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causes of human trafficking in India
Human trafficking, defined as the illegal trade of humans most commonly for the purposes of sexual slavery and forced labor, currently claims an estimated 24.9 million victims worldwide, and the Global Slavery Index estimates that 8 million trafficking victims live within India’s borders. In 2016, there were 8,132 human trafficking cases reported in India, a 20 percent increase from 2015, and there were 23,117 people rescued from the human trafficking system.

Of the people rescued, 60 percent were children, women and girls accounted for 55 percent, 33 percent were trafficked for sexual services, and 45 percent were trafficked for forced labor. While much of the global pervasiveness of human trafficking can be explained only by extreme poverty, political instability and war, the causes of human trafficking in India are more nuanced.

Causes of Human Trafficking in India

The causes of human trafficking in India can be explained in part by gender-based discrimination, responsible for the deaths of approximately 239,000 girls under the age of five in India each year. Gender-based discrimination is a cultural norm in India, as sons are considered more useful to the family than daughters. This heavily patriarchal society leaves girls with limited access to education, leading to gender gaps in both literacy rates and financial earning potentials.

According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate was 82 percent for men and 65 percent for women, and according to the 2013 census, men were paid 25 percent more than women. As a result of gender-based discrimination, the sex ratio in India is greatly skewed.

Because there are far more men in India than young women, bride trafficking, or the illegal sale of women for the purpose of marriage, is becoming more prevalent in India. In the more rural Northern states, where the sex ratio is worse than the national average, bride trafficking has become a norm. More than 90 percent of married women in these Northern states have been sold from other states, some as many as three times, often first becoming brides as preteens. Gender-based discrimination in India has perpetuated a societal structure that strongly favors males over females to the point of self-destruction, as men are unable to find wives, thus driving demand for the human trafficking of women in India for the purpose of marriage.

Sex Trafficking

Another cause of human trafficking in India is a lack of opportunity in India’s poor communities, especially for uneducated women, to provide for their families. In 2012, only 43 percent of women in India worked regular wage or salaried positions. Victims of sex trafficking in India are predominantly young, illiterate girls from impoverished families in rural states. Although poverty is decreasing in India, 28 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line.

Poor communities are especially vulnerable to human traffickers, as they often offer better job opportunities or debt relief to lure victims. With limited opportunities to make money, offers like these are hard to decline for young women. Sex trafficking victims average 10 to 14 years of age, down from its previous average of 14 to 16, because younger girls are thought to be less likely to carry sexually-transmitted diseases.

Forced Labor

The causes of male trafficking in India is primarily tied with forced or bonded labor. Bonded labor, defined as a system of forced or partly forced labor under which a debtor accepts an advance of cash for a pledge of labor, by the debtor or any member of the debtor’s family, for the benefit of a creditor, is deeply entrenched in India’s social structure. While bonded labor was abolished in India in 1976, many industries who rely on bonded labor schemes for their workforces have turned to the human trafficking trade for workers in their spinning mills, granite quarries and brick kilns.

Like the bride and sex trafficking trade, forced labor traffickers recruit victims from poor, rural areas of India, promising lump-sum payments at the end of their contracts. Workers are meagerly compensated for their labor, and terrible working conditions provoke illnesses that lead to wage advances and loans that keep the worker in lifelong debt to their contractors.

Solutions

The Government of India has been making strides to address its human trafficking problem by heightening its border security, increasing its budget for aid to trafficking victims and drafting an anti-trafficking bill. In February 2018, the Union Cabinet passed the Trafficking in Persons Bill to be voted on by Parliament. If passed, the bill would criminalize aggravated forms of trafficking and establish a national anti-trafficking bureau, along with locally stationed anti-trafficking units. This bill also includes methods to rehabilitate victims, addresses physical and mental trauma and promoted education, health and skill development.

Additionally, the Rescue Foundation, established in 2000, helps to investigate, rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking in India. Rehabilitation programs include education, computer training, legal aid and counseling. As a result of the Rescue Foundation, more than 5,000 victims have been rescued and more than 15,000 have been rehabilitated and repatriated.

