Human trafficking is modern slavery. The United Nations definition of trafficking covers “the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.” In India, trafficking is a huge issue. According to the Honorable Dr Justice Arijit Pasayat of India's Supreme Court, there is no bigger problem in India today than human trafficking. Former Indian Home Secretary, Madhukar Gupta, believed that as many as 100 million people in India are involved in trafficking.
India's largest trafficking problem appears to be forced labour: men, women, and children who are in debt are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories – hard, back-breaking work often for very long hours and in dreadful conditions. They work in order to pay off their debt, but the maths is against them: they will never earn enough to pay off the debt. Where families are in debt they may sell their children into working for the person who is owed the money. Some NGOs (non governmental organisations) estimate this problem affects tens of millions of Indians. An estimated 15 million children are in bonded labour. The vast majority are Dalits. [Read more...]
Official estimates claim there are 3 million prostitutes in India, and of these 1.2 million are children. Girls are sold to brothels, often by so-called friends or relatives. They may be enticed by empty promises of shopping trips, jobs or even marriage, or they may be drugged. Before they know it they are in captivity, forced to do things they do not want to, under threat of physical and emotional punishment. Trafficking is mainly into the brothels, but increasingly girls are being abused for internet pornography. The vast majority are Dalits. [Read more...]
The Oscar winning film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ introduced the world to the reality of children being trafficked into beggary. Children are forced to beg with most if not all of the money they are given going to their gangmaster. The deliberate maiming of children in order to gain more sympathy and therefore more money is a common practice. There are an estimated 300,000 child beggars in India, the vast majority are Dalits. [Read more...]
Some 250,000 women are involved in ritually justified prostitution, many of them enslaved unknowingly when they were still young children. Robbed of their freedom and dignity, their virginity is sold as soon as they reach puberty, and they are taken to a city brothel to be 'broken in' for a life of prostitution. Their children have no father, and as such are discriminated against. These women are in the main from three Dalit subcastes. [Read more...]
The trafficking of Dalits also takes the form of women, children and occasionally men being sold into domestic service where they can be the subject of abuse. Dalits are also trafficked for the harvesting of body parts.
Banner photo: RACHEL ROBICHAUX. Used by kind permission.