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 1956 has 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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