People are far more likely to become victims of human trafficking when they are at their most vulnerable. This is why instances of the crime generally skyrocket during times of mass upheaval — a large hurricane, refugee crisis or armed conflict can all be catalysts for instances of trafficking. Children in foster care, for example, are more susceptible to becoming victims of human trafficking (though it can and has happened to people from every walk of life).
Another such example has made itself apparent in India, as police have reported that 42 girls were raped in a state-sponsored shelter for women in Muzaffarpur, India. The girls were said to have been either drugged or beaten before the abuse. The girls’ ages are not clear, though it appears that they are minors.
One of these girls was allegedly killed in the process, and the courts have ordered her body (which was buried on the shelter grounds) be exhumed. The police sent sniffer dogs, and crews dug where they could, but still have not found a body. Ten people are in police custody under suspicion of their involvement.
So far, 29 of the girls have been confirmed to have been raped, though it is unclear how exactly these tests are conducted and what their standards are for confirming rape.
Muzaffarpur is located in Bihar, a state in eastern India.
It’s not clear if these girls were taken advantage of simply at the cruel and twisted amusement of their captors, or if they were victims of trafficking — used in some sort of business sense. Either way, UNICEF reported in 2014 that 42% of girls are sexually abused by the time they reach the age of 19 in India. This includes the marriage of children to men who are in their 70s, abductions and assaults of girls and women on the street, and of course instances like in this shelter — the list goes on.
India’s assault and rape epidemic has caught the world’s attention, and the country has seen many mass protests in an effort to bring awareness and hopefully spur change in the system to combat these problems.
Featured image: A homeless girl peeps from behind a cloth used to cover a makeshift shelter put up on a roadside on a foggy morning in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. Delhi and other parts of northwest India witnessed the first dense fog of the season that threw air and rail traffic out of gear, more than a week before it was expected, according to local news reports. | AP Photo/Altaf Qadri