Author: Isha Dixit, Student at Uttaranchal University
Trafficking is historically associated with human exploitation, which includes the selling and purchase of human people as commodities, considering people as objects that may be purchased and sold. Child trafficking occurs when children are taken from the protection of their families and mistreated by taking undue advantage of their vulnerabilities. They are frequently lured, misled, or coerced to leave their homes, and then treat them as objects by either selling them to who so ever wishes to buy them or force them into labor or even worse use them for prostitution. Even though men, women, and children are all at threat of human trafficking but children are particularly the most vulnerable of all of them. The practice of recruiting, transferring, transporting, harboring, or receiving a person under the age of 18 for exploitation is commonly referred to as child trafficking. Children may be compelled to work in conditions such as domestic labor, slavery, sexual exploitation, prostitution, and drug couriering, among other things. These children’s human rights are being violated. Although studies about the fundamental reasons for child trafficking have been minimal, analysis suggests that poverty, humanitarian crises, and a lack of education are major reasons that lead towards child abducting and child trafficking. The Indian constitution expressly outlaws human trafficking and forced labor, and both acts are punished under Article 23(1) of the Indian Constitution.
India holds a high rank among the list of countries where child trafficking is highly practiced despite being illegal and punishable. The number of purposes for which child trafficking is pertinent is begging bonded labor and sexual exploitation. The rate of child trafficking in India has grown over the previous decade. It is one of the most profitable illegal businesses, and it is carried out by expertise criminals. It leads to physical and emotional exploitation of the victims leading them to live an unhealthy and unstable life. The rate at which it is increasing is becoming a threat to the nation and the world at large. Since all the data which is used for tracking down these criminals are very difficult to collect and investigate, these crimes are slowly converting into a multimillion-dollar scam. According to the most recent estimates, 1.2 million children are trafficked globally each year and child prostitution has the greatest supply of trafficked minors. India is a primary source for varied categories of trafficking, including commercial sexual exploitation, begging, and forced labor. When children do not have a safe upbringing or financial stability, or where options for them are restricted, trafficking thrives. The number of trafficking is especially high in places with little work opportunities, where children have little education and occupational skills, and where children survive without their parents or their parents have died.
SIGNS OF CHILD TRAFFICKING
Knowing the signs of trafficking can help give children a voice to revolt and stand against it. Sometimes it is hard for a child to make out that what is happening to him is illegal as well as immoral. Moreover, they might be afraid to bring up anything they have suffered. Although it is difficult to determine whether a child has been abducted and trafficked, we can figure out the same by observing certain unusual and unexpected behavior such as:
They might be devoting most of their time doing household activities and scarcely leaving their residence to play or do some other activity or they might have no parents or family to look after them. They might survive in low-level accommodation and if asked about they aren’t very sure to which country or nationality they belong; Moreover, they are always reluctant to share any personal information. These children are never registered in any school or have any family doctors. These children might be seen in inappropriate places such as brothels or factories.
EFFECTS OF CHILD TRAFFICKING
Child Trafficking leaves behind both short-term and long-term effects on young minds and it can have an everlasting impact on these children.
- Small kids that have been kidnapped and devoid of their real houses and family are unable to understand that they have been exploited and abused.
- It is filled in their premature minds that they have a relationship with their abuser and do not know that they are being used.
- They might even start self-loathing, for being abused and look at themselves as a culprit rather than a victim.
- They think they have violated some law and now they will have to bear the consequences.
- They are burdened under guilt and are ashamed to tell anybody about the abuses they have gone through.
- These kids are being held as a prisoner and made to strive in miserable conditions thereby causing them physical problems and mental agony.
- They start feeling a sense of loneliness, dissertation, and alienation as they have been separated from their families, friends, communities, and cultures.
- Most of the time, they will not have had access to education or the opportunity to develop socially and emotionally.
- Children who are exploited for domestic slavery or forced labor may sustain physical injuries, develop emotional health issues, and be denied access to school.
- Child victims of sexual exploitation are at significant risk of protracted sexual abuse, physical damage, sexually transmitted diseases, and, in the case of girls, numerous pregnancies.
CHILD TRAFFICKING FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION – CRIMINAL OFFENCE
Child sex trafficking is the trafficking of children for commercial sexual acts. Traffickers often make young children their targets, especially those who are not financially and emotionally very strong. The children with weaker backgrounds are more sensitive to susceptibilities. They frequently entice youngsters with a false feeling of trust and then force them into prostitution, emotionally, physically, and mentally abusing them.
Traffickers transfer children over international borders to be sexually exploited in another country. Technological advancements have also made it easier for traffickers to help in the commercial sexual exploitation of youngsters. There are now a variety of websites where you may advertise or plan sexual encounters with minors.
