|VOLUME 2|ISSUE 1|JULY 2018|ISSN: 2581-3595|​




Human Trafficking is a complex development issue. It is an economic problem as the vast majority of people seeking to escape poverty are lured into trafficking by the false promise of economic gains. Human trafficking has become a heinous trans-national crime undertaken by highly organized syndicates. Human trafficking is inherently demeaning, harmful and violates fundamental human rights to life, liberty, dignity and freedom from discrimination. Human trafficking is incompatible with the worth and dignity of human beings. Human trafficking is first and foremost a violation of human rights. In many countries, important steps have been taken to combat racism, exclusion and intolerance, and to buttress democracy and pluralism[1].

The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent of the problems of human trafficking and consider some of the most important elements of an effective anti-trafficking strategy at the domestic level. The paper attempts to highlight the challenges faced by India in this regards. Human trafficking, especially the trafficking of women and girls for forced prostitution, is a serious problem in India. Therefore, India’s model of dealing with this extensive trade in women and girls for forced prostitution provides many important insights as to how a developing country like India can adequately respond to this challenge. Some recommendations have been suggested to achieve long-term success in overcoming these problems.

KEYWORDS: Human trafficking, human rights, crime, recommendations, challenges.


Human trafficking, at its very core, is a series of human rights violations. Traffickers frequently exercise complete control over their victims through physical abuse, or seizing their travel and identification documents, withholding their wages, restricting or banning their freedom of movement, prohibiting their communication with family and friends, selling and trading them to another owner, or threatening family members. Most often, a combination of these components is used to achieve their compliance. As a result, victims can suffer both physically and psychologically[2].

Eliminating the problems of human requires both the resolve of the individual, the community, political will of the State, multi-sectoral approaches and well coordinated international efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking effectively. Almost 20,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 percent from the previous year. The Ministry of Women and Child Development told parliament that 19,223 women and children were trafficked last year against 15,448 in 2015, with the highest number of victims recorded in the eastern state of West Bengal. Police officials attributed the rise to increased public awareness of trafficking-related crimes and more police training. The 2016 data from the National Crime Records Bureau showed that almost equal numbers of women and children were trafficked. Figures showed there were 9,104 trafficked children last year — a 27 percent increase from the previous year. The number of women trafficked rose by 22 percent to 10,119 in 2016[3]. The most important facts relating to human trafficking are:

Approximately 75-80% of human trafficking is for sex. There are more human slaves in the world today than ever before in history.

There are an estimated 27 million adults and 13 million children around the world who are victims of human trafficking.

Human trafficking not only involves sex and labor, but people are also trafficked for organ harvesting.

A human trafficker can earn 20 times what he or she paid for a girl. Provided the girl was not physically brutalized to the point of ruining her beauty, the pimp could sell her again for a greater price because he had trained her and broken her spirit, which saves future buyers the hassle. A 2003 study in India found that, on average, a single sex slave earned her pimp at least 250,000 rupees a year.

Although human trafficking is often a hidden crime and accurate statistics are difficult to obtain, researchers estimate that more than 80% of trafficking victims are female. Over 50% of human trafficking victims are children.

Human trafficking is the only area of transnational crime in which women are significantly represented—as victims, as perpetrators, and as activists fighting this crime.

Severe natural disasters have left millions homeless and impoverished, which has created desperate people easily exploited by human traffickers.

After sex, the most common form of human trafficking is forced labor. Researchers argue that as the economic crisis deepens, the number of people trafficked for forced labor will increase.

Sex traffickers use a variety of ways to “condition” their victims, including subjecting them to starvation, rape, gang rape, physical abuse, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim and victim’s family, forced drug use, and shame.

Family members will often sell children and other family members into slavery; the younger the victim, the more money the trafficker receives. For example, a 10-year-old named Gita was sold into a brothel by her aunt. The now 22-year-old recalls that when she refused to work, the older girls held her down and stuck a piece of cloth in her mouth so no one would hear her scream as she was raped by a customer. She would later contract HIV.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises because it holds relatively low risk with high profit potential. Criminal organizations are increasingly attracted to human trafficking because, unlike drugs, humans can be sold repeatedly[4].


The harmful effects of trafficking in women and children include:

Health: Women and Girls risk unwanted pregnancies, maternal mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Drugs and other addictions resulting in physical and mental deterioration.

Threat to emotional well-being: Constant fear of arrests, isolation, deprivation of family life and social support systems; humiliation and abuse result in serious emotional stress and psychological consequences.

Threat to physical safety by unscrupulous agents, police, custom officials, employers and others.

Apprehension by law enforcement agents, detention, prosecution and forced deportation.

Difficulties in social integration; for those returning to their communities.

