Curbing the Menace of Woman and Child Trafficking

22 Dec 2021

Curtain Hug

“To call Women the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably superior than man's superior.” These are the words of none other than the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi who always stood for women emancipation, equality and always fought against all the forms of injustice and discrimination faced by women across the nation.

Women’s freedom is always the sign of social freedom in any society. No nation across this globe can progress in all forms if it denies freedom and rights to its women. Our Indian society has always recognized the great contribution of the Indian women from the beginning of the time like Ahhilya Bai Holkar, Rani Laxmi Bai, Sarojini Naidu, Annie Beasant, Razia Sultan, etc. But severe contradiction arises when we saw a sharp inclination in the crime rates against women and children like molestation, rape, trafficking, etc. Such horrendous crimes are a blackspot for any society which could further vandalize our whole system.

Article 23 of our Indian Constitution prohibits Trafficking in human beings, beggars and other similar forms of forced labour. It is under the umbrella of our basic fundamental rights which makes it further imperative for the government to protect these rights at all costs. The expression ‘traffic in human beings’ include:
• Selling and buying of men, women and children like goods;
• Immoral traffic in women and children like goods;
• Slavery
The term ‘Begar’ means compulsory work without remuneration. It was in a peculiar Indian system in which local chieftains used to force the labourers to render services without any payment. It means compelling a person to work against his wish. Let’s hear a story to understand the concept of trafficking further in a better way.

Payal was 12 years old when she was trafficked. Her parents worked at a construction site in Bihar for meagre wages. She was trafficked to New Delhi and bought for about 20,000 as a domestic worker by a couple. Payal was not paid a single rupee. Instead, she was re-trafficked, raped, and exploited by employers and traffickers. When she was found after 4 years in a old age home in Delhi, she was crying behind the wall saying these words that “I want to kill myself, I am not pious anymore.” I believe that we don’t even possess that much audacity that we can even think ourselves in such a situation which payal faced at such a young age. This is the reality of thousands of children and women across the country.

It is not that our government lacks policies or legislative acts against such a heinous crime but the real drastic problem in the Indian system lies in the implementation and monitoring of such policies by a strong executive wing of our government. It is not that we don’t have great minds but the real thing is that we are not utilising those great minds for ideas and strategy which can extirpate this evil from our basic grassroot level. The Government of India has proposed the Trafficking in persons [ preventive, care and rehabilitation] bill, 2021. The bill aims to tackle all aspects of trafficking including the social and economic causes, punishment to traffickers and rehabilitation of survivors. But such a bill would succeed in true sense only if we have a proper system of checks and balances by efficient bureaucracies and periodic reviews by law agencies.

Child trafficking is a menace to be tackled with urgency because no nation can be called developed if the future of the nation is being sold. Our nation can develop only if we have talented minds to propel the paddles of growth and such talented minds are impossible without proper education. Our constitution makers were rightly aware of this issue and thus Article 21-A of our constitution guarantees Basic primary education to each child in the country and it is a fundamental duty of each and every parent to provide basic education to their child. Further, Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory, mine or other hazardous activities like construction work or railway. In 1996, Supreme court directed the establishment of Child Labour Rehabilitation Welfare Fund in which the offending employer should deposit a fine of 20,000 for each child employed by him. The commission for protection of child rights was enacted in 2005 in order to provide for the establishment of National commissions and State commissions for protection of child rights.

The act of trafficking greatly depends on the situation. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic which created the worst scenario for every section of the society. Schools were closed for a long time and lakhs of people lost their livelihoods. Traffickers took advantage of such poor conditions of women and children by luring them into a lucrative cycle of work somewhere else and are thereafter trafficked to a completely new territory from where their exploitation starts. The exploited person is completely new to the language, culture and demography of such a place and finds himself completely entangled by the fear and muscle power of the traffickers. Sometimes, police are also unable to track them because they see policemen as corrupt officials who will land them in the same place as before due to the wrong fearful mind games by the traffickers. In such a scenario, the trafficked person feels completely helpless and the only route for survival lies in the death trap of the traffickers. The pandemic also showed a great increase in the number of internet users which become the target of traffickers online through which they are trapped by lucrative offers, then called to a place for formal procedures and thereafter kidnapped and trafficked overnight to a completely new place. This is known as Cyber Trafficking.

Women and Child Trafficking is a crime in itself, but it also gives birth to several other crimes in a parallel manner. It creates a system which promotes other evil practices such as child marriages, prostitutions, corruption, terrorism, bonded labour and other illegitimate businesses. So, this matter must be brought into light without any further delays and parliament should also pass a strict anti-trafficking law. It is the moral right of every person in this world to prevent exploitation of any kind and the social responsibility of the leaders elected by the people in a democracy to ensure the same. We all must understand that anti-trafficking and equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building Good Governance.

-By Sanidhya Sharma