Sunday, September 23, 2007


“It is a matter of bitter shame and sorrow and deep humiliation that a number of women have to sell their chastity for men’s lust. Man, the law giver, will have to pay a dreadful penalty for the degradation he has imposed upon the so-called weaker sex. When woman freed from man’s snares rises to the full height and rebels against man’s legislation and institution designed by him, her rebellion, no doubt, non-violent, will be nevertheless effective” - Mahatma Gandhi

In its dictionary meaning, the concept of trafficking denotes a trade in something that should not be traded in. Thus, we have terms like drug trafficking, arms trafficking and human trafficking. Trafficking in women & children, which is a manifestation of the worst form of violence against women, has become a global phenomenon. The international organization for migration estimates that the global trafficking industry generates up to U.S. $8 billion every year from this trade. India is one of the main sources, transit point as well as destination, for trafficking women in South Asia. An Independent study by UNDP & quoted by Jeevan Rekha Parishad estimates that around five lakh girl children in India are subjected to immoral trafficking[1].

The scale of the phenomenon is difficult to judge. It is very difficult to collect data on trafficking because of the clandestine nature of the operations. The ‘trade is secretive, the women are silenced, the traffickers are dangerous and not many agencies are counting’[2]. Calculations of trafficked people are generally made with reference to Commercial Sex Exploitation (CSE). In India, the stigma attached to prostitution and the clandestine nature of operations makes it doubly difficult to arrive at authentic numbers[3].

An unnerving challenge is the enormity of the problem, both in the number of trafficked persons and the increasing number of locations. A recent survey undertaken by the Government of India revealed that new areas like the states Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, which were not in the list of sources areas, are now emerging as such, in addition to state like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal etc.

In India, an estimated 54% of trafficking victims are from socio-economically disadvantaged groups like Scheduled Tribes[4]. Madhya Pradesh is the second largest state in the country and the State has the large number and percentage of tribal population in the country with 45 scheduled tribes that account for 23 per cent of the state population[5]. Madhya Pradesh, because of its central location in India, has remained a crucible of historical currents from North, South, East and West. the state still ranks amongst the more backward states in terms of most demographic indicators. Diversity in Socio-economic conditions is in the nature of the state. With an area of 3.08 Lac square K.M. and density of population 196 per kilometer, it makes the State a difficult terrain, hard to reach and inaccessible.

Trafficking and sexual abuse of girls in the name of tradition still flourishes in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The most visible forms are the system among the Bedia and Bachadda community, in the Mandsaur, Neemuch, Chhatarpur, Morena, shivpuri districts of the state.

There is a strong indication from the available information that women and children were becoming vulnerable to trafficking as they are unable to survive with dignity because of lack of livelihood options. In the absence of awareness of human rights, the economically and socially deprived people at the grassroots have become easy prey to the trafficking trade. Migrating populations have become most vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers. The fact that notwithstanding this stark reality, such gross violations of human rights continued to be a low priority area with law enforcement agencies, made it imperative that this area be investigated.

Trafficking occur in state in a climate of denial and silence at all levels. There is a prevailing silence about violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, and silence about their circumstances, including the abuse and exploitation they often face in their living and working environments in the process of earning a living. This silence manifests itself in a denial in families and communities and in society at large that trafficking of women and girls is taking place. This silence is aiding and abetting the incidences, allowing it to spread, and at the same time perpetuating trafficking.

The commonplace understanding of trafficking as akin to ‘prostitution’ was one of the major reasons why the human rights violations inherent in trafficking were never understood. This called for demystification of the term. The complexity of the phenomenon, its multidimensional nature, its rapid spread and the confusion surrounding the concept made the need for a deeper comprehension of trafficking a top priority. The reasons for its persistence and rapid proliferation are not very clear. Thus, there is an urgent need for a greater understanding of the various aspects of the phenomenon.

[1] The Indian Police Journal Vol. LIII No. 3, July-September 2006
[2] Hughes, Donna. M. The Demand: Driving Force of Sex Trafficking. The Human Rights Challenge of Globalization in Asia-Pacific-U.S: The Trafficiking in Persons, Especially Women and Children November 13-15 2002. Honolulu, Hawaii: Globalization Research Center, University of Hawaii.
[3] Gupta, G. R. 2003. Review of Literature for ARTWAC: Delhi, New Delhi: Institute of Social Sciences.
[4] A Report on Trafficking of Women and Children in India, UNIFEM, 2003-2004,
[5] MP Population policy, January 2000