Economic slavery. Women have to pay the money, which the traffickers demand for their travel and documentation. Trafficking in persons has major economic, physical, psychological emotional and health consequences to the victims[5].


As per the definition given by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)-“Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a 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 the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.’[6]


As per official estimates, 15 children go missing every hour in India and 8 are never found. As per the data from Home Ministry, 1379 cases of human trafficking were reported from Karnataka in the period of four years, in Tamil Nadu the number is 2,244 whereas Andhra Pradesh has 2,157 cases of human trafficking.  Delhi is the hotspot for illegal trade of young girls for domestic labour, forced marriage and prostitution[7].

Human trafficking outside India, although illegal under Indian law, remains a significant problem. A significant portion of children are subjected to forced labour as factory workers, domestic servants, beggars, and agriculture workers, and have been used as armed combatants by some terrorist and insurgent groups.[8]


There are many forms of trafficking, but one consistent aspect is the abuse of the inherent vulnerability of the victims.


Victims are recruited and trafficked using deception and coercion and find themselves held in condition of slavery in a variety of jobs. Men, women, and children are engaged in agricultural, fisheries and construction work, along with domestic servitude and other labour- intensive jobs.


Women and children from vulnerable part of the society in developed countries are lured by promises by decent employment into leaving their homes and travelling to what they will consider to be the better life. Victims are often provided with false travel documents and an organized network is used to transport them to the destination country, where they find themselves forced into sexual slavery and held in inhumane conditions and constant fear. 


This has been apparent in Asia for many years and now taken hold in Africa as well as Central and South America. The phenomenon is prompted by the growth of inexpensive air travel and relatively low risk of prohibition and prosecution in these destinations for engaging in sexual relations with minors.


Trafficking in humans for the purpose of using their organs, in particular kidneys is a rapidly growing field of criminal activity. In many countries, waiting lists for transplants are very long and criminals have seized their opportunity to exploit the desperation of patients and potential donors.


Closely connected to trafficking in human beings is the issue of people smuggling in which smugglers procure for financial or material gain, the illegal entry of an individual into a country of which he is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident. In this case once the payment is completed, the relationship between the migrant and the smuggler is terminated.  This has taken as new proportions in recent months, especially in the Mediterranean regions, and it is clear that organized criminal networks are taking advantages of the humanitarian crisis for financial gain[10]


Declining sex ratios due to decades of discrimination against women in certain parts of India, especially North India, have left many men unmarried. And therefore, in recent years, a new trend has started to export wives from other states and such wives are exploited by the families who bought them. This is new form of human trafficking.



A comprehensive scheme for prevention of Trafficking and Rescue and Rehabilitation and Re-integration of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitations.


A Scheme for women in difficult circumstances.


Act defines, a child in need of care and protection to include a child “who is found vulnerable and is likely to be inducted into . . . trafficking. The Act establishes procedures for the recovery and social reintegration of such children, including the creation of The Act establishes procedures for the recovery and social reintegration of such children, including the creation of shelter homes and the provision of foster-care services. However, this scheme only applies to minors defined as persons below the age of 18 years.


Responsibility for providing compensation to trafficking victims is fragmented between the central 93 government and individual states. This is largely the result of Section 357, Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that the Central Government should be responsible for compensating victims of any crime (not limited to trafficking) who have suffered loss or injury. However, it fails to note the form or degree of such compensation.

“(1) When a Court imposes a sentence of fine or a sentence (including a sentence of death) of which fine forms a part, the Court may, when passing judgment order the whole or any part of the fine recovered to be applied . (b) in the payment to any person of compensation for any loss or injury caused by the offence, which compensation is, the opinion of the Court, recoverable by such person in a Civil Court . “


The 2016 anti-trafficking bill is only the latest (proposed) addition to the existing patchwork of Indian laws against trafficking. The bill in its current form will not achieve its objectives of preventing trafficking and providing protection and rehabilitation to trafficked victims. This is because there are at least three sets of laws applicable to the various manifestations of domestic trafficking: the generally enforceable IPC; the specialist criminal law, that is, the ITPA, which is applicable to the sex sector, and several specialist labour legislations covering bonded labour, contract labour and interstate migrant work. They all arise from different legal sources and harbour varied ideas about what constitutes ‘trafficking’ or extreme exploitation, emerging in turn from divergent political understandings of coercion and exploitation. Finally they envisage radically different regulatory mechanisms to counter exploitation. The differences in these approaches are visible in many respects. While the IPC and ITPA are carceral, laws on bonded, contract and migrant labour envisage elaborate local-level administrative and labour law mechanisms. While criminal laws target ‘bad men’ traffickers, labour laws presume that exploitation is endemic and use both penal and labour law doctrines to impose obligations for better working conditions on all intermediaries. While the older IPC provisions are rarely used, and it is too soon to assess Sections 370 and 370A, the huge enforcement gap of labour laws, despite activist judges, the NHRC and several dedicated IAS officers, is a painful reminder of the callous indifference on the part of sections of the executive and Indian society towards labour exploitation. The anti-trafficking Bill seeks to build an infrastructure around the hastily-passed Section 370. However, India needs a comprehensive and effective anti-trafficking law that consolidates not only these varied streams of anti-trafficking laws, but also the very different political visions of extreme exploitation and the best regulatory means to address them. Unfortunately, the trafficking Bill is not that piece of legislation that consolidates[12].


