According to estimates, human trafficking in India may affect between 20 and 65 million people. Women and children are trafficked within the country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage, especially in those areas where the sex ratio is highly skewed in favour of men. A significant number of children are subjected to forced labour as factory workers, domestic servants, beggars, and agriculture workers, while others have been used as child soldiers by insurgent or terrorist groups.
India is also a destination for women and girls from neighbouring countries, smuggled for sexual exploitation. Indian women are also trafficked to the Middle East for the same purpose. Indian migrants who travel willingly to the Middle East and Europe for work as domestic servants and low-skilled labourers may also end up in the country’s human trafficking industry and into situations of forced labour or debt bondage.
Even though India is the world’s largest democratic republic, the country is plagued with widespread poverty and lack of proper education, resulting in a myriad of human rights violations, especially against women and girls. In India alone, over 200 thousand women and children are inducted into the flesh trade every year.
Today, sex trafficking in women and children is one of the fastest growing areas of national and international criminal activity. It is a multi-billion dollar industry, and has created complex criminal networks - at times, with the patronage of those in power. Lack of suitable laws and law enforcement machinery add to the problem.
Sections 370 and 370A were introduced by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. The key changes introduced by these provisions are the specific criminalization of recruitment, transfer, transport, harbouring a person for the purpose of prostitution, forced labour, organ removal by use of threats or inducement; conduct which had previously been covered by general provisions dealing with slavery and abduction. It also provides for enhanced punishment of 7 to 10 years imprisonment.