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Curbing human trafficking

The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons which is observed on this day reminds the global community of the hard

human trafficking

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  30 July 2020 4:15 AM GMT

The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons which is observed on this day reminds the global community of the hard reality that prevailing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the vulnerability of the potential victims. Women and children have been the worst victims of trafficking in persons all over the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes women and girl children account for 70 per cent of the total detected trafficked victims while children constitute about one third of them. The threat of traffickers exploiting the helpless condition of a large section of the population in India due to loss of income and livelihoods during lockdown and contraction in the economy in the prevailing pandemic situation has risen manifold. The world day is a reminder to the Central government to fast track the process of passing the anti-trafficking Bill to shield the potential victims from falling into the trap laid by traffickers and rehabilitate the rescued victims to help them lead a new life free from worries of being trafficked again. The Lok Sabha passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018. As Rajya Sabha could not consider the Bill, it lapsed upon dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. Human trafficking takes place within the country and also across transnational borders. The Report on Missing Women and Children in India published by the NCRB in 2019 reveals an alarming rise in the number of missing women in the country from 1,74,021 in 2016 to 2,23,621 in 2018. The number of missing children in the country also went up from 63,407 to 67,134 during the period. Assam also recorded increase in the number from 2,850 in 2016 to 4,087 in 2018. The state also reported increase in number of missing children from 1381 to 1639 during the period indicating the rise in vulnerability of the women and children in the state. Data show that the number of missing women in the country is more during the period than the men. The report states that "The UNODC Global report 2018 on trafficking in person" indicates that the vast majority of the detected victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are females, and 35 per cent of the victims trafficked for forced labour are also females, both women and girls. At the same time, more than half of the victims of trafficking for forced labour are men. The common cause of trafficking is forced marriage, child labour, domestic help, and sexual exploitation, the UNODC report states. Real picture of trafficking in the country and in the states could be more alarming as the available data are two years older and not comprehensive. Updating the NCRB data bases as well as crime data bases of the states to make available real time data on trafficking in person is critical to timely intervention by prosecution agencies and taking corrective steps in anti-trafficking measures besides reviewing policies on rehabilitation of the victims. As in July 2019 there are 254 projects including 134 Protective and Rehabilitative Homes in the country under the Ujjawala Scheme for prevention of trafficking, rescue, rehabilitation, re-integration, and repatriation of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. The total number of beneficiaries in the entire country is 5,291 which, when contrasted with the overall trafficking scenario is too less and indicates that the much needs to be done by the country to prevent the crime. Among the North-eastern states Manipur accounts for highest number of 905 beneficiaries followed by Assam with 607 beneficiaries. Both the States have 19 Ujjawala Homes each. Objectives of the scheme include facilitating rescue of victims from the place of their exploitation, placing them in safe custody, providing rehabilitation services both immediate and long-term to the victims by providing basic amenities/needs such as shelter, food, clothing, medical treatment including counselling, legal aid and guidance and vocational training. It also aims at facilitating reintegration of the victims into the family and society at large and repatriation of cross-border victims to their country of origin. Total allocation in the Union Budget for 2020-21 under the head Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women is Rs 1163 crore. The increase under the head which includes the Ujjawala scheme over the 2019-20 budget was only Rs 202 crore for the entire country while it was only Rs 26 crore more than the allocation in 2018-19. Actual budget allocation for the Ujjawala scheme for 2018 was Rs 6.34 crore in 2018-19. This increased to Rs 20 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 30 crore in the current financial years. Massive funding of the scheme as well as the entire budget head of Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women will help curb trafficking of women and children. This calls for the States to prioritize anti-trafficking measures in their budgets.

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