The scale of human trafficking is high in India, but relative to that, the rates of investigations, prosecutions and convictions in the country were “disproportionately low”, said a US report on global trends in human trafficking.

In the annual report on the trade of human trafficking, the US has continued to place India in ‘Tier 2’ list.

In India, human trafficking is wide spread in many cities. India was urged to increase prosecutions and convictions for all forms of trafficking which also includes forced and bonded labour, and of officials allegedly complicit in it, by the annual Trafficking in Persons Report for 2018 of the US State Department.

The department said “the government of India does not fully meet the minimum standards for elimination of trafficking, However, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, and therefore, India remained on Tier 2.”

According the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) of the US, each country in this report were placed on one of the four tiers by the department.

When the government of a particular country does not completely meet the TVPA’s minimum standards but has been making important efforts to bring itself to conform to those standards, the country is placed in a Tier 2 list.

In India, the efforts that were noticeable were focused towards enhancement of identification of the number of victims as well as in the budgeting for the plans and programs of rehabilitation for female and child trafficking victims, the report said.

It is mentioned in the report that in 2017, the government of India’s inter-ministerial committee had discussed and revised a draft anti-trafficking bill. On the other hand, at the same time, at Nepal border, programs to increase awareness about human trafficking among students and border communities was conducted by India’s border guard force.

The report said: “however, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Overall victim protection remained inadequate and inconsistent and the government sometimes penalised victims through arrests for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to human trafficking.”

The state department said that India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. This has been the picture since the last five years.

India’s largest trafficking problem is forced labour. The report said that men, women, and children are entrapped in debt bondage which sometimes go down from previous generations. Such victims are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, embroidery factories and agriculture for virtually no pay.

The report also said that the trafficking problem in India is internal. The low cast Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women and girls form the groups that are the most helpless.

The report said: “workers within India who mine for sand are potentially vulnerable to human trafficking. Thousands of unregulated work placement agencies reportedly lure adults and children under false promises of employment into sex trafficking or forced labour, including domestic servitude.”

The report further said: “in addition to traditional red-light districts, women and children increasingly endure sex trafficking in small hotels, vehicles, huts, and private residences. Traffickers increasingly use websites, mobile applications.”

India has been in the Tier 2 list since from 2011.

(Adapted from TheHindustanTimes.com)