This phrase refers to illegal acts that degrade, worsen, and endanger the physical and mental integrity of minors, including sexual assault by an adult and payment in cash or kind to a kid or third person(s). Aside from sexual crimes against women, there are other types of commercial sexual exploitation of minors which are as follows:
(a) Child prostitution,
(b) Internet child pornography,
(c) Trafficking for sexual exploitation
(d) Sexual exploitation in incestuous relationships
(e) Child sex tourism, as well as
(f) Child marriages
Prostitution legislation is different in every country. Sex labor is allowed in certain nations but prohibited in others. Sex trafficking is not the same as prostitution. The former is done under duress, whereas the latter is a person’s choice of work. Sex trafficking is illegal in all nations, yet it is growing unmanageably.
LEGAL AND POLICY FRAMEWORK TO PUT AN END TO CHILD TRAFFICKING
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) established acknowledged principles and guidelines on human rights and human trafficking in effort to achieve practical, rights-based policy guidance on the prevention of trafficking and the protection of trafficked victims. Its goal is to make it easier to include a human rights perspective into anti-trafficking legislation, strategies, and interventions at the national, regional, and international levels. The Guidelines and their implementation are part of a larger framework that includes the Guidelines to Prohibit, Restrict, and Condemn Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
- The above-mentioned international treaties, conventions, and accords also give a broad policy guideline to the various States and partners in addressing the issue of child trafficking. An effective strategy to combat child trafficking should primarily address the following critical elements
- Victims must be identified and protected as soon as possible.
- Offering a secure atmosphere for them by providing social services, health care, and psychosocial assistance
- Wherever possible, we must try to reintegrate them with their family and community
ANTI – TRAFFICKING LAWS IN INDIA
Apart from the provisions of the Constitution, which is the country’s basic legislation, India has a diverse set of laws passed by the Parliament and several state legislatures to prevent child trafficking.
- The Constitution of India
The Indian constitution expressly outlaws human trafficking and forced labor, and both acts are a violation of Article 23(1) of the Indian Constitution. Article 23(1) states that “traffic in human beings and beggars, as well as other comparable types of forced labor, are forbidden, and any breach of this article shall be punished in compliance with the law.”
Article 23- Outlaw’s exploitation, prohibits trafficking in people and beggars and makes this conduct illegal.
Article 24 prohibits minors under the age of 14 from working in factories, mines, or other dangerous occupations.
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860
The India Penal Code, 1860, has many laws concerning child trafficking. For example, there are severe penalties for kidnapping, purchasing or selling a minor for prostitution, abduction (including forced marriage), illegal forced labor, importing/procuring girls, and trading a person for slavery.
Section 366A- It is a crime to induce any female below the age of eighteen to travel to such a place with the intent of forcing or enticing illegal intercourse with another person.
Importing any girl under the age of twenty-one with the aim of compelling or enticing her into unlawful sexual intercourse with another person is a criminal violation that is punished under Section 366B. Section 374 punishes anybody who unfairly compels another person to labor against his will.
- The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1976
This Act makes it illegal to recruit any minors in the specified occupations listed in Part A of the Act’s schedule. According to the Act, no kid is allowed to labour for more than three hours without a break of at least one hour.
- Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956
The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of 1956 is the primary piece of legislation in place to protect women and girls from sexual exploitation. Only the Goa Children’s Act, 2003, state legislation, defines the term “trafficking.” As a result, while the ITPA is the main enactment governing the sexual exploitation of children in the commercial sector, it does not define trafficking.
Offenses specified are:
- Keeping a brothel or permitting a brothel to be utilized on your property
- Living off the proceeds of prostitution
- attempting, obtaining, or getting a person for the purpose of prostitution
- Detaining anyone on-site for prostitution
- Prostitution in close proximity to public areas
- Seduction of a detained person
- Information Technology Act, 2000
The legislation criminalizes the transfer of any improper and lascivious content in electronic form. This statute covers the issue of pornography as well.
Section 67A- Punishes the electronic publishing or transmission of content involving sexually explicit actions.
Section 68B- Punishes the electronic publishing or transfer of content portraying youngsters in sexually explicit actions on premises.
- Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
The law applies to children who are vulnerable and hence more prone to become victims of trafficking. It safeguards minors who require care and protection. The main focus of this Act is to provide for proper care, treatment, and protection of a child’s development. Section 29 of the Act gives state governments the authority to form a child welfare council. The clause provides these committees the final says on how to resolve the cases. Section 34 empowers the state government to construct and manage children’s homes for the independent care and protection of children.
- Karnataka Devadasi (Prohibition of Dedication) Act, 1982
The devotion of any female, with or without the agreement of the dedicated individuals, to prostitution is illegal and criminal.
- Andhra Pradesh Devadasi (Prohibiting Dedication) Act, 1989
This law makes any ritual dedicated to Devadasi illegal and carries a three-year jail sentence as well as a fine.
- Goa Children’s Act, 2003
This legislation has specifically stated Trafficking. In the definition of sexual assault, it covers all forms of sexual exploitation. The establishment’s management and owner are responsible for the protection of minors or youngsters on hotel premises. There are severe rules governing children’s protection and the publication of pornographic content.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND EXPLOITATION DURING THE LOCKDOWN PERIOD IN INDIA
On March 24, 2020, the government declared a state of emergency and imposed a lockdown for India’s 1.3 billion populations. According to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy, approximately 122 million individuals in India did lose their jobs as of May 12th. Approximately 75% of them were small business owners and day laborers. And so, when families are financially insecure, children are more vulnerable.
