Human Sex Trafficking: The Issues And Remedies

Every year, millions of women and children are abducted and sold into forced prostitution. The profits earned by these acts are distributed among the agent and the owner. According to the 2000 United Nations trafficking protocol, “ Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of deception, of the abuse of power, or of the position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include at a minimum, the exploitation of prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. There are many ways of committing sex trafficking. The number one method is through deceit. Sex traders go into houses of young girls in villages who are a part of an economically backward family and offer them jobs in the cities. They give these girls fake promises by telling them that these jobs would increase their standard of living and it will change their lives completely. These people are also successful in convincing the girl’s family members to leave the girl with him. The second way sex trafficking takes place is through the sale of family members. In families which are extremely poor, the girl child is considered as a liability. The slave traders find out houses that are going through extreme economic conditions and offer the parents a sum of money (ranging from 20 to 30 dollars) for their girl child. While in most of the cases, the girl is sold out of desperation of money, in some cases, the girl is sold out of greed. Abduction is also a means of sex trafficking, but it is not as frequent as the media portrays it to be. An incredible case of abduction was of a young girl named Ines who lived in Albania. She was abducted in broad daylight and was exploited in numerous brothels and sex clubs in West European countries from 1995 to 2003. Another type of sex trafficking and probably the most frequent type is by the “lover boys” who are agents that offer young girls love and take them to a different place where he claims they can have a better life together and exploit these girls once they reach this “dream place”.

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The sex slaves are mentally as well as physically tortured. They are intoxicated by opiates mixed in their food which causes them to sleep for long periods of time and are transported to different places may it be inside the country or outside. The border soldiers are bribed and fake passports are created to transport these girls into foreign countries. The recent trend followed in the transportation of sex slaves is a two-fold method. First, the girls are transported from rural areas to urban areas. From there, some selected slaves are transported to international countries. The main reason of doing this is to break the spirit of the slaves. The more their spirit is broken the more submissive they will be. which will fetch the slave traders more money in the international market. The girls are humiliated, raped and tortured to a whole new level so that they are broken from inside and do not even think to escape. In the most brutal instances, the girls who try to escape have their throat slit in front of the other girls which portrays to the girls their condition if they even think to escape from the brothel. 

Human sex trafficking is an industry that generates billions of dollars in profits each year. It is a system of well-connected networks which is run by highly influential and dangerous people. Sex slavery takes part in three parts. The first is the overall size and growth of the industry. This includes the initial part where the trust of the girl or the girl’s parents is won over and the girl is taken to a new place with the promise of getting a new job and increasing her standard of living. The second phase is the sale of these girls to either brothel owners or other sex traders. This phase includes the torture and mental preparation of the victim to perform sexual acts. The third phase includes the sexual exploitation of these girls, where they are sold to customers and earns profits. Although this is such a huge industry, not much information is available on it. It is a highly secretive network and every move in this industry is done in high confidentiality and away from the normal world. The Un estimates that between 2012-14 there were 63251 victims of human trafficking detected in 106 different countries and territories. Using global law enforcement data, the US (DOS 2017) estimates that in 2016, 66520 human trafficking victims were identified, 14897 traffickers were prosecuted and 9071 traffickers were convicted. Eistes and Weiner estimated that in the United States between 1,00,000 and 3,00,000 children were estimated to be at risk of commercial sexual exploitation each year.  Human Trafficking is predominant in Asian countries like Pakistan, India, China and Bangladesh and also in many states of the US. Although statistically it is predominant in these areas, in reality human trafficking is present all over the world.

Considering that human rights is such an immoral and inhuman industry, we must now focus on the remedies to fight this problem. The government and the police have a very important role in rescuing the victims of human trafficking. It is very sad to hear that in many of the countries, the police are in an agreement with sex traders and knowing fully about this illegal act, they allow it to happen in return of monetary gains. In many sex trafficking brothels of Mumbai, the Police are well aware of what is going on in each brothel, yet they refrain from taking any action against the same. Hence, the first and foremost requirement to fight sex trafficking is that the police must play an active part and stop the sex traders from carrying on their business. The Police and the government must follow a proper path of investigation. The first step of this path is mapping the terrain. The police must look into the history of the cases and must always be vigilant in the blacklisted areas. A statistical approach is very necessary to combat such a high network crime. The second step is finding the victims. This step is the ‘search and rescue step’. This is the step where the brothel is raided. For this usually, a bogus customer is used. This bogus customer enters the brothels and demands for girls on an agreed payment. On acquiring the girl and after the payment of money, both the bogus customer and the girl enter the room where the decoy customer intimates the police and the panch who are waiting outside. Both the Police and the panch on receiving the signal raid the brothel. They rescue the girls and arrest the sex traders. One of the cases was such that in a brothel in Mustafa Chawl Mumbai, ten girls were hidden behind a wall inside an extremely small room without light or ventilation. The Police had just reached there on time failing to which could have also resulted in the death of those girls. 

The next step is the criminal investigation and court proceedings. It is a very sad fact that the conviction rate of human traffickers is less than 7% of the total human traffickers which is disproportionately low. After rescuing the victims, the government must transport them to shelter homes. Although the government is trying to build new shelter homes for trafficked victims yet the current condition of these shelter homes pitiable. The last step of the rescue is returning the girls back to their homes. For this, a study must be conducted about their home environment. In certain cases, if the parents themselves have trafficked the girl, there is a chance of re-trafficking. Also, some people in rural areas are reluctant to accept these girls back based on societal norms. All this must be considered and only then a decision must be taken about returning the girl to her family.

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Knowing how grave an issue of human trafficking is, it is necessary to know the remedies to fight this crime. The first and foremost remedy is to create awareness. The people must be made known how serious this issue is. The people must know the relating laws in case they find any unnatural behaviour, they know its legal standing. All the people must be made known of the punishments for committing sex trafficking, only this will create a deterrence in the society.  The second remedy is to provide for financial support. Although the government is doing a lot of work for trafficking yet they are not always able to decode this highly complicated and networked crime. Hence, many NGO’s are formed for fighting this crime. The main issues of the NGOs are that they lack financial support. This is a great drawback for them. Hence the people as well as the government must provide financial assistance for these organisations. The third remedy is to be vigilant. This is a part that each individual must collectively perform. Every person must be alert and vigilant of the acts that are happening in each one’s neighbourhood. In many cases, after the brothels were raided, when the people of the neighbourhood were asked why did they not report the crime, most of them said that they had no idea that such businesses were taking place in their locality. Since this is a highly calculative and confidential crime, the people and the police must always be on high alert in order to catch the offenders. 

This Article is authored by –

Jotham Cherian, Student of BBA LL.B (Hons.), Christ University, Bangalore

Law Corner

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