World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
In the year 2013, the United Nations designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights”. Today, there are millions of people whose liberty, dignity and essential human rights have been stolen. They are coerced into sexual exploitation, forced labor, domestic servitude that exploits women, children and men through human trafficking which is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report in December 2016 on the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons whereby, it was found that Women and Children comprise 71% of human trafficking victims. As per the report, women and girls are trafficked for marriages and sexual slavery while men and boys are exploited for forced labour in mining sector, as porters and factory workers. The International Labour Organization estimated around 21 million victims of forced labour around the World.
According to a report in 2016 by the DNA (Daily News and Analysis), there was a whopping 250% jump in human trafficking cases in the northeastern states as compared to 2015. Out of 1,539 human trafficking cases registered in 2015, as many as 1,494 were from Assam, 20 from Meghalaya, 16 from Tripura, 6 from Nagaland and 3 from Arunachal Pradesh. The total numbers of such cases reported in these states in 2014 were 435, while it was 186 in 2013.
Lack of personal safety, isolation, emotional distress, homelessness, poverty, family dysfunction, substance abuse, lack of social support, forced marriage, bonded labour are some risk factors which are closely associated with human trafficking. Human trafficking is a multi-faceted threat. The victims end devastated, demoralized and defeated. Those that suffer physical, emotional abuse and rape may find it difficult to live normal lives again. Those that are threatened live in constant fear and end up being psychologically compromised. Children are subject to involuntary servitude as factory workers, domestic servants, beggars, agricultural workers and sometimes even sexually abused by their owners. No crime can be more deplorable than this.
Due to its clandestine nature, many of the trafficking cases go unreported. Ignorance, gullibility, and poor economic conditions have been found to be the main reasons why the vulnerable sections, particularly the children and young women are easily enticed. There have been cases of children and youths being trafficked to different states, lured with the prospect of better education, lucrative jobs and other opportunities, but ending up in commercial sexual exploitation, or working in various factories and mines under deplorable conditions, or in other vulnerable conditions.
Human trafficking is growing at an alarming rate all across India and North east is emerging as the greatest source of this trafficked human goods, comprised mostly of women and children.
No wonder Nagaland state has become the main transit point for human trafficking and this is an officially validated fact, provided by the State Police. Girls from border areas are brought to Nagaland through ‘agents,’ trafficked to other parts of the country where they are forced into prostitution and some are employed as domestic helpers in individual households.
A case of human trafficking registered at Sakhi- One Stop Centre- Nagaland is mentioned below:
On 3rd June 2017, a 17 year old named Pooja (name changed) was found missing in Dimapur. In the evening, she rang up and informed her parents that she had gone to Guwahati with her friend after which her phone remained switched off. However, Pooja’s parents approached One Stop Centre (OSC) Dimapur requesting help and assistance. Hence, OSC along with Women Police Station rescued Pooja and handed her over to her parents on 9th June 2017. After Pooja was rescued, she disclosed that she was deceived by Shuraj (name changed) and became his victim. Shuraj had promised her a job in his factory in Kolkata. OSC facilitated and assisted the Police in the recovery process of Pooja. Besides, OSC also provided psycho-social support to Pooja and her parents during an intervention process and after her rescue.
In the context of Nagaland, due to limited job opportunities, lack of educational qualification, adolescent and youth from Nagaland are easily tempted for well-paid jobs and better opportunities abroad. They have been tricked into cities with rich promises, and then ended up in flesh trade. On March 21, 2017 two girls from Nagaland who had become victims of human trafficking, were rescued by Women Police Station, Dimapur from Pune and reunited with their respective families after completion of necessary repatriation processes. Based on the victims’ statements, the traffickers targeted the victim by luring them with prospective jobs and supplied them to the source through chains of traffickers.
Putting special emphasis on the issue of human trafficking, the Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development, Government of India, Smt. Maneka Gandhi passed “The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill”, on 26th July, 2018 in the Lok Sabha, to protect and provide for the millions who have suffered silently for years. The legislation proposed the Bill to create institutional mechanism at district, state and central levels. It calls for punishment ranging from 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine not less than Rs. 1,00,000/- (The Indian Express, 27th July 2018).
On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us join hands together by taking this crime seriously, educate ourselves and help others become aware of the problem. Hesitation to report cases remains one of the major challenges in addressing the issue of violence in our society. This piece is being written to call for a joint effort in bringing an end to this disgraceful crime.
Victims of human trafficking or gender based violence can dial 181, the Women Helpline Nagaland, or report to the nearest Sakhi- One Stop Centre in Dimapur and Kohima.
(State Resource Centre for Women, Nagaland)