Human Trafficking

Human trafficking in the 21st Century

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Human trafficking is a term used for the trade of humans for forced labor, sexual slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, or any other illegal reason. It is a crime against a person and humanity as it deprives a person of their fundamental rights. 

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), forced labour, being only a single component, still generates an estimated $150 billion per annum in profits in 20141

Human trafficking is the third-largest crime industry in the world after drug dealing and arms trafficking.2

On a global dimension, people are often sold from developing nations to developed ones. Human trafficking is defined by United Nations3 as, “the human trafficking represents the recruitment, transportation, sheltering, and receiving persons, by means of menacing and other forms of restraint, by kidnapping, racketeering, fraud or power abuse, by using a vulnerable situation, by giving or getting money or other goods with the purpose of having the consent of a person upon other for exploitation. By exploitation, we understand prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, labor or forced services, slavery or similar practices, servitude, or organ preservation.” 

Terms of Human Trafficking

Victim of trafficking

Any person subjected to trafficking, regardless of age, gender, race, or other things. 


Represents the person involved in the first stage of trafficking, i.e, in which the victim is closely studied in order to find all those vulnerable things to be taken advantage of, gaining their confidence, etc.


Represents the person who commits the infringement of trafficking. He acts as a linking person between the recruiter and the victim of trafficking. 


He is basically the last link of the chain, the one who actually exploits the victim. 

Types of trafficking

There can be different types of trafficking, some of the types of trafficking are written as follows-

Child trafficking

Child trafficking includes recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. It may involve child pornography, child forced labor, slavery, servitude, removal of organs, illicit international adoption, recruitment as child soldiers, used for begging, etc. traffickers may take advantage of parents’ extreme poverty and can manipulate them to sell their children for a sum of money. 

The victims are deceived by different means, usually by being promised to work abroad and then are forced to practice begging. For the work they do, they get a very small amount of money, are kept in miserable conditions and in a continuous mental tension so that their will can be defeated. The desire of the victims to give up this activity is rejected, being under permanent constraint to continue practising begging. In order to accomplish begging, children are mainly preferred, but also old people, women, and disabled persons. 

The Hague Convention on the protection of children and co-operation in respect of inter-country adoption is an international convention dealing with international adoption, aimed at preventing child laundering, child trafficking, and other abuses related to international adoption. 

Some traffickers demand children to commit criminal activities. The demand refers to children who are trained for criminal activities. The criminals use these children for committing pickpocketing, car theft, etc. They take benefits from all the financial goods these children earned, whereas the children get, in the best of cases, a very insignificant amount or they may not get anything at all. 

Sex trafficking

The broadest and wide form of trafficking is concerned with the trafficking of girls and women for sexual exploitation. Here, the victims are exploited especially for prostitution, pornography, or shows like striptease, dancing, etc. It affects the mental as well as physical health of the girls and deteriorates their social integrity and dignity. Some women and girls reduce to accept prostitution and they are recruited under the pretext of being offered a well-paid job and afterwards are submitted to cruel sexual exploitation in brothels from Kosovo, Greece, Italy, etc. These women most of the time also lose their mental strength to escape from the captivity of their traffickers. It represents a very serious threat to our society and it requires a very serious approach too. 

Forced marriage

Forced marriage is a kind of marriage in which one or both persons marry without their free consent. In countries like China, women from neighbouring countries are moved with the promises of better standards of living, well-paid jobs but they are forced to marry Chinese men. 

Labor trafficking

Forced labour or slavery is relevantly traditional only. The slave finds himself in the possession of the owner, who uses him according to his own wishes and desires, the owner can give away (sell) the slave anytime he wishes. The person is under the possession of the owner is deprived of his freedom for his life. 

Traffickers have promptly reacted to the process of buying and selling slaves and more and more people have been victims of forced labor. It may involve bonded labor, involuntary servitude, domestic servitude, and child labor. It happens mostly with the domain of agriculture, domestic work, construction, manufacturing, etc. 

Trafficking for organ trade

There is a high demand for healthy organs and tissues. For this purpose, traffickers take a huge advantage of it. For instance, they convince people in need to sell their or their children’s organs for a huge amount of money. Even adults are deceived, as they get convinced for high-paying jobs and end up being victims of forced surgeries etc. Trafficking is thus manifested by the following means: 

  1. the extraction of organs within the borders of the country and eventually, their trading abroad; 
  2. the selling of people over the borders for the extraction of their organs. 
  3. Migrant workers, homeless persons, and illiterate persons are mostly victims of organ trafficking. 

Causes for Trafficking

The most common and vulnerable causes that lead to people being trafficked are poverty, lack of prospects, and a belief in a better future. However, traffickers involve in such activities for the demands of forced laborers, sexual exploitation, slavery, etc. 

