Exploiting the Vulnerable for profit: Child Trafficking in India



"Life is a gift of our creator… and it should never be for sale."

In India, child trafficking is a recognised problem. Child trafficking serves various purposes in India, including sexual exploitation, forced marriages, adoption, and harvesting organs. Moreover, there is no comprehensive statistics or data on child trafficking.


India's six largest metropolises: Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Mumbai have at least 25,000 children engaged in prostitution. In recent years, the practice of trafficking women and girls for forced marriages has become more commonplace. Female infanticide and foeticide in Punjab and Haryana have resulted in a scarcity of females, which, in turn, has fueled the demand for brides from neighbouring states. Also, circuses have been implicated in the exploitation of children - for whom they are trafficked. Indian circuses are no longer using wild animals, which has led to an increase in youngsters performing. India is home to one of the largest clandestine marketplaces for human organs in the world. Traffickers prey on impoverished families and children, enticing them to sell their organs for cash.


Consequently, India is faced with fighting a wide range of trafficking. Even if some children's work helps their families, or if adoption gives some children a better life, child trafficking is still an abhorrent violation of human rights.


Parliament and certain state legislatures have passed many laws, and there are specific provisions of the Indian Constitution - which is considered the country's fundamental legislation.

The Indian Constitution:

Article 23: Protects against exploitation, outlaws trafficking in people and beggars, and criminalises this conduct.

Article 24: Prohibits children under 14 from working in factories, mines, or other dangerous jobs.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986:

It forbids the employment of minors under a particular age and in specific vocations listed in the law. In addition, it punishes employers that hire children under 18.


Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956:

For women and girls, the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act of 1956 is the fundamental statute. While the ITPA is an essential piece of legislation in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation, it does not define human trafficking. Just one state legislation, the Goa Children's Act of 2003, defines the term "trafficking."

The offences under ITPA are as follows:

➔ A brothel's operation, or the usage of a brothel's premises

➔ Prostitution as a source of income

➔ To attempt, procure, or take a person for prostitution or exploitation

➔ Detention of someone in a prostitution-related setting

➔ Prostitution in the vicinity of a public place


Indian Penal Code:

Section 366A: Inducing any minor girl under eighteen to go to any such place with intent to force or seduce illicit intercourse with another person shall be a punishable offence.

Section 366B: Importing any girl under twenty-one years with the intent to force or seduce illicit intercourse with another person is a punishable offence.

Section 374: Punishes any person who unlawfully compels any person to labour against his will.


There are several ways to stop child trafficking. It is necessary to increase public awareness and sensitise the public and vulnerable populations, to combat child trafficking.


Roles of a State:

➔ To create an education system that is mandatory and provides opportunities for earning and finding a job.

➔ To provide teachers at government schools access to high-quality training.

➔ To communicate with various countries regarding preventative measures to form a comprehensive solution.


Roles of NGOs:

The community needs to keep a close eye on the movements of juvenile victims. There is a need to educate and inform parents about safe migration practices.


Roles of the media:

Large audiences make the media a very significant part of the equation, as:

➔ They transmit the appropriate message to the victim to ensure that they have a backup and are not alone.

➔ They may conduct public awareness campaigns to make individuals aware of where they should go for aid if they are victimised.

➔ They can educate and spread awareness among the general public that human trafficking is both unlawful and improper and has negative repercussions.


Conclusion

Despite several laws and interventions, there has been a massive increase in child trafficking in India over the past fifty years. All efforts to safeguard children have been thwarted by extreme poverty. Taking only symbolic measures without addressing the root cause will have little influence on the situation. There is no time like the present to take stock of the victims' vulnerabilities. Though lifting millions of people out of poverty is a complex undertaking, it is not the only responsibility of the governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Every community has a stake in protecting its members, and the corporate sector would benefit by increasing the human capital of its future workforce. Therefore, the protective network must expand its membership and be more inclusive in extending its protection.

The children have waited long enough.

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