India has recently approved their Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill in an effort to combat the widespread human trafficking problem throughout the country. The bill is quite broad and attempts to tackle every step of the trafficking process, as well as every facet of the problem throughout the country in one fell swoop. From forced begging to prostitution to migrant trafficking — these issues greatly contrast from one another, and organizations have begun to articulate worries that these strokes may be too broad and that they may even develop new problems for India.
The U.N. has expressed major concern over the nature of the bill. Special Rapporteur on trafficking persons, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, and Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Urmila Boola, said that, “Trafficking in persons is primarily a gross human rights violation. However, the Bill over-emphasises the criminal response and does not give due consideration to the rights and needs of victims and their effective protection and proper rehabilitation.” They were also concerned that all regular illegal immigrants, victims of human trafficking, and traffickers themselves might be conflated together under the new bill.
“We urge the Indian Parliament to revise the Bill in accordance with human rights law, including the OHCHR Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, in consultation with civil society organisations, UN agencies and other relevant partners,” they said.
“Other problematic aspects include an ‘over-broad and vague nature’ of some of the Bill’s provisions, which could lead to blanket criminalisation of activities that do not necessarily relate to trafficking,” according to the UN.
Like most countries, India’s human trafficking problem comes in all forms — sex trafficking of adults and children, labor trafficking of both locals and illegal immigrants, not to mention forced begging, debt bondage, and others.
A huge problem in India, as well as other countries where reports and studies are not so easy to conduct with these subjects, is the lack of available, accurate data. India’s National Crime Records Bureau said that there were 8,132 reported cases of trafficking in 2016, a steep rise from the 6,877 from 2015. However, it’s almost impossible to tell whether reporting methods are slowly getting better or if it’s actually on the rise — or both. 44% of all of these cases came out of West Bengal, right on the border of Bangladesh.
Information is crucial when effectively combating anything, not to mention an incredibly complex, multi-faceted problem like human trafficking. The U.S. has a relatively effective method of recording and documenting this information, and yet trafficking abounds nevertheless. Still, information is power, and in-depth reports like the State Department’s “Trafficking in Persons Report 2018,” not only give law enforcement the tools to more effectively do their jobs, but they also are indicative of the country’s willingness to put time, effort and a significant amount of resources into fighting traffickers.
Featured image: Indian children of a charitable trust Apne Aap Women Worldwide look at French Women’s Rights Minister Najat Vallaud Belkacem, not seen, during her visit to the center in New Delhi, India, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. Apne Aap works mainly with women and girl survivors of intergenerational prostitution to impart skill development and alternative livelihood training, according to a press release. “Apne Aap” translates “On One’s Own.” | AP Photo/Manish Swarup