Technology, the saying goes, is a double-edged sword. But when it comes to human trafficking, that has yet to be proven. There is evidence that mobile phones, social media, instant messaging, and other modern forms of communication have given traffickers new tools for recruitment, coercion, and exploitation. But can technology – and apps in particular – help prevent vulnerable people from being lured and help victims?[13]

Apps have penetrated nearly every area of modern life, from the consumption of news and entertainment to the management of health and finances. The European Union’s Human Trafficking Directive encourages the use of the Internet for “research and education programs…aimed at raising awareness and reducing the risk of people, especially children, becoming victims of trafficking in human beings.” Apps seem like a natural tool for raising awareness, providing information on destination countries, and offering opportunities to report human trafficking[14].

No matter how well designed and potentially helpful these apps might be, it is important to ask whether they are effective in practice. Given the complexities of trafficking, can apps like these truly provide the assistance their users may need? For starters, there is the question of whether the information provided by anti-trafficking apps reaches those who need it most. To be sure, potential victims of trafficking are as likely as anybody to have access to the Internet or a smart phone. But will those who are at risk of exploitation be aware of the existence of an app that can provide information about where they can seek help? Would someone heading abroad for work use an app that would alert them to signs that they may be about to be trafficked?[15]

Then there is the fact that there is already a lot of information on the Internet and elsewhere about the risks of human trafficking. And yet, every day, people make the potentially risky choice of moving from their home to accept a job under questionable conditions. How likely is it that an app that does nothing to improve the material conditions in which people live (which is what drives them to take risks) will encourage potential victims to consider their options more carefully? Without addressing these conditions, can awareness-raising technologies make a difference? Finally, apps can be undermined by the coercion that often accompanies human trafficking. To be sure, one advantage of apps is that they can be quickly removed from a phone. But victims of human trafficking are often too fearful of repercussions to use the avenues of communication available to them to report the crimes being committed against them[16].

But perhaps apps can overcome such obstacles. Better marketing strategies and improved privacy protection, for example, might just help apps reach their intended targets, enabling them to avoid or even break free from the coercive control of human traffickers[17].


The approach adopted towards trafficking determines the strategies used to address the problem. Current approach for combating human trafficking falls into four categories: (a) prevention and deterrence, (b) law enforcement and prosecution of traffickers, (c) protection of trafficked persons, (d) rehabilitation and assistance in social reintegration.

India’s trafficking recovery laws and policies are piecemeal and haphazardly applied moreover, Lack of coordination among the police and government agencies.  For example, the holding facilities for rescued trafficked girls often have miserable conditions and may be worse than the brothels in which they had previously been housed. Male victims of human trafficking face a double barrier to protection because not only are they less easily identified and thus less likely to be rescued, but they are also left without any recourse after they have been rescued from their traffickers[18]. The present legal system and improvement in this can be discussed under two heads:


In effect, the anti-trafficking Bill proposes a separate criminal law infrastructure on trafficking. The district trafficking committee is the first port of call where a range of social actors, governmental and otherwise, must report a victim. It is unclear which agency undertakes the raid and rescue, but the victim is housed at the protection home, the police investigates the crime and the special public prosecutor initiates prosecution in a special court. This classic raid-rescue-rehabilitation model is grounded in a robust criminal law system with stringent penalties, reversals of burden of proof[19].

This Bill thus proposes to make the prosecution of trafficking under Section 370 meaningful. However, the Indian legal system has historically been unable to meaningfully translate the law into action. The raid-rescue-rehabilitation model built into the ITPA has similarly been a failure; protective homes under the ITPA have perversely resulted in state officials sexually abusing women and colluding with brothel-keepers and pimps. Compounding the replication of the failed model of rescue and rehabilitation is the complete lack of clarity regarding how the proposed infrastructure is to interact with existing vigilance committees under the bonded labour laws and protective homes under the ITPA. Without any financial commitments from the government, the anti-trafficking bill is an empty gesture. Worse still, India has a strong history of sex work exceptionalism; policy makers have often viewed trafficking purely through the lens of sex trafficking and sex work – whether it was the changes to the ITPA proposed in the wake of US TIP reports, or the bias in Section 370A towards users of sex trafficked victims. Several provisions of the trafficking bill highlight this continued emphasis on sex work, including the creation of offences under Sections 16 and 17 and rehabilitative measures to facilitate women’s exit from sex work[20].