Lack of education and financial resources in home countries may lead one to migrate to other unsafe nations and resort to such illegal activities like sex trade, forced labor, etc. 

Globalization and the rise of technology have also been an aid to the crime of human trafficking by making it so easy and economic to connect recruiters from traffickers to victims of trafficking. 

Corrupt and inadequately trained police officials may help in human trafficking and commit violence against sex workers and other trafficked workers. 


Loss of human rights

Human rights can be defined as the basic rights of humanity that every human being should be entitled to. UN declaration on human rights validated the need and enforcement of human rights in December 1948 and included the idea of a world devoid of slavery and forced labor. Human trafficking is an infringement of human rights in its purest form as it trespasses on a person’s right to life, freedom, equality, dignity, safety, non-discrimination, etc. 

Mental health issues

Traffickers impose several types of psychological threats on the victims including fear, physical and emotional violence. Traffickers take advantage of young girls by luring them into the business through force and coercion, but more often through false promises of love, security, and protection. This form of coercion works to recruit and initiate the victim into the life of a sex worker, while also reinforcing a “trauma bond”, also known as Stockholm syndrome. 

These types of practices leave the victim totally dependent on the trafficker. They also expose the victims to large amounts of alcohol and drugs, isolations, or without food or sleep to get control of their minds and bodies.

Long term impacts

Victims of human trafficking also experience long-term traumas due to long terms of sexual abuses, domestic violence, gang rapes, etc. 

These traumas may include depressions, anxiety, self-hatred ness, self-destructive behaviors, medical despairs, etc. Victims may also develop STDs or HIV/AIDS due to constant sexual intercourses with different men.

Children are especially vulnerable to these developmental and psychological consequences of trafficking due to their age. In order to gain complete control of the child, traffickers often destroy the physical and mental health of the children through persistent physical and emotional abuse.

Human Trafficking in India

Human trafficking is a very significant and ever-growing problem in a nation like India. Human traffickers mostly go for India due to their excessive poverty and vulnerability. Persons of every age group whether men, women, or children, all are being trafficked from India in a very highlighted number. Thousands of north-eastern Indian girls disappear every year which does not even get reported by the families due to the stigma of being engaged in the sex trade. 

India is also believed to be a destination spot for women from Nepal and Bangladesh for the purpose of commercial sex exploitation. There are some Indian migrants who willingly migrate from India to various middle-east countries to work as domestic help and other types of forced and bonded laborers. 

There had been a no. of steps taken by the government and legislature to prevent these types of illegal activities relating to human trafficking, but still, it is a never-ending problem in India.

Legislations for human trafficking

Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT)

The UN is trying to work out measures that will reduce human trafficking such as Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons (ICAT), a policy forum mandated by the UN General Assembly to facilitate the process of preventing and combating trafficking in persons, including protection and support for victims of trafficking, and The Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking, which operates as a subsidiary fund to provide humanitarian, legal and financial assistance to victims of trafficking through governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. the UN is trying to work out measures that will reduce human trafficking.

Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT)

The European Union (EU) and UNODC in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched the Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) in 2015.

It is a four-year joint initiative that is expected to be delivered in strategically selected countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America with a focus on assistance to governmental authorities, civil society organizations, victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants. Only five countries have joined the initiative: Brazil, Colombia, Nepal, South Africa, and Laos. 

Prosecution in India

The Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) was enacted to penalize trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. 

Bonded Labour Abolition Act, child labor act and the juvenile justice act penalize the bonded and forced labor trafficking.

Under the Indian Penal Code, sections 366A and 372 prohibits and punishes kidnapping and selling minors for prostitution and to arrest traffickers. 

The government of India launched an anti-human trafficking web portal in 2014 to spread more awareness and to help the victims of human trafficking.


Human trafficking represents an extremely serious social phenomenon, which brings serious prejudices to the fundamental rights of people. Disappointing statistics prove once again that the problem of human trafficking is gaining momentum and needs an immediate solution. Preventing human trafficking and exploitation is a challenge that extends beyond the border of any single country. 

Every nation should take this problem very seriously and should do everything they can to prevent these types of activities as they completely consume a person and leave him/her devastated. 


  3. The UN Convention from Palermo, 13th of December 2000
  4. Human Trafficking in the 21st Century | Chances |
  5. Modern-Day_Slavery_-_Human_Trafficking_In_The_21st.pdf

Anshika Singla

Student, Punjabi University, Patiala

Anshika Singla is a researcher, writer and always a learner. She is from Punjab. She is immensely interested in Constitutional law and Criminal law. She believes that a perfectly written article can change perspectives of people. For any clarifications, suggestions and feedback, contact her at

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