“As unimaginable as it seems, slavery and bondage still persist in the early 21st century. Millions of people around the world still suffer in silence in slave-like situations of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation from which they cannot free themselves. Trafficking in persons is one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time.”
[U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2003]
Trafficking in persons is modern-day slavery, involving victims who are forced, defrauded or coerced into labour or sexual exploitation. Annually, about 600,000 to 800,000 people — mostly women and children — are trafficked across national borders which does not count millions trafficked within their own countries. Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat: it deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, poses a global health risk, and fuels the growth of organized crime.
Human trafficking has a devastating impact on individual victims, who often suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, passport theft, and even death. However, the impact of human trafficking goes beyond individual victims; it undermines the safety and security of all nations it touches.
India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced or bonded labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The large population of men, women, and children — numbering in the millions — in debt bondage face involuntary servitude in brick kilns, rice mills, zari embroidery factories and as domestic help. Internal trafficking of women and girls for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage also occurs. The Ministry of Home Affairs estimates that 90 percent of India’s sex trafficking is internal. India is also a destination for women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. In addition, boys from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are trafficked through India to the Gulf States for involuntary servitude as child camel jockeys. Reportedly, Bangladeshi women are trafficked through India for sexual exploitation in Pakistan. Moreover, Indian men and women migrate willingly to the Gulf for work as domestic servants and low-skilled labourers, but some later find themselves in situations of involuntary servitude including extended working hours, non-payment of wages, restrictions on their movement by withholding of their passports or confinement to the home, and physical or sexual abuse.
What is the reason behind such crimes of aggression does it pursue some kind of self-sadistic pleasure or are we also following some set norms? Norms of domestication, norms of showing monetary superiority? Have we become absolutely insensitive and indulgent in our luxuries and fancies that are offered by this modern lifestyle that we all aspire to lead? Have we become as ignorant as to not notice these crimes on humanity? Or are we willingly closing our eyes and pretending that they would either vanish or cease to exist just because we don’t have the power or even the time and for most of us even the will to change or to at least try to bring the change in them. Our efforts largely, are directed towards earning higher incomes, owning the latest gadgets, attending the most happening parties and being up to date with the latest gossip. And if we are the sensitive type, then we would acknowledge the suffering in this world but instead of attacking the problem, we resolve to spirituality, meditation and yoga to relieve us of the imaginary stress and pains caused by the discussions of such topics. Maybe it’s a high time we stop this selfishness and look out of the box we live in.