The causes of human trafficking in India include gender discrimination, a vulnerability of the impoverished population and the desperation of the impoverished to support their families. Trafficking industries in India are taking advantage of the plight of India’s disadvantaged and impoverished population for the benefit of others, as trafficking victims are rarely paid as they’re promised.

However, human trafficking in India seems to be endangered as the government progresses in reducing human trafficking in the nation by increasing its border security, aid for trafficking victims and passing the Trafficking in Persons Bill to Parliament. Moreover, nongovernmental organizations like the Rescue Foundation have been successful in rescuing, rehabilitating, and repatriating victims of trafficking back to their families.

– Jillian Baxter
Photo: Flickr

sex trafficking in India
The trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. This profitable industry generates an estimated $99 billion each year. Unsurprisingly, women and girls make up 96 percent of victims of sex trafficking. The action of sexual exploitation is a human rights violation. This exploitation robs these women and girls of integrity, dignity, health, security and equality.

Sex Trafficking in India an Ongoing Issue Despite New Laws

Sex trafficking in India continues to be lucrative and persistent, and poverty is a major factor. Many vulnerable women and girls are lured into the industry because of the promise of employment. When these women and girls are faced with the harsh reality of poverty, hunger and homelessness, many of them see this as the only option. Matters of poverty are sometimes so severe that parents will sell their own daughters into the trade. These women and children have no other options because they do not possess an education or the skills or the resources to escape sex slavery.

Although India’s Parliament passed a bill amending laws concerning sexual violence and making sex trafficking a criminal offense in 2013, this law will only be so successful. Trafficking is profitable, and corruption is widespread. Traffickers can easily pay off police officers to avoid the deserved charges, which leaves women and children still very much at risk and unprotected.

Sudara Provides Employment Opportunities for Sex Trafficking Victims

A mission-driven company exists on behalf of these women and children to not only empower them, but to provide them with dignified employment opportunities. Sudara is an online store that sells items such as clothing, bags, jewelry and children’s toys, yet there is so much story behind each of these items.

Sudara started in 2006 by partnering with a sewing center in India and taught six women how to sew a pattern for loungewear pants that have been named Punjammies. The previous year, founder Shannon Keith had just returned from a trip to India, where she heard many stories of women who were sold into sex slavery and women who were being picked up off the streets by local pimps.

From the beginning, Sudara’s focus and goal has remained the same: to empower women to live in freedom from sex slavery through safe, sustainable living-wage employment. Every pair of Punjammies robes and slouch pants are made in India, and every style is named after a woman at one of the centers.

Fifteen years later, Sudara has multiple sewing center partnerships with people from all over India and the United States. One of these center partners, Ivana, provides women who are at high risk of trafficking with valuable skills training on computers and tailoring. In addition, the center also offers counseling services for every woman as well as on-site childcare for their children.

Sudara’s mission also emphasizes providing a level of care that allows a woman who has been a victim of sex trafficking in India to heal from her past and facilitate training that leads to a self-sufficient future. Because of this, Sudara pays the sewing center partners a premium that goes towards medical care and counseling. This premium also goes towards job placement services and micro-loans for women who would like to start a business of their own.

Sudara’s Nonprofit Arm Helps the Most Vulnerable in India

Sudara also created a nonprofit organization, the Sudara Freedom Fund, to further its social impact goals. The donations made during checkout at sudara.org go towards the Sudara Freedom Fund and have helped fund safe housing for women escaping sex trafficking in India, equipment for new or growing sewing centers and back-to-school programs.

With the continuous support of donations to the Sudara Freedom Fund, one of their most recent successes is the Sunetha Home, which opened in 2017. The Sunetha Home is providing safe housing, meals and an education for 10 girls living in a red light district of India.

Although companies such as Sudara and its nonprofit, the Sudara Freedom Fund, are putting their efforts towards creating freedom for hundreds of women and girls who are at high risk of sex trafficking in India, it is not enough to end sex slavery once and for all. To do that, it is necessary to break the cycle of slavery for the next generation and the generations after that. By supporting Sudara and other philanthropic organization, many people are doing their part to combat the sexual exploitation that millions of women and children face.

