Child Trafficking, Slavery, Forced Labour and Commercial Sexual Exploitation. You may have heard these words before, especially in context to India. In the recent years, more light is being shed on these issues and the public are more aware of the existence of such crimes. But how much do you really know?
Here are a few facts about trafficking:
1. Today, there are 29.8 million people enslaved globally. That’s more people in slavery today than at any time in human history.
2. India has the highest numbers of enslaved people. Approximately 14.7 million. Almost half of the total enslaved people of the world live in India.
3. Many of India’s enslaved have not been moved from one place to another – they are enslaved in their own villages. By far the largest proportion of slavery is the exploitation of Indians citizens within India itself, particularly through debt bondage and bonded labour and increasingly through sex slavery and child brides.
4. Of those trafficked, over 85% are women and nearly 50% are children. That’s over 14 million children forced into slavery.
5. Children are sold at prices between 700 and 2,500 rupees ($12 and $45) in India. While buffaloes may cost up to 17,500 rupees ($350).
6. The average age of a child being trafficked is 12–14 years old. Though some children are as young as 4 or 5 years.
7. India has the highest number of child labour under 14 in the world. Nearly 85% of the child labourers in India are hard-to-reach, invisible and excluded, as they work largely in the unorganized sector. Majority of the children work in cigarette and bidi factories, construction, and as domestic help. Others work as brick makers, rag pickers, agricultural workers and in industries like fireworks and carpet weaving.
8. Around 1.2 million children are believed to be forced into prostitution in India. Children who are trafficked for sexual exploitation could be forcibly recruited to work in brothels, and they may be required to have sex with as many as 30 men each day.
9. 47% of the girls in India are married before they turn 18. Child marriage usually results in early pregnancies, leading to maternal and newborn morbidity. Child brides are also more likely to be denied education, be isolated from society and face economic and social deprivation.
10. In India, a child goes missing every eight minutes. Almost 40 percent of those children haven’t been found. These are the children who are most likely to be exploited, abused and sold into slavery.
Trafficking is the most prevalent crime against basic human rights. It has horrific consequences. More so, when children are the victims. Trafficked children are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems, abuse substances, and either commit or be victimized by violent crimes later in life. This problem is complex, multifaceted and a global issue. But don’t let these troubling facts and grim trafficking statistics overwhelm you. Even though things are far from perfect, we can still do something.