Over the course of 11 days of India’s lockdown, 92,000 incidents of child abuse in families and communities were registered with the government helpline.
Among many of the recorded instances is one of a man who lost his job and sold his four-month-old baby to a rich family without even informing the child’s mother. So when the couple arrived to get the baby, the lady was able to save her child owing to the help of her neighbors. The father was a construction worker on a daily wage, and because he could not really take care of his family and feed them properly, he sold the infant in despair. There’s also been an upsurge in reports of forced marriages in recent months. Families marry their daughters so that they will have one less stomach to feed. There also have been examples of youngsters as young as 12 being trafficked into forced marriages.
PREVENTION OF CHILD TRAFFICKING
Several forms of intervention can be used to avoid child trafficking. It must concentrate on public awareness, as well as susceptible regions that contribute to the creation of an atmosphere essential for human trafficking.
ROLES OF PARTICULAR AGENCIES:
An obligatory high-quality education, as well as income-generating and job possibilities, should be established. Encourage and promote high-quality teacher education programs in government schools. Different nations’ preventive measures should be communicated in order to assist both countries in combating trafficking.
Society should keep a close eye on the migration of child victims of traffickers.
They should instruct and make the parents conscious of safe migration practices.
Because of its large audience, media plays an essential role. Sending the proper message to the victim to reassure them that they are not alone in this. A program that informs individuals about locations and institutions where they can seek assistance if they have been victimized.
Educate and raise awareness about the illegality and inappropriateness of human trafficking, as well as its serious consequences.
SOLUTIONS FOR CHILD TRAFFICKING
Lawmaking is critical to long-term societal development, and effective legislation may provide significant benefits. However, given the complexity of the situation, there are no easy answers in such a huge country as India. To discourage crime, a few proactive actions, as advised by the International Justice Mission, might be implemented.
Encouraging first responders like police, child welfare service members, child welfare committees, healthcare officers, and non-governmental organizations can go a long way to making sure that traffickers are noticed and survivors are adequately supported from the initial response to the rehabilitation process. Working closely with government agencies, private-sector companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can also aid in the dismantling of trafficking organizations. They can also help the government develop child protection programs, especially in vulnerable areas where children are more likely to be trafficked owing to socioeconomic situations and a lack of knowledge amongst guardians and parents.
It is highly recommended that society should be made aware of the crime of child labor to aid in the prevention of school disruption and to discourage forcing children into labor. Knowing also guarantees that the community maximizes the chances for growth, education, employment, and business, resulting in a socially and economically developed society in which children may attain their full potential – both physically and psychologically.
Trafficking groups are treacherous. They are skilled at remaining one step ahead of their opponents by employing devious tactics. To outsmart the police, many are outfitted with cutting-edge technology, such as protected channels of communication. The lockdowns due to widespread pandemics have only made their job simpler, as police officers are split between law enforcement and criminal investigation, while NGOs face a financing crisis. The fact that around 174 minor children go missing in India every day, with barely half of them ever being discovered, demonstrates that present systems are insufficient.
However, by reducing human trafficking and discouraging traffickers with harsh punishments, labor abuses will diminish, providing trafficked women and children a brighter future. In the long run, this will help a country’s social and economic development. A focused national program including all stakeholders to safeguard children from trafficking is required.
The banning of child labor is the first step in the lengthy process of preventing this horrible crime. It is also crucial to provide rescued children with education, rehabilitation, and protection to prevent a recurrence. Ranging from physical challenges, child labor victims suffer from depression and anxiety, which pushes them into toxic habits such as smoking, drinking, or drug dependency, resulting in a lifetime of low self-esteem, sadness, and relationship troubles. Panic disorder, dissociative disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, melancholy, rage, post-traumatic stress disorder, and reactive attachment disorder have all been observed in children who have grown up in similar environments.
While the globe battles with the pandemic’s immediate repercussions, the emerging problem of child trafficking has the potential to worsen poverty, health, and education, with far-reaching effects. Based on previous pandemic encounters, the consequences for children in such scenarios might be disastrous and irrevocable. Governments must address this humanitarian disaster as soon as possible.
Child trafficking is an age-old problem that frequently has negative, instant, and long-term consequences for sufferers, their families, and society as a whole. Measures to fight this social evil must be primarily managed at all levels, and all policies and practices must be actively enforced to dissuade criminals from committing such crimes in the first place. The banning of child labor is the first step in the lengthy process of preventing this horrible crime. It is also crucial to provide rescued children with education, rehabilitation, and protection to prevent a recurrence. Child trafficking is the act of recruiting, transferring, transporting, housing, or receiving a minor for the purpose of exploitation. Domestic labour, slavery, sexual exploitation, prostitution, and drug couriering are just a few examples of how children may be forced to work.