Anti-Trafficking and Anti-Slavery

India alone is home to 40% of the world’s estimated 45.8 million slaves. Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. In the past decade, the volume of human trafficking has grown to the extent that it is now the third largest form of transnational organized crime after firearms and drugs. In India, the scale of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking is steadily rising despite the existence of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. Trafficking is the recruitment and transportation of a person, within and across national borders, by means of deceit, violence or threat of violence, abuse of authority or dominant position for work or services which may result in forced labour or slavery like practices. Victims of trafficking are exploited and tortured for the financial gains of their exploiters. Children are mainly trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, begging, child labour or for adoption purposes. Trafficking takes place either from state to state or through international borders. In most of the trafficking cases that are tried in court, the children are rescued after they have been trafficked to some place. HRLN in collaboration with the National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (NCCEBL) work towards the eradication of those drafted into bonded labour through activism and advocacy. Through its efforts, hundreds of bonded labourers have been rescued and rehabilitated.

What HRLN Does

An anti-trafficking initiative was established by HRLN to file Public Interest Cases in the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts on issues affecting children. The Anti-Trafficking Initiative provides pro-bono legal services to women and children who are trafficked, and to represent children and women who are victims of sexual abuse or bonded labour during the trial proceedings in trial courts. ATI conducts fact-finding missions, campaigns, and raises awareness through ‘Know our Rights publications. It also organizes consultations, meetings and legal trainings for increasing awareness about trafficking among duty bearers and right holders. HRLN is also a part of the Special Task force for the rescue and rehabilitation of trafficked child labourers and responds to crisis situations through raid and rescue operations.

Main Concerns

• Trafficking of Persons
• Labour (in all its forms)
• Deprivation of Right to Life (modern day slavery/slave like conditions)
• Deprivation of Dignity
• Right to security
• Right to confidentiality
• Denial of access to health services
• Sexual & Reproductive Rights of Trafficked Persons

HRLN Impact

Public Interest Cases filed by lawyers associated with ATI have brought relief to millions of children in this country. Bachpan Bachao Andolan vs UOI & Ors, though initially brought in Supreme Court for children trafficked for working in circus industry is set to mark a tremendous impact on child rights in this country as Supreme Court expanded the scope of this PIL to include each and every aspect of the rights of children. Some of the other impacts include:

• Legal interventions and seeking justice through the court: The Anti-Trafficking Initiative has been doing individual litigation as well filing PILs in state courts and the Supreme Court to seek justice for victims of trafficking.

• Evolving a strong anti-trafficking network in states that are trafficking-hotbeds in India: The initiative has successfully created a legal support system and a strong network of NGOs and community-based organizations in the major trafficking source areas of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, and the northeastern states, and destination states such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kerala.

• Strengthening effective collaboration between anti-trafficking networks in different states: The cooperation between state units and grassroots NGOs has allowed intervening in cases of trafficking and has helped to rescue many girls from trafficking destinations.

• Taking action against trafficking in the state of Kashmir: Kashmir is steadily growing into a major destination for human trafficking for marriage. The HRLN team in Kashmir is a primary legal resource for addressing such cases.

• Prosecution of traffickers: During 2009-2011, about 30 traffickers were arrested in Delhi, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra , Orissa and others, thanks to the rescue interventions by HRLN state coordinators and their timely coordination with the state offices, police, Department of Labour, Child Welfare Committees, Women cells and civil society organizations.
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