Millennium Post

Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery

Displaying the most violent form of abuse to human dignity, trafficking of children, women and impoverished labourers has plagued our modern society, writes Abhay Singh.

17 -year old Aaliyah* was sold by her boyfriend to a man who was working in a brick kiln in Pinagwa. Jaya*, 15, was sold by her relatives and Farha* was sold in Rajasthan. These names are not from any fancy list; these are the innocent girls who survived the wretched modern-day face of slavery: Human Trafficking.

Shafiq R Khan, the face behind the rescue of all these girls told Millennium Post that the victims were sold off by trusted people, only for a few thousand rupees. One of the girls had eventually lost her memory due to the assault and mental agony. The only thing she recalls is that she lived with her family somewhere in Siliguri or Kolkata. "We also found one instance in which the girl was sold by her relatives," said Khan, who also runs the NGO, Empower People.
"They would give me the food which they threw in the trash," were the words of a minor who was rescued by the Gurugram Police along with NGO Shakti Vahini. The girl hails from the Gumla area of Jharkhand. She was beaten up brutally by her employer, deprived of food and locked in a cupboard. "They beat me brutally, banged my head against the wall," the girl told her rescuer after she was recovered.
There are several horrific stories about trafficking. Those rescued continue to be haunted by the trauma. This story will present an account of how human traffickers operate to ruin innocent lives.
Jharkhand tribal girls targetted
In rural Jharkhand, the human traffickers target tribal girls and traffick them to the national capital. Aradhana Singh, a retired Jharkhand Police officer who has rescued more than 200 girls singlehandedly during her police career, told Millennium Post that, during the investigation it was found that tribal girls were trafficked to different states on the pretext of attending fairs or even purchasing new clothes. "Traffickers used the girls' poverty as a weapon and told the family that their daughter will be placed in a good house with enviable pay. But after the girl went to the other states, not even a single penny came to the parents, the person who took the girl never returned back and the family was deprived of contact with their child," said Singh.
Areas of Jharkhand like Simdega, Khunti, Gumla, Latehar, Chaibasa are the most prone to human trafficking. Manoj Kumar Rai of the Child Welfare Committee in Khunti district claimed that they have also located the trend of fake marriages in Jharkhand. "Basically, the traffickers first conducted a fake marriage with the girl in her village to gain the trust of the girl and her family. The trafficker then took her to other states, where she was handed over to another trafficker. The person who had married the girl initially then fled the spot in search of other girls," said Rai.
In another modus operandi, traffickers are seen targetting those tribal girls who only spoke their local language. The reason, investigators have found that, by chance the trafficked girl managed to escape her captor, she would be unable to seek help from the locals as they would not be able to understand her language. Explaining another modus operandi used by traffickers to take away young tribal girls from Jharkhand, Rai said, "The traffickers first target the girl who will be trafficked. Then they lure another child in the village, who is known to the girl and is economically very weak. The traffickers give the child some money and instruct him to bring the girl to the bus-stop or railway station." The minor, who is unaware of the trafficking, brings the girl to the spot from where she is trafficked.
West Bengal against trafficking
In the present scenario, the West Bengal government and the police have worked relentlessly to fight trafficking. The effort yielded fruits and several girls were rescued, several trafficking networks were busted with the arrest of several human traffickers.
In the rural areas of West Bengal, human traffickers lure girls on the pretext of marriage, love or the good life. Rishikant from NGO Shakti Vahini says, the traffickers have changed their modus operandi with time. "The trafficker first sets the target (girl) and then gathers all her details. He then roams around the area where the girl visits regularly. After trapping the girl on the pretext of love, the accused brainwashes the girl's mind by creating fake dreams, assuring marriage and a comfrtable life in the metropolitan cities. Abject poverty compels the girl to trust the trafficker who then trafficks her to other cities and flees for his next target," said Rishikant.
The West Bengal Police and an NGO, Goranbose Gram Bikash Kendra (GGBK), together took the initiative to rehabilitate more than 50 survivors of various forms of trafficking, who were victims of commercial sexual exploitation of children and are now adults. After their rescue from different parts of India, they are back to their villages, mostly in the Sundarbans and South 24 Parganas. From victims to survivors and survivors to thrivers, they are now leaders in running micro-businesses successfully, such as stationery shops, grocery shops, etc.
Chandrasekhar Bardhan, a senior police official of South 24 Parganas stated that they started Swayamsiddha, an initiative in which they connected with poor villagers and their families, making them aware about human trafficking.
A pre-planned net
The network of human trafficking works in an intelligent and organised manner. The main kingpin of the gang would hire a number of persons including women. While trafficking, these people are interchanged from the point of origin to the point of destination, so that no one has an inkling of the entire network. Sources claimed that sometimes, for trafficking, trains are also used. The traffickers often used small stations for trafficking. Before reaching the final destination, they would deboard the train with the children and avail taxis to prevent the police from tracking them.
Sources claimed that Delhi has been the transit point as well as the destination. Fake placement agencies play a major role in human trafficking, as the people who run these agencies are well-versed in regional languages. "They meet the families of girls in tribal areas and talk to them in the local language to gain the trust of the family, they then take the child to the capital and sell them," said an NGO official.
Police sources told Millennium Post that the Central Delhi Police had begun the operation to crack these miscreants and they have asked all the Station House Officers (SHOs) and the concerned Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) to check illegal placement agencies flourishing in their areas and take quick action against them.
Social stigma
Survivors of trafficking, after being rescued and returning to their families, suffer from some primary challenges – primarily, poverty and lack of gainful occupation. In most cases, the families are either dysfunctional (no dependable earning member in the family, lack of employment of parent/s, broken marriages) or they are apathetic towards the victim and look for the earliest opportunities to marry her off.
According to NGO GGBK, while victims turn hostile towards prosecution owing to fear, intimidation, discouragement and lack of support; the due punishment of traffickers go a long way in ensuring restorative justice for her, which facilitates her healing from the trauma. "We, therefore, ensure her participation in the prosecution, aiding and supporting her through the process, building her motivation and protecting her from threats and intimidation by traffickers," said an NGO official.
NCPCR guidelines
An official from National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) stated that the girls from different states are been trafficked to Delhi where they are forced to become labourers or prostitutes. Taking cognizance of the situation, the child rights body will list post-rescue guidelines for trafficked child survivors rescued from Delhi and NCR.
The guidelines instruct that the State Bhawan should establish a resource directory consisting of all helpline numbers of child protection units and connected NGOs. "We held a meeting with the Resident Commissioner of different State Bhawans in Delhi and asked them to facilitate accommodation for the police and survivors of the trafficked child's family," said Yashwant Jain, member NCPCR.
Bride trafficking
According to the NGO Empower People, marriage matching or bride trade is not different from sex trafficking because it treats women as commodities to be sold to some unknown men. Their purpose is not to find a lifetime of love but to arrange for a wife to be treated as a sex object, domestic worker and all-around slave. "We are conducting an 8000 km march against bride trafficking and forced early marriage. We will cover 10 states and the route of the march will follow the route used by traffickers for trafficking girls – not only from the Indian states but also from Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh," said Shafiq R Khan from the NGO.
Horror count
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data regarding human trafficking in Jharkhand claimed that in the year 2016, more than 100 cases were reported in which over 150 persons were trafficked and 45 were rescued. Most of them were forced into labour or domestic servitude. In the last three years, more than 300 cases of human trafficking were reported in the national capital, data from the Delhi Police has revealed. Law enforcement officials claimed that they have tightened the noose on traffickers, rescuing over 300 girls as a result.
*Names changed to maintain privacy.

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