Skip to main content

Victim of human trafficking: Hundreds of children brought from Rajasthan to work in cotton fields of North Gujarat

By Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
In 2010, the UN General Assembly adopted the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, urging Governments worldwide to take coordinated and consistent measures to defeat this scourge. The Plan calls for integrating the fight against human trafficking into the UN’s broader programmes in order to boost development and strengthen security worldwide. Three years later in 2013, the   General Assembly held a high-level meeting to appraise the Global Plan of Action and through a resolution designated July 30th as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The resolution declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
The world body states, “human trafficking is a crime that exploits women, children and men for numerous purposes including forced labour and sex. The International Labour Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally. This estimate also includes victims of human trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation. While it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that currently, there are millions of trafficking in persons victims in the world. Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.”
The fact is that human trafficking has reached alarming levels all over the world. Whilst there is certainly a heightened awareness of this painful reality and that much more is being to combat this scourge, the bitter truth is that nothing seems to be enough.
In March 2017 India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development told Parliament that there almost 20,000 women and children who were victims of human trafficking in the country in 2016.This number is a 25% rise from the previous year. This rise the officials claim is perhaps due to the fact that there are more people who are not only aware of this crime but are also reporting it. However, there are many who are convinced that the actual victims of human trafficking in India could reach mind-boggling numbers. Many do not report the crime either because they are unaware of the law, are afraid of the human traffickers or of the law enforcement officials or are just too poor to have any other option in life.
India is today regarded as the South Asian hub for human trafficking. Thousands from rural India are lured daily by human traffickers to the big towns and cities with the promise of good jobs, more money etc. Most of the victims are women and children who are hopelessly trapped in bonded labour, prostitution rings and other nefarious activities. Some of them end up as domestic workers or have to sweat it out for long hours in small industrial units without the necessary safeguards and with unjust wages.
Hundreds of children are brought from neighbouring Rajasthan to work in the cotton fields of North Gujarat. In 2016 Rajasthan recorded the second highest number of trafficked children in the country. Mumbai, India’s commercial capital has brothels teeming with trafficked women. West Bengal also has a very high percentage of human trafficking mainly because of the poorer bordering countries of Bangla Desh and Nepal. The National Crime Records Bureau reveals that in 2016 an almost equal number of children and women were trafficked in India. Grim facts and statistical data of this terrible reality from every part of the country is easily available; however, what is in the public and official domain is only the tip of the iceberg.
Human trafficking is a highly complex reality. One is confronted with a myriad problems when one attempts to deal with the issue; the main one being taking on the big-time players: the trafficking syndicates and gangs and other vested interests. Many of them are politicians and if not, they have powerful political connections and patronage. A few years a BJP MP of Gujarat was arrested for human trafficking; in March, a BJP woman from West Bengal was charged with running a flourishing child trafficking racket and she has also named some of the other political bosses who support her; recently in May 2017 a BJP leader of Madhya Pradesh was arrested for running an online sex racket. In this terrible game there are few who get caught; most get away!
20,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking in India in 2016, says Government of India
A recent Report of the US State Department on ‘Human Trafficking’ bluntly says, “India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Forced labor constitutes India’s largest trafficking problem; men, women, and children in debt bondage—sometimes inherited from previous generations—are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories. The majority of India’s trafficking problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata—lowest caste Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women and girls from excluded groups—are most vulnerable. Within India, some are subjected to forced labor in sectors such as construction, steel, and textile industries; wire manufacturing for underground cables; biscuit factories; pickling; floriculture; fish farms; and ship breaking. Thousands of unregulated work placement agencies reportedly lure adults and children under false promises of employment for sex trafficking or forced labor, including domestic servitude”.
This problem however, is not confined to India alone. War and conflict in several parts of the world has resulted that many people (particularly children and women) who flee war and persecution, often fall prey to unscrupulous human traffickers and/or smugglers. From Syria to Myanmar; from Congo to Colombia; from Afghanistan to Sudan ,the plight of migrant children labouring long hours in sweatshops; toiling in fields and other hazardous industries; begging on streets (supervised by syndicates) either in their own countries or in the ‘host’ countries is just despicable. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) states that, “Over half of the world’s refugees are children. Many will spend their entire childhoods away from home, sometimes separated from their families. They may have witnessed or experienced violent acts and, in exile, are at risk of abuse, neglect, violence, exploitation, trafficking or military recruitment”.
The ISIS has captured an estimated 3.000 Yazidi women and use them as sex slaves. Several other refugee and migrant women virtually have no choice but to allow themselves to be sexually exploited since they are in the clutches of powerful traffickers.
The Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, has certainly been making efforts to address the endemic issues of this problem. Real change can come about only if world leaders and Governments have a committed political will to stop human trafficking. Pope Francis is one leader who has shown undeniable courage to keep the issue on the radar and emphasizing the importance of it being dealt with at different levels. He has been very vocal in his stand against human trafficking referring to it as “a crime against humanity” “a form of slavery”, “a grave violation of human rights” and “an atrocious scourge”. He has also said that there is also “evidence which brings one to doubt the real commitment of some important players.” This is plain- speak from the Pope who is certainly vexed about the problem and wants an immediate and urgent halt to it!
As we observe yet another day devoted to a fight against human trafficking, we need to pledge that we will show the courage and commitment to eliminate this crime against humanity, from the face of the earth!
---
*Indian human rights activist, currently based in Lebanon, engaged with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the Middle East on advocacy and   communications

Comments

Prasad Chacko said…
This article again reminds us again that in India in general and Gujarat in particular the model of development that is being pursued since the last 3 decades are creating more and more disguised slavery, especially of women and children. Let us hope that the voices of the victims and the affected communities are amplified as a result of our protests and advocacy.

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

J&K Governor's rule: BJP's "failure" to go ahead with 44-plus strategy

By Syed Mujtaba Hussian*
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to witness cataclysm of events ever since the killing of editor-in-chief of “Rising Kashmir”, Shujaat Bukhari, followed by the BJP’s deliberated parting of ways with its coalition partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and imposition of Governor rule.

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.