Context:- World Day against Trafficking in Persons was celebrated on July 30. It is also a time to reflect on India’s human trafficking crisis. According to a child rights non governmental organisation (NGO) an estimated 9,000 children have been rescued after being trafficked for labour between April 2020 and June 2021. So we can say that there are 21 children who have been trafficked every day over nearly 15 months. The Childline of WCD helpline received 44 lakh distress calls over 10 months.
Why Child trafficking:-
Owners are turning to cheap labour to recoup their losses from the novel coronavirus pandemic because of this children as young as 12 are trafficked across States to work in factories in appalling conditions.
4 children, between 12 and 16 years in November 2020, died after being trafficked for labour from Bihar to Rajasthan; some of them had injuries from beatings.
Child marriages are also rampant, there are over 10,000 cases tracked between April and August 2020.
About 391 child marriages were stopped in April to May 2021 in M.P.
while in Odisha, 726 child marriages were prevented between January-May 2021.
The factors such as coronavirus causing increased vulnerability are identifiable.
Loss of income and economic crisis
Corona Virus is causing families reduced capacity to care for children in the long term.
Loss of parental care due to death, illness or separation of parents from children which is placing children at heightened risk for violence, neglect or exploitation.
These factors are compounded with child labour and child marriage provided by law, as well as the scrutiny of schools and society.
Cyber trafficking:- The increase in Internet access in current times makes the young population a sitting duck for cyber crime.
A report from a child rights group in India noted that popular social media platforms and free messaging apps are often used to contact young people.
The trafficker or middleman lures the person to a place under the pretext of offering him employment.
Threats of violence from the trafficker, and, importantly, the absence of any identifiable authority to approach other than the police.
A recent report by the UN.O.D.C on the effects of the pandemic on trafficking echoes these findings.
This report said that traffickers are taking advantage of the loss of livelihoods and the increasing amount of time spent online to entrap victims
There is an increased demand for child sexual exploitation material online due to lockdowns.
The Bill to prevent the Human Trafficking:-
Where the system is found lacking is in the implementation of the laws.
A deep discussion is required on the provisions of the Bill, particularly with respect to bringing in the National Investigation Agency and increasing the punishment for offences which also includes the death penalty as an option in some cases.
But nowhere in the world we have examples that more stringent laws, particularly the death penalty, have any greater deterrent effect on crime.
The draft Bill also provides for AHTUs/ committees at all 3 levels i.e. the national, State and district levels.
Legislating without will to implement and monitor effectiveness is futile.
Judiciary faces a different challenge: for example, According to government data there were 140 acquittals and only 38 convictions in 2019.
So we can say that failure of investigation and the cases cannot be solved by the draft Bill’s provision
Trials can drag on for years as we know there is a huge pendency of cases in our judiciary
Proper case management must be introduced to give meaning to the “fast track” courts which are mentioned in the Bill.
Other problems include the low number of beneficiaries of monetary compensation and the lack of consistent access to psychological counselling remains a wall in realizing human rights.
Importance of rehabilitation and implementation is key.
Most victims of trafficking are from low income communities for whom the novel coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns have caused long term financial distress so we must take poverty and economic induced vulnerability at the core of the issue.
School, community awareness programme about the human traficking.