India is a Hub of Child Trafficking, Says State Dept

Child Trafficking in India GandhiIndia is a major hub of human trafficking in forced labor and sexual exploitation, especially of children, noted the U.S. State Department in a report released recently. India’s major cities and towns with tourist attractions — including religious pilgrimage centers, such as Tirupati, Guruvayoor and Puri — continue to be focal points for child sex tourism, noted the Trafficking In Persons report, annually issued by the State Department. For the seventh year in a row, India remained on the Tier 2 Watch list, receiving one of the lowest rankings.

Each year, about 1.2 children are victims of human trafficking and prostitution. More than 100 million people are forced to work in slave-like conditions. Sex tourism continues to be highly profitable. A fair-skinned eight-year-old girl can fetch US$ 2,500 a night. Underage female prostitution is a billion-dollar industry, up 30 per cent over previous years.

India Remains Hub of Child Trafficking, Says State Dept

SUNITA SOHRABJI | INDIAWEST.COM: Nearby Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were also placed on the Tier 2 Watch list, while Pakistan received a Tier 2 ranking, indicating it was at least partially in compliance with the international Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act.

“This report provides in-depth assessments and recommendations for 177 countries, some of whom are making great progress toward abolishing the illicit trade in human beings. Others are still doing too little to stem the tide,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while releasing the report last week.

“Behind these statistics on the pages are the struggles of real human beings, the tears of families who may never see their children again, the despair and indignity of those suffering under the worst forms of exploitation,” she said, adding, “Through this report we bear witness to their experience and commit ourselves to abolishing this horrible crime.”

Citing reports by international agencies, the Web site DNA India notes that the trafficking of minor girls has become a $1 billion-a-year industry with a 30 percent increase from previous years; Mumbai has emerged as one of the leading markets. A fair-skinned minor — as young as eight — fetches about $2,500 per night, while a dusky-skinned child is sold for about $2,000 per night. Victims are denied food and water if they do not perform with the clients, notes DNA India, adding that beatings are a regular part of the child prostitute’s life.

Women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh are also subjected to forced prostitution in India.

INDIAWEST.COM: In India forced labor constitutes the largest part of the trafficking problem. Men, women and children in debt bondage are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, embroidery factories or agriculture. Children are forced to work as factory laborers, especially in carpet factories where their tiny fingers are prized for the intricate weaving work, or as domestic servants and beggars.

Forced domestic work is particularly a problem in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Orissa.

“The Indian government has not demonstrated sufficient progress in its law enforcement, protection or prevention efforts to address labor trafficking,” noted the TIP report, adding, however, that the country was making significant efforts to end sex trafficking, particularly in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and the Indian Embassy in Oman have begun to address the issue of migrant workers subjected to forced labor in other countries, noted the report.

State and central governments must strengthen their law enforcement capacity against labor trafficking and limit traffickers’ opportunities for bail, noted the TIP report, adding that higher criminal penalties must be levied against traffickers and the “clients” of child prostitutes.

The involvement of public officials in human trafficking remains a problem in India, noted the report. Corrupt law enforcement officials protect brothels and brothel keepers. In several recent cases, lawyers representing pimps and brothel managers were able to obtain the release of child sex-trafficking victims from protective shelters. The girls were subsequently put back into prostitution.

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