– Angelina Gillespie
Photo: Flickr

modern-day slavery facts
While many may associate slavery with the past, the sad truth is that slavery is a bigger issue in today’s world. The numbers are greater than ever, and are only growing. There are a lot of myths surrounding modern-day slavery facts, and a huge amount of basic information that many civilians are not aware of. Knowledge is power, and in the effort to equip citizens with the tools to fight this growing threat, these are the top 10 modern-day slavery facts that people should be aware of.

Top 10 Modern-Day Slavery Facts

  1. Slavery is more rampant now than it has ever been. The numbers prove that there are more slaves in the world now than there has ever been throughout all of history, and those numbers are only growing. With as many as 40 million modern-day slaves in the world today, this increase is something to take seriously.
  2. There are more enslaved laborers than trafficked sex slaves. Many people associate modern-day slavery with sex trafficking, but in reality, 68 percent of enslaved persons are trapped in forced labor of some sort. These people are enslaved in industries highly consumed in places like the United States, the U.K. and other first world countries. Slaves are laboring in the agriculture, textile, chocolate, mining and other industries that many people purchase from, directly or indirectly, on a daily basis.
  3. One-fourth of the slave population consists of children. Kids are being forced into slavery around the globe every day. Two hundred thousand become child soldiers and are thrown into very violent lifestyles against their wills.
  4. Forty-six percent of people know their trafficker. With almost half of enslaved persons having been trafficked by someone they knew, this threat is becoming harder to avoid. People who become enslaved are not always engaged in risky behavior or being careless. Many times, these people are simply hanging out with a friend they thought they could trust.
  5. Slaves are cheaper than they used to be, and therefore disposable. In 1850, a slave could be purchased for the modern equivalent of $40,000. These slaves were, therefore, a long-term investment and something to flaunt as a sign of wealth. Nowadays, a slave can be bought for $90. Being so inexpensive, slaves have become short-term, disposable and something that buyers do not want to publicly acknowledge. When a slave becomes sick or injured, they are simply “dumped” or killed.
  6. Poverty makes people vulnerable to trafficking. When people or families make less money, due to unemployment, war or immigrating, they become at risk. Traffickers pose as employment agents, and those needing a job go along with them, only to become enslaved. Families who want a better life for their children are often targeted by traffickers posing as placement agents, who promise the family a good home or schooling for their child. The family never knows what becomes of their child, who is forced into slavery.
  7. It is not just traffickers that enslave people. Sometimes governments still force labor upon their citizens. In Uzbekistan, people are forced to harvest cotton for two months out of every year. In Mauritania, the country with the highest percent of slavery among its people at 20 percent, there are still laws that prohibit slaves from attaining the rights of normal civilians.
  8. About half of the world’s slaves exist in India. Fourteen million modern-day slaves live in India. Many of these people are “debt slaves“, meaning that people in debt are forced to work to pay off their debt. It extends to their children and grandchildren, becoming a multi-generational chain of slavery.
  9. While slaves are cheap, the profits from them are huge. Annually, the slave market brings in $150 billion annually, which adds up to be more than the combined revenues of the world’s four richest companies.
  10. Almost everyone is contributing to slavery. Even though most people are not actually trafficking anyone into modern-day slavery, the fact is that even our electronics have been touched by slavery, due to the gold or other materials used to make them originating from conflict areas. Ninety percent of the shrimp shipped to United States comes from companies overseas using forced labor. The chocolate bars people consume, the clothing people put on every day, the tomatoes used to make salsa for families, the sugar in the candy given during the holidays and even the soccer balls used in school tournaments are all made or harvested by slave labor. It has trickled down into almost all products used on a daily basis. Becoming a conscious buyer and consumer can make a difference in ways that many are not aware exist.

While slavery is a bigger problem than ever, the moral battle has been won; slavery is no longer considered a just practice. It has become something to be ashamed of, and that was not always the case. What the world has ahead of it are the numbers of enslaved people that need to be freed. While the battle has yet to be won for slavery, becoming informed and spreading the word can truly conquer a lot. These modern-day slavery facts are all very real, and when the rest of the population works to create change, the slavery numbers might be able to be reduced.

– Emily Degn

Photo: Flickr