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Eliminating Sex Trafficking in India, an Overview


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Commercial sex work, a high margin business, has led to the systematic trafficking and exploitation of women and girls for profit especially in poor countries like India. Sold by impoverished families, traded like commodities by traffickers, these girls are forced into submission by brothel madams, beaten by pimps, intimated by the police and scorned by civilized society for no fault of their own. Stigmatized, brutalized and exploited most sex workers have zero avenues for rehabilitation, zero rights to a normal life and zero hope for a better tomorrow .

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Eliminating Sex Trafficking in India, an Overview

  1. 1. Zero Traffick A brief overview of sex trafficking in India. November 2013.
  2. 2. The Issue Trafficking is a crime against humanity - It can impede efforts to improve health, increase economic growth, achieve gender equality and can pose a threat to lifeƟme prospects of adolescent girls. This crime can however be combaƩed through the effecƟve funcƟoning of the 4P framework: PrevenƟon, ProtecƟon, ProsecuƟon and Partnerships. Below are some staƟsƟcs that provide an insight into the dismal situaƟon of women in India: 3 million women (2.48%) are engaged in commercial sex acƟvity (CSA) in India, a 50% rise from 1997 Over 60% of those trafficked into sex work are adolescent girls in the age group of 12-16 years More than 35% girls in India enter CSA before 18 years of age India has 3 lakh brothels in 1100 idenƟfied red-light areas, housing nearly 5 million children in addiƟon to commercial sex workers (Burman 2008) More than 25% of women in CSA in India are situated in Maharashtra (14.20%) and West Bengal (13%) While it is a significant challenge to determine the prevalence of trafficking due to the covert nature of the trade it is esƟmated that 80 per cent of sex workers naƟonwide, represenƟng 16 million women, are vicƟms of sex trafficking. Kidnapped or lured from their homes, they have been forced into sexual slavery through a combinaƟon of coercion, torture, starvaƟon and rape. Typically they are taken from rural communiƟes and relocated to ciƟes hundreds of miles away, across state and even naƟonal borders, where they have no support network and oŌen don’t even speak the local language. InternaƟonal funding for anƟ-trafficking efforts has receded in the past decade. There is a need to develop local philanthropy that is sustainable and strategic to fund and build the capacity of non-profits in India so they can conƟnue their work and even scale up their efforts to combat this rapidly growing problem. “I bring new children to my customers everyday. I get INR 2000-3500 per child. I don’t feel bad…if I get such high profits selling something else, I will do that as well.” 35 Year Old Sex Trafficker 1
  3. 3. Regions Affected According to government data, 74% of Indian States have a high concentraƟon of women engaged in the sex trade. A high concentraƟon is one where at least 2% of the total women between 15-35 years of age in that parƟcular state are engaged in the sex trade. While Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have emerged as major source areas, Maharashtra, Delhi and Goa are the major desƟnaƟon states. The geographical posiƟon of West Bengal, coupled with having some of the poorest districts in India, has made it a prime source area for CSE vicƟms. According to experts, Mumbai is the most likely desƟnaƟon. West Bengal (Source) Maharashtra (DesƟnaƟon) % of states ConcentraƟon % of women between 15-35 years engaged in prosƟtuƟon 74% High 2% 25% Medium 0.75%-2% 1% Low < 0.75% 2
  4. 4. SoluƟon Dasra has studied the anƟ sex trafficking eco-system and recommends four cornerstones that are crucial in combaƫng the crime: IdenƟfying the Underlying Factors and Facts of Sex Trafficking Understanding the scope of the trafficking problem is crucial to idenƟfying targeted soluƟons. InvesƟng in partnerships is necessary to enable centralised analysis of data across stakeholder groups and geographical regions. Comprehensive data sets can then facilitate an understanding of underlying factors of trafficking, establish linkages, and provide insights to tackle this macro problem. Strengthening insƟtuƟonal capacity and engaging key responders Strengthening exisƟng government infrastructure and sensiƟsing key responders such as gram panchayats, police and judiciary, to the issue of trafficking, and their parƟcular roles will determine effecƟve prevenƟon of trafficking, protecƟon of trafficked vicƟms and prosecuƟon of perpetrators. Focusing AnƟ Sex Trafficking Efforts on the Demand Side Trafficking flourishes because demand exists. Evidence suggests that focusing anƟ-trafficking efforts on clients, traffickers and corrupt police officials that abet trafficking will increase the risk and decrease the profitability of the trafficking business. Moreover, influencing the behaviour of young boys through school-based gender sensiƟsaƟon campaigns will lead to a decrease in future demand. FacilitaƟng an Integrated and HolisƟc Human Rights Approach Sex trafficking is a violaƟon of several human rights. It is therefore criƟcal to adopt a rights-based approach to trafficking as it is holisƟc and integrated and places the vicƟm at the centre of all responses and ensures that the state remains accountable for promoƟng and protecƟng the rights of exisƟng and potenƟal trafficked persons. “My sister and I came to know that our mother was a sex worker and we felt sick about it. AŌer my husband leŌ me, I had few opƟons and was thinking about entering the trade. That is when I saw the board of Sari Bari and met the ‘didis’ here. I received three months of tailoring training. Now I make between INR 4,000-5,000 every month. I have also been able to rescue three girls from the trade. I told them that this job is more respectable and that that they could live with dignity. Now I have saved money and also bought a life insurance policy.” - Tinki, SarBari (Dasra, site visit) 3
  5. 5. Dasra idenƟfied over 80 non-profit organisaƟons in West Bengal and Maharashtra to evaluate approaches, models and intervenƟons. Following a comprehensive diligence process, Dasra has shortlisted and highlighted 13 high-potenƟal non-profit organisaƟons which are prevenƟng trafficking, protecƟng vicƟms and supporƟng the prosecuƟon of trafficking perpetrators by working within the community and in partnership with law enforcement agencies and internaƟonal agencies. Several of the following organisaƟons implement programmes other than anƟ trafficking. However, for the purpose of this report, Dasra has chosen to focus only on their anƟ sex trafficking iniƟaƟves. Name PosiƟon On Board Aangan Trust Apne Aap Women’s CollecƟve Freedom Firm Jabala Kolkata Sanved Oasis FoundaƟon www.oasisfoundaƟ Prerana www.preranaanƟ Rescue FoundaƟon www.rescuefoundaƟ Sanjog Sanlaap Snehalaya Save The Children India Suprava No country can afford to squander the lives of 16 million trafficked vicƟms, 6 million of them children under 18 years of age. To do so would not only waste their lives but call into quesƟon our own humanity. Ending this modern day slavery must become a priority for philanthropic investment. "I implore businesses, civil society and each and every person to pledge their support for the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for VicƟms of Human Trafficking. The special role that the business community can play in the Fund is one where I would parƟcularly like to hear your views. 'Have a heart' for vicƟms of human trafficking and help us protect the vicƟms of this crime." Yury Fedotov, UNODC ExecuƟve Director 3