Women in India face a lot of issues, be it safety or gender discrimination. Among many such issues, ‘Human trafficking’ is a major concern. Reports suggests, human trafficking in India has affected around 20 to 65 million people, especially females, who are the major victims of human trafficking in the country. The purpose of trafficking is generally sexual exploitation and forced marriage.
Although human trafficking is illegal under the Indian law, yet it still remains as a significant problem. People are frequently illegally trafficked within India for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and forced, bonded labour.
As per a report of Times of India, trafficking of women and girls is way more heinous than being a drug peddler. One of the major points where the lawmakers lack, is that they have not prescribed stringent punishments for human trafficking.
According to Justice S.K Panigrahi “Unfortunately despite the protection afforded by the constitution the stringent laws and a large number of treaties and conventions commercial sexual exploitation with its concomitant human rights abuse is expanding multi-fold. The human rights discourse is profoundly silent on this grave issue.” He also added “Such exploitations are now not confined to conventional brothels but is spreading everywhere residential areas, clubs, and hotels, etc. One cannot be oblivious of the fact that the ‘flesh trade’ today is evolving into a varied form of advent new technologies. This makes these laws even more challenging.”
During the pandemic, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) research brief report launched on 14 May 2020, stated that COVID-19 measures may likely lead to an increase in cross-border trafficking and human smuggling. One of the strongest reasons behind this is the global economic crisis due to the lockdown which hampers of employment for a large segment of people in many countries which may increase the cases of trafficking. The report presented by UNODC particularly links, “stringent mobility regulations and the likelihood of an asymmetric recovery of different countries from the upcoming global economic crisis with a likely rise in human trafficking rates.”
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, a total of 8,132 cases of human trafficking were reported in the year 2016 from across the country. Out of 8,132 cases of human trafficking recorded in the country, 3,579 cases (around 44%) were from West Bengal alone.