Human Trafficking

This article helps you to understand the meaning and impact of the unlawful act of human trafficking and its effect on humanity.

What Is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking, according to the United Nations, is the process of acquiring individuals by coercion, fraud, or deception for the purpose of exploitation for financial gain. This crime occurs all throughout the world and can affect men, women, and kids of different ages and socioeconomic situations. To deceive and coerce their victims, traffickers frequently resort to violence, dishonest employment agencies, and false claims of chances for education and employment.

Bare Act PDFs

Forms of Human Trafficking

As trafficking involves many different forms of servitude in addition to prostitution, it is crucial to discuss it.

Forced Labour

Worldwide, it is estimated that 12.3 million people are victims of forced labour (Source: International Labour Organisation, 2005, p. 10). Forced labour is defined as “any work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.”

As a result, three key components — work or service, performance under duress, and involuntariness — are offered.

It’s critical to emphasise that even if the employee initially gave agreement, if the labour becomes forced and the employer uses coercion, deception, or force to keep the employee in the position, the employee becomes a victim of human trafficking.

The definition also includes a clause on the penalties, which might include both monetary fines and the loss of privileges and rights. Threats of punishment can take a variety of forms, from the mildest, which are psychological in origin, to the most severe, such as threats of death.

Child Trafficking

According to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) in 2005, child trafficking is driven by demand, particularly in areas where there is a significant market for cheap labour and sex. It suggests that insufficient legal frameworks and a lack of educated authorities contribute to the persistence of child trafficking.

Child trafficking, a form of human trafficking, is described in Article 3(c) of the Palermo Protocol as “the act of recruitment, transit, transfer, harbouring or reception of a child for the purpose of exploitation within or outside a country.”

The lives of trafficked children are under the authority of the traffickers, who also beat, sexually assault, and otherwise abuse them. The “Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999” states that the term “worst forms” of child labour includes all forms of slavery or similar practices, trafficking through disguised adoption, recruitment in armed conflicts, prostitution, pornography, drug trafficking, and any work harmful to children.

Organ Trafficking

A rapidly growing criminal sector is that of human trafficking for the purpose of obtaining organs, particularly kidneys.

Since the sale of organs is illegal, except in circumstances where payment of reasonable expenses is incurred, such as preservation, supply, or donation of the organs for transplantation, neither the human body nor its parts can be the subject of transactions nor the beneficiaries of compensation or reward. (Source: WHO, 1990; World Health Organization.)

The medical consequences of organ removal are frequently misrepresented to the victims, and surgeries are sometimes performed without additional care in secret under unsanitary conditions. Even doctors and nurses are often found to be part of such things.

Factors Causing Trafficking

These are some of the important factors that lead to human trafficking

1. Lack of Safe Migration Opportunities

Due to severe regulations, most exploited people cannot lawfully go overseas or return to their native country and end up as victims of trafficking. As a result, they search for other options and must enlist the aid of traffickers and smugglers, who in turn grab these individuals’ documentation and use it for their own personal gain. Because they are afraid of being detained by law enforcement or immigration officials, the victims are unable to even report such crimes. They are, therefore, forced to remain silent and put up with the suffering that is perpetrated upon them.

2. Poverty and Economic Factors

Poverty, lack of job opportunities, and economic instability can make individuals vulnerable to trafficking. Traffickers prey on individuals seeking better economic prospects, promising them jobs or income opportunities that turn out to be exploitative.

3. Gender Inequality

Gender inequality plays a significant role in trafficking, particularly in cases of sex trafficking. Women and girls are disproportionately affected and targeted for sexual exploitation due to systemic gender discrimination, limited opportunities, and social marginalization.

4. Lack of Education

Limited access to education and illiteracy can make individuals more susceptible to trafficking. Lack of education reduces awareness about the risks of trafficking and hinders the development of critical thinking skills to identify and avoid exploitative situations.

5. Political Instability and Conflict

Trafficking often thrives in regions affected by political instability, armed conflict, or humanitarian crises. Displacement, breakdown of law and order, and weak governance create an environment conducive to trafficking operations.

The Situation of Human Trafficking in India

The Indian government is making great efforts to eradicate trafficking, yet it falls short of the bare requirements. India remained in tier 2* due to the government’s overall increased efforts compared to the last reporting period, considering the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on its capacity to combat trafficking. Their efforts included finding additional victims of trafficking, mainly those who were bonded or forced to work.

* Tier 2 pertains to the Indian government’s efforts to combat trafficking as evaluated by the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.

Existing Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) received financing from states like Maharashtra and Odisha, while Andhra Pradesh issued directives to create more AHTUs.

The Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA), which imposes a punishment ranging from seven years to life in prison, is used by the Indian government to criminalise trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. The Child Labour Act, the Bonded Labour Abolition Act, and the Juvenile Justice Act all forbid forced and bonded labour in India.

In addition, Indian authorities use section 366 and section 372 of the Indian Penal Code, which forbids kidnapping and the trafficking of minors as prostitution, respectively, to apprehend traffickers. The maximum jail sentence and punishment under these rules is ten years.

Occasionally, corrupt officials would let victims of sex trafficking travel about and engage in bond labour. They shield brothels that take advantage of victims, as well as traffickers and brothel owners, from arrest and other legal threats.


Millions of individuals around the world are affected by the complex and dangerous crime of human trafficking. It is a type of contemporary slavery that involves using helpless people for labour, sexual services, or other things.

Despite efforts to stop it, human trafficking still affects millions of people annually, making it a serious issue. The most disadvantaged segments of society, such as women, children, and migrants, are preyed upon by this multi-billion-dollar industry.

Governments, law enforcement agencies, civil society organisations, and people must work together to end human trafficking. This entails putting into place and upholding strict anti-trafficking legislation, enhancing victim assistance programmes, and tackling the underlying causes of trafficking, such as inequality and poverty.

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Kavya Srinivasan
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