Over 1 lakh kids missing: UN report says India needs better defined trafficking laws

Trafficking is prohibited by the constitution of India. Yet, India is a source, destination and transit country for human trafficking primarily for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. False marriages are also becoming a pull factor for trafficking women and girls according to a United Nations report, 2011, titled 'Responses to human trafficking in Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka'.

In a recently held colloquium on human trafficking held in Chandigarh, U Sarathchandran, member secretary of National Legal Services Authority, informed, "There are more than 1 lakh missing children in India, who might have been trafficked and about 80 per cent of the trafficked population in India are minors".

The UN report, in this regard, discusses concerns on trafficking in India, laws related to it and some key recommendations for all four countries. It mentions that cross-border trafficking from Nepal and Bangladesh to

India is rampant and is difficult to identify. This is especially true in case of Nepal as India has an open border policy with the country. There are fourteen legal entry points between these two countries but illegal entry is also easily possible.

In many cases, the report points out that, the migration is initially voluntary, which later turns out to be a case of trafficking. A 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, released by the government of United States of America, provides evidence of NGOs in North East India, luring girls with promises of lucrative jobs and then forcing them into prostitution and forced marriages. The report also mentions that trafficking into states like Haryana is more common due to the high demand for brides because of the low sex ratio caused by sex selective abortions.

The Indian constitution provides safeguards against trafficking through the fundamental rights, which are enforceable by law, as well as the directive principles of state policy, which are non-justiciable. The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956, specifically, addresses human trafficking. There are other legal provisions related to bonded labour, child labour, juvenile justice and protection of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, which touch upon the issue. However, "trafficking" is not defined anywhere in the Indian legal system, which leaves much scope for multiple interpretations.

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