Increase in number of human traffickers arrested in India

Two girls, ages 13 years and 15 years respectively, rescued from traffickers in two different corners of the country, were brought to West Bengal on Tuesday. World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is observed on 30 July.

One of two rescued persons, who hails from the State’s North 24 Parganas district, went missing on May 23, 2019 and was rescued from Silchar in Assam She was bought and sold by traffickers in Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan), Meerut (Kabari Bazar), Delhi (G.B. Road), Allahabad (Mirganj), and Silchar. The other girl, a resident of the adjoining South 24 Parganas district who was rescued from Delhi earlier this month, went missing on April 4, 2019.

These two cases provide evidence that trafficking of women and girls was and continues to be a big challenge for law enforcement agencies and NGOs working in West Bengal and across India. According to the last available report of the National Crime Record Bureau for the year 2016, out of 8,132 cases of human trafficking recorded in the country, 3,579 cases (around 44%) were from West Bengal alone.

Data tabled

Recent data tabled in Parliament on human trafficking shows that the number of traffickers arrested in the country has also increased. In the year 2014, about 8,220 persons were arrested in connection with human trafficking. The figure increased 10,080 in 2015 and 10,815 in 2016. The data also points out that one in every six trafficker arrested from the country is from Bengal.

Between 2014 and 2016, 4,868 traffickers (1,384 in 2014, 1,637 in 2015, and 1,847 in 2016) were arrested from the State. This accounts for 16.7 % of all traffickers (29,115) arrested in the country between 2014 to 2016. These figures were provided by Ministry of Home Affairs in Lok Sabha in response to a question on July 23.

“While the cases of trafficking in West Bengal have gone up, so have the number of arrests of traffickers from West Bengal. In several cases, as with the rescue of a girl from North 24 Parganas, the police has played a key role not only in rescuing girls but arresting traffickers,” Rishi Kanta of Shakti Vahini, an organisation working to combat trafficking, said.

Lured on social media

Another challenge that agencies are grappling with is the use of social media by traffickers to trap and dupe young girls. In the case of traffickers using telephone numbers, it’s easier for the police to trace them, but trying to apprehend traffickers on the basis of fake profiles on social media is turning out to be tough for law enforcement agencies.

“In the past one month we have come across at least four cases in West Bengal where the traffickers have approached girls over social media, won their confidence, and kidnapped them,” Mr. Kant said. The activist said that even in remote areas like the Sunderbans, girls are being duped by traffickers using fake profiles on social media.

“Traffickers are exploiting the power of social media to contact, recruit, and sell children for sexual exploitation. The lack of digital literacy and online safety measures expose these children to new forms of abusive threats. Modern technologies render the perpetrators anonymous, allowing them to perpetuate the crime of sexual exploitation using social media with impunity,” said Saji Philip, director-operations, International Justice Mission, which is also working against human trafficking.

Experts are of the opinion that spreading awareness in schools about avoiding such perpetrators in social media, as with the aim of the West Bengal government’s Swayangsiddha scheme, can be one of the means to counter the new modus operandi of organised crime in human trafficking.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 2:58:36 AM |

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