The Displaced Innocence: Human Trafficking In India

Published on 31 Dec 2016 by Team

Human Trafficking has been prevalent for a long time. Earlier it was accepted in various forms, Slavery being one of them. Human Trafficking has been defined by various legal systems across the world, sharing certain characteristics. The United Nation adopted a standard definition of the term in Article 3 of the  Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (Trafficking in Persons Protocol).

Paragraph (a) of the article defines trafficking in persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Child Trafficking is another synonym for Child abuse. Children are more vulnerable than adults and thus pose as easy targets for traffickers. Children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. Children are usually trafficked for the purpose of; sexual exploitation, benefiting from fraud, forced marriage, domestic servitude (Cleaning, Cooking etc.), forced labour in factories and industries, criminal activities (Pickpocketing, begging, transportation of drugs)

International framework

In its resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000, the United Nation General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and two of its supplementary Protocols namely: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea.

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, came into force on 25th December 2003. The intention with which this instrument was adopted was to facilitate convergence with domestic approaches by signatory countries pertaining to the establishment of domestic criminal offences that would support efficient international cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in a person's case. 


Human Trafficking is the 3rd largest profitable industry in the world. The victims of trafficking are generally women and children. There are an estimated 40 million people around the world who are victims of human trafficking, out of these over 50% victims are children. Trafficking in women and children is an operation which is worth more than $ 10 billion annually. The International Labor Organization’s 2002 estimation of 1.2 million children being trafficked each year remains the reference. 

Judicial instruments in India 

In India, 12,000-50,000 women and children are trafficked into the country from neighbouring states for the sex trade. Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act 1956has severe penalties for those engaged in trafficking and is India’s most comprehensive anti-trafficking statute. Section 370 of Indian Penal Code, defines the offence of trafficking and criminalises anyone who recruits, transports, harbours, transfer or receives a person using a certain means for purpose of exploitation. Punishment ranges from 7 to 10 years, rigorous imprisonment with fine. Further, this section criminalises anyone who engages a trafficked minor or adult for sexual exploitation.

Cyber Crime and Human Trafficking 

The recently budding predicament of human trafficking via untraceable areas of the internet has been witnessed. Deep Web, also known as “Deepnet/Darknet,” the “Invisible Web,” the “Undernet” or the “hidden Web,” are parts of the Internet that are not considered part of the “surface web,” or the portion of the World Wide Web that is indexed by conventional search engines, these areas of web are untraceable as the users identity remains anonymous. About 22 million photos and videos involving child pornography have been reported on such sites, largely due to the use of the darknet, making child pornography one of the largest industries to date; crossing US $20-30 billion a year, the eventually is giving rise to trafficking of children both directly and indirectly.

Trafficking is not a new phenomenon, the Internet is a new resource for Traffickers to find vulnerable children, sell them for sexual exploitation, and do all this under hidden identities. The nature of this sites are such that they are highly unregulated, perpetrators who purchase trafficked children are able to use this platform for criminal purposes with minimal risk of prosecution.

Growing scope of Cyber Crimes 

The cybercrime in India has not seen development from hacking and basic malware attacks, however over time there have been growing concerns regarding drug peddling through the internet, such offences are not only covered under the Indian penal code but are also covered under the Information and Technology Act of 2008, Chapter XI and hence are punishable. Under Section 67 B of the Act punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in the sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form is provided. Such laws ensure the action against the crime pertaining to trafficking through internet but there lacks a preventative action in terms of the active movement against such offences. There is a need for introducing laws that may regulate such activities which are non-traceable.

Darknets have become a major threat and a breeding ground for unregulated anti-social activities. Laws pertaining to this sort of cyber-crimes are extremely outdated, and in turn, criminals on darknets have adapted. Human trafficking is only the tip of the iceberg of the crime on the deep web, with much more disturbing activities going on there. It may seem the deep web, being an outlet for complete online anonymity, needs to be more highly regulated by the government.

Agencies such as the CBI, RAW etc. and others with cyber divisions should not only increase their capacities but also work together seamlessly in monitoring and taking down these darknets. This may involve heavy monitoring of TOR servers. Crime divisions need to adopt a new policy and adapt to the ever-changing world of cyber-crime. In conclusion, the current laws to control the new means of human trafficking needs more modernisation and this is only possible if the leakages are identified properly.

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