Know everything about Human Trafficking in India and its Preventive Measures

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a serious and grave violation of Human rights. It is a trade of humans for forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. Millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide every year. Traffickers might use force, fraud, or coercion to lure victims and force them into labour or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, and lack of social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in a highly public setting.[i]

Elements of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking in persons has three constituent elements[ii] :

The Act (what is done)

It includes recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of the person.

The Means (how it is done)

It includes threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim.

The Purpose (why it is done)

It includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.

To ascertain whether a particular circumstance constitutes trafficking in persons consider the definition of trafficking in the trafficking in persons protocol and the constituent elements of the offence, as defined by relevant domestic legislation.

Causes of Human Trafficking in India

The cause of human trafficking in India can be explained in part by gender-based discrimination, responsible for the deaths of approximately 2,39,000 children under the age of five in India each year. Because there are far more men in India then women, bride trafficking, or the illegal sale of women for the purpose of marriage is becoming more prevalent in India. Traffickers prey on other’s weakness, unfortunate circumstances, unfamiliarity, and inexperience. Traffickers are trained to identify vulnerability and use expert manipulation tactics to persuade and control their victims.[iii]

Individuals living in difficult conditions can become desperate, and that desperation makes them vulnerable.  While poverty, unemployment, displacement, lack of knowledge, experience, broken families and cultural experiences do not cause human trafficking, they do create a state of vulnerability and ideal opportunities for traffickers to strike.

Consequences of Human Trafficking

The victims are abused and exploited in certain conditions which may result in the short-term and long-term minor and severe psychological and physical attacks, diseases especially sexually transmitted diseases or HIV viruses. The direct consequences of Human Trafficking are aggression, depression, disorientation, alienation, and difficulties in concentrating. Many studies have shown that injuries acquired during the process of trafficking can last for a lifelong leaving trauma and this mainly occurs when the victim is not given proper care and counsel. The psychological trauma does not allow the victim to recover from the consequences[iv].

Measures to Curb Human Trafficking

There are various measures we can take to curb Human Trafficking. First and very simple step is fostering the spread of education and awareness among parents and communities. Take steps to prevent Human Trafficking in their supply chains and publish the information for consumer awareness. By avoiding products and companies that facilitate Human Trafficking such as avoid bidis and cigarettes which are prepared by small child labourers in the harmful dangerous factories. By increasing or providing employment opportunities especially to those weaker and backward sections of the society so that they don’t get involved in these heinous crimes. Supporting the NGOs. Implementing strict laws to prevent trafficking. Encouraging businesses to not use child labour[v].

Where is Human Trafficking most common?

Pakistan, Thailand, China, India, and Bangladesh are in the top ten countries with the largest number of trafficking victims around the world. India is at the top of the list with 14 million victims, China is at second with 3.2 million victims, and Pakistan is at third with 2.1 million victims.[vi]  Cambodia is additionally a travel source and an objective country for trafficking.[vii] 36% of trafficked victims in Asia are Children while 64% are adults.[viii]

According to the report,[ix] the top three states with the highest number of Human Trafficking incidents based on a number of cases reported are West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Gujarat and the top three states with the highest number of Human Trafficking incidents based on crime rates are West Bengal, Daman and Diu, and Goa.

Constitutional and Legislative provisions related to Trafficking in India

  • Human Trafficking is prohibited under Article 23(1) of the Constitution of India.
  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA)[x] is the chief legislation for the prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013[xi] has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with section 370 and 370A IPC which provides for comprehensive measures to counter the curb of human trafficking including trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude or the forced removal of organs.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POSCO) Act 2012[xii], which has come into effect from 14th November 2012 is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. It provides precise definitions for different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault and sexual harassment.
  • There are other specific legislation enacted relating to trafficking in women and children. Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, Transplantation of Human Organs Act 1994, apart from specific sections in the IPC, e.g., Section 372 and 373 deals with selling and buying of girls for the purpose of prostitution.
  • State Governments have also enacted specific legislation to deal with the issue. (e.g., The Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act 2012)

Implementation of International Conventions on Trafficking in India

UN Convention

 India has ratified the United Nations Convention[xiii] on Transnational Organised Crime (UNCTOC) which has as one of its Protocol Prevention, Suppression and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons, particularly women and children. Various actions have been taken to implement the convention as per protocol, for ex: Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 has been enacted wherein human trafficking has specifically been defined.

SAARC Convention

India has ratified the SAARC Convention[xiv] on preventing and combating trafficking in women and children for prostitution. A regional task force was constituted to implement the convention the SAARC Convention. As offered in the fifth meeting, a study tour for SAARC member countries was conducted from 18-22 November 2013 to learn from the experiences of Anti-human trafficking Units (AHTUs) established in various districts of the country. Representatives of Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Afghanistan participated in the study tour.

Bilateral Mechanism

For dealing with cross-border trafficking and to address the various issues relating to the prevention of trafficking, victim identification, and repatriation and to make the process speedy and victim-friendly between India and Bangladesh, a Task Force of India and Bangladesh was constituted. A Memorandum of Understanding[xv] (MoU) between India and Bangladesh on Bi-lateral Cooperation for the prevention of Human Trafficking in Women and Children, Rescue, Recovery, Repatriation, and Reintegration of Victims of Trafficking was signed in June 2015.


Human Trafficking risks the nobility and security of people and seriously disregards their human rights. The Constitution of India ensures the equivalent privileges of people, yet not practically implemented. To battle dealing and accordingly secure the common liberties of the weak individuals, the solid political will of the public authority is crucial in implementing their anti-trafficking mandates. Consequently, we can say any wrongdoing which can be utilized as the business one day turns into a major social malicious on account of Human Trafficking. The issue is as yet in our grasp to be addressed if solid steps are taken and strategies are made and executed carefully.


 This article is authored by Hiral Vora, Student at United School of Law, Gandhinagar.

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