions of the Scheme
- Status of Human Trafficking in India
- Relevant Laws in India on Human Trafficking
- Constitutional Provisions on Human Trafficking
- Impacts of Human Trafficking
- Way Forward in Combating Human Trafficking
Major Provisions of the Scheme
Financial aid for protection and rehabilitation homes:
- The scheme aims to provide financial assistance to states and Union Territories.
- The funds are meant for establishing protection and rehabilitation homes for victims of trafficking.
- These homes will cater to the specific needs of victims, especially minors and young women.
- Services provided include shelter, food, clothing, counseling, primary health facilities, and essential daily needs.
Strengthening of anti-human trafficking units:
- Funds from the Nirbhaya Fund have been allocated for this purpose.
- The objective is to enhance the effectiveness of anti-human trafficking units in every district across all states and Union Territories.
- The units will receive support to combat human trafficking more efficiently.
Extension of funding:
- The funding is extended to all states and Union Territories.
- Border Guarding Forces like the BSF (Border Security Force) and SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal) are also included.
- AHTUs (anti-human trafficking units) within these forces will receive financial assistance.
Current status of AHTUs:
- Currently, there are 788 functional AHTUs across the country.
- This includes 30 AHTUs within Border Guarding Forces.
- These units play a crucial role in combating human trafficking nationwide.
Status of Human Trafficking in India
- Human trafficking is a global issue that affects many countries, including India.
- India’s large population, economic disparities, and complex social dynamics make it a hotspot for various forms of human trafficking.
- According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2022, there were 2,189 reported cases of human trafficking in India, involving 6,533 victims.
- Out of these victims, 4,062 were female, 2,471 were male, and 2,877 were minors.
- In 2021, more underage boys (1,570) were trafficked compared to girls (1,307), but among adult victims, women outnumbered men.
States with high trafficking cases:
- Certain states, such as Telangana, Maharashtra, and Assam, reported a higher number of human trafficking cases in their respective Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) in 2021.
- These states, due to factors like geographical location and other vulnerabilities, require special attention and resources to combat trafficking.
Sources and forms of trafficking:
India’s neighboring countries often serve as sources for traffickers who exploit women and girls by offering false promises of employment or a better standard of living.
Various forms of human trafficking exist in India:
- Forced Labor: Victims are coerced or deceived into working under exploitative conditions in industries like agriculture, construction, domestic work, and manufacturing.
- Sexual Exploitation: Individuals, particularly women and children, are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution and pornography.
- Child Trafficking: Children are trafficked for purposes such as child labor, forced begging, child marriage, adoption scams, and sexual exploitation.
- Bonded Labor: People are trapped in debt bondage, forced to work to repay a debt that often increases due to exploitative practices.
- Organ Trafficking: Illegally trading organs like kidneys, liver, and corneas for transplantation purposes.
Relevant Laws in India on Human Trafficking:
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956: This is the primary legislation in India to prevent trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. It criminalizes prostitution and related activities, while also providing measures for the rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration of victims.
- Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012: This act specifically addresses child sexual abuse and exploitation, including child trafficking for sexual purposes. It defines various offenses against children and prescribes stringent punishments for perpetrators.
- Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, 1976: This law prohibits bonded labor and aims to liberate individuals trapped in debt bondage. It provides for the identification, release, and rehabilitation of bonded laborers.
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015: This act focuses on the protection, rehabilitation, and social reintegration of children in conflict with the law, including victims of trafficking. It establishes special courts and provides for the establishment of child welfare committees and rehabilitation homes.
- Indian Penal Code, 1860: Various sections of the IPC are applicable to cases of trafficking, such as Section 370 (trafficking in persons), Section 372 (selling minors for prostitution), and Section 373 (buying minors for prostitution).
Constitutional Provisions on Human Trafficking:
- Article 23: This article prohibits human trafficking and forced labor. It states that trafficking in human beings and forced labor are prohibited, and any contravention of this provision is an offense punishable by law.
- Article 21: This article guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. It has been interpreted by the courts to include the right to live with dignity, free from exploitation and trafficking.
- Article 39: This article directs the State to ensure that the citizens, men, and women, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood and that there is no exploitation of any kind.
- Article 24: This article prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in hazardous occupations.
Impacts of Human Trafficking
Physical and Psychological Consequences:
- Trafficking victims endure physical and psychological abuse, violence, and trauma.
- They often suffer from injuries, sexually transmitted infections, malnutrition, and physical exhaustion.
- Psychological impacts include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a loss of trust in others.
Violation of Human Rights:
- Human trafficking fundamentally violates the victims’ human rights.
- It deprives them of their freedom, dignity, and security.
- Victims are treated as commodities and subjected to exploitation and coercion.
- Trafficked individuals are subjected to harsh working conditions, long hours, and little or no pay.
- In many cases, victims become trapped in debt bondage, where they are forced to work to repay an ever-increasing debt, making escape from exploitation extremely difficult.
Disruption of Social Fabric:
- Human trafficking disrupts the social fabric of communities and families.
- It tears apart families as individuals are forcibly separated from their loved ones.
- This disruption leads to the loss of social support networks and strained relationships within communities.
Way Forward in Combating Human Trafficking
Strengthening Legislation and Law Enforcement:
- Enact and enforce comprehensive anti-trafficking laws that criminalize all forms of trafficking and impose appropriate penalties.
- Enhance training programs for law enforcement agencies, judiciary, and border control officers to effectively identify and respond to trafficking cases.
Utilizing Technology and Data Analysis:
- Develop advanced data analytics tools and artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze large datasets, identify trafficking trends, and predict potential hotspots.
- Explore the use of blockchain technology to enhance transparency in supply chains and prevent forced labor in industries susceptible to trafficking.
International Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange:
- Facilitate international collaboration platforms to share innovative approaches, best practices, and success stories in combating human trafficking.
- Foster partnerships between countries, NGOs, academia, and the private sector to jointly develop and implement innovative solutions.
Victim Support and Rehabilitation:
- Strengthen victim support mechanisms, including safe shelters, counseling services, and access to healthcare and legal aid.
- Promote comprehensive rehabilitation programs to facilitate the recovery and reintegration of trafficking survivors into society.
Public Awareness and Prevention:
- Conduct widespread awareness campaigns to educate communities about the dangers of human trafficking and how to recognize and report potential cases.
- Implement prevention programs targeting vulnerable groups, such as at-risk children, women, and migrant workers.
Strengthening Cross-Border Cooperation:
- Enhance collaboration with neighboring countries and international partners to combat transnational trafficking networks.
- Improve information sharing, joint investigations, and coordinated efforts in the rescue, repatriation, and reintegration of victims.
Source: The Hindu