From mobile phones to big data analytics, technology can help in the fight against human trafficking. Access to a phone can enable a victim to call friends, family, or a hotline for help. Data trends enable us to study the patterns of trafficking and to know where to combat it. On the other hand, technology is definitely part of the problem of trafficking, as traffickers are quickly incorporating technology trends and social media in their recruitment of victims. This is why it is crucial to use technology as part of the solution. While each incident of human trafficking differs in specifics, all have three clear steps: the acquisition step, the transportation step, and the final step of forced labor. Technology can help in each phase. With access to technology, human trafficking can be avoided in the first place. Technology could directly connect a worker with a safe job, eliminating the need for a middleman, who may exploit the worker. Think of the impact of AirBnB and Uber on the hotel and taxi industries. What if workers could locate honest labor recruiters directly with technology? The supply side of human trafficking would diminish[21].

Technology can be used to increase transparency and to disrupt the market of trafficking through uncovering traffickers’ attempts to transport victims. Forensic evidence, photographs, and identification of trafficking routes can help detect traffickers. For example, DigitalGlobe, a company that provides high-resolution images of the earth, is able to spot slave ships in the seas. Using powerful satellites, seas that have long remained lawless can now be policed. It also investigates brick kilns in India and fisheries on Lake Volta in Ghana, two major industries where child labor exists[22]

In this digital age, there is a record of anything that happens online. The rise of mobile money makes transactions and payments easier to track. Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency that allows users to transact money directly. It is completely transparent, with records of all exchanges, allowing investigation of suspicious payments. Financial data is important, because it is often where investigators discover the first signs of trafficking[23].

In the last phase of trafficking—forced labor—technology can lead to a way out. A new report from the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and PolicyTechnology and Labor Trafficking in a Network Society, addressed the role of technology as a strategy for escape. The report describes the story of a woman from the Philippines who was stranded in Malaysia and deceived by traffickers. She was thrown in prison and interrogated, but the Philippine government was able to intervene and help her because she had hidden a phone in her jail cell[24]. Unfortunately, many migrant workers do not have access to technology and are both geographically and technologically isolated. We need to trace the crime in these situations.

Partnership for Freedom issued a three-part competitive technology challenge on innovative solutions to end human trafficking. Rethink Supply Chains is the second part. The submission deadline for the Rethink Supply Chains challenge has passed, but stay tuned as finalists will be announced this month. Submissions focused on the areas of communication, improving transparency of the labor process, and creating tools to map and share information about labor conditions in supply chains. This challenge will hopefully add wonderful new initiatives to the few already mentioned above. Modern technology can amaze us everyday, with rapid innovation and the creation of things we never imagined could be possible. Like all tools, technology can be and is used for both doing bad and doing good. Using the power of technology in the fight against human trafficking will bring new, exciting, and unprecedented results[25]

[1] Dr. Hetal Pandya and Dr. Hemal Pandya, Racial Discrimination and Human Trafficking in India: Challenges Ahead, 1(6) IJH&SSci. 97( June2011).

[2] Id, p.102.

[3] Available at; http://facts.randomhistory.com/human-trafficking-facts.html (as browsed on Sept., 2017, at 11.00 p.m.).

[4] Supranote 3.

[5] Supranote 1, p.103.

[6]Available at; http://iasscore.in/national-issues/human-trafficking, (as browsed on August 30, 2017, at 11.00 p.m.),

[7] Supranote 6.

[8] Id.

[9] Supranote 6.

[10] Supranote 6.

[11] Id.

[12] Prabha Kotiswaran, India’s New Anti-Trafficking Bill is an Empty Gesture, available at:https://thewire.in/48494/indias-new-anti-trafficking-bill-is-an-empty-gesture/ (as browsed on; September 12, 2017, 12.00 a.m.).

[13] Supranote 6.

[14] Id.

[15] Supranot 6.

[16] Supranote 6.

[17] Julia Muraszkiewicz, Can apps prevent human trafficking? Available at; https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/11/can-apps-prevent-human-trafficking/ (as browsed on; September 9, 2017, 11.00 p.m.).

[18] Supranote 6.

[19] Supranote 13.

[20] Id.

[21] Technology in the fight against trafficking: Tracking criminals and helping victims, available at; http://www.nclnet.org/trafficking_tech (as browsed on ; August30, 2017, 11.00 p.m.),

[22] Id.

[23] Supranoye 24.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.