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One-third of traffickers are women and neighbours, says new study

Lack of legal support to survivors and a prolonged trial gives impunity to traffickers in many cases.

Lack of legal support to survivors and a prolonged trial gives impunity to traffickers in many cases.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Of the 429 accused, 50% are in the age group of 25 to 45 years

A recent study conducted on the profile of persons accused in trafficking in almost 200 cases in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh has revealed that one-third of them are women.

“One-third, or 162 out of 429 traffickers (accused in cases of trafficking) are female. Fifty per cent, or 216 accused in these cases are from the age group of 25 to 45 years,” Snigdha Sen, a researcher who has come out with the findings, told The Hindu.

For the study and analysis, Ms. Sen collaborated with several organizations such as HELP from Andhra Pradesh, Goranbose Gram Bikash Kendra (GGBK) from West Bengal and Partners for Anti-Traficcking (PAT), which is a consortium of eight community-based organizations in Bengal.

Not family members

In the study, Ms. Sen analysed documents such as chargesheets, FIRS and police general diaries related to 198 human trafficking cases registered between 2008 and 2018. Of the 429 people whose names appeared as accused in these 198 cases, only in 30 were the accused family members, including from the extended family.

“There was a belief in some people that in many cases family members are involved in trafficking. That does not hold true in this research. In most cases, if the survivors are asked they will say Didi (sister) took them from their village. But on a more detailed inquiry, it will be revealed that the accused is not a relative but a neighbour or an acquaintance,” Subhasree Raptan, programme manager of GGBK said.

The largest group of the traffickers (34%, or 148) were neighbours, while 31% were completely unknown to the survivors, the study said.

Lack of legal support

According to Ms. Sen, of the 198 cases analyzed — in which the names of 429 accused have figured — only one trafficker from the source area was convicted. Similarly, in all the cases analysed, only two other traffickers were convicted from the destination area. According the researcher and the organisations who are part of the study, a “lack of legal support to survivors and a prolonged trial gives impunity to traffickers” .

“The findings reaffirm the belief that traffickers enjoy a high degree of impunity because of the lackluster investigation, and lack of retribution encourages them to carry on with their crimes that leads to surge in incidents of human trafficking,” Ms Sen said.

Ms. Raptan highlighted that in many cases of trafficking, survivors were not told that they were entitled to victim compensation from public prosecutors representing their case in courts.

The last published report of the National Crime Record Bureau for 2016 recorded 8,132 cases of human trafficking in the country, of which 3,579 cases (around 44%) were from West Bengal alone.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 4:32:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/one-third-of-traffickers-are-women-and-neighbours-says-new-study/article29344412.ece

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