Issue of child trafficking in India

Ques. Critically analyse the issue of child trafficking in India, what are its consequences. Describe the steps taken by the government.

Child trafficking, according to UNICEF is defined as “any person under 18 who is recruited, transported, transferred, harboured or received for the purpose of exploitation, either, within or outside a country.

India is a prime area for child trafficking for various reasons such as labour, begging, and sexual exploitation. NGOs estimate this problem affects 20 to 65 million Indians. There are many contributing factors to child trafficking, which include economic deprivation, conditions, lack of employment opportunities, social status, and political uprisings. Many of the families in India are unable to afford the basic necessities of life, which forces the parents to sell their children off to gangs, and the gangs to exploit them. Having approximately half of those in India living under the poverty line,this results in desperate measures being taken to make any money they can.

Child trafficking although illegal under Indian law, remains a significant problem:

  • A significant portion of children are subjected to forced labour as factory workers, domestic servants, beggars, and agriculture workers, and have been used as armed combatants by some terrorist and insurgent groups.
  • Women and girls are trafficked within the country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage especially in those areas where the sex ratio is highly skewed in favour of men.

Consequences of child trafficking:

  • Human trafficking in India results in children suffering from both mental and physical issues. Mental issue includes disorders such as PTSD, depression and anxiety.
  • The lack of control women have in trafficking increases the risk of a victims likeness to suffer from mental disorders.
  • Women who are forced into trafficking are at a higher risk for HIV, TB, and other STD’s.
  • Deprived of their educational rights and suffers from ill health.

Steps taken by the government:

  • The Government of India penalises trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation through the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA), comprising penalty ranging from seven years’ to life imprisonment.
  • Indian authorities also use Sections 366(A) and 372 of the Indian Penal Code, prohibiting kidnapping and selling minors into prostitution respectively, to arrest traffickers. Penalties under these provisions are a maximum of ten years’ imprisonment and a fine.
  • India also prohibits bonded and forced labour through the Bonded Labor Abolition Act, the Child Labor Act, and the Juvenile Justice Act.

In 2014 the Government of India launched a web-portal on Anti Human Trafficking Portal. The web portal is expected to serve as a vital IT tool for sharing of information across all stakeholders, States/UTs and civil society organizations for effective implementation of Anti Human Trafficking measures.

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