Shafiq R Khan


Myths/Misconceptions about Trafficking

Myths/Misconceptions about Trafficking

1 poverty is the only push factor for trafficking

2 Trafficker are always strangers

3 there is no difference between trafficker and Kidnapping

4 Trafficking always involve force

5 Trafficking is directly proportionate to prostitution

6 Trafficking always involves commercial exploitation.

Facts/responses about Trafficking

1 Poverty is the only one of the push factors for Trafficking. There

Are many other social factors responsible for Trafficking such as

unemployment, illiteracy family, natural disaster, disintegration.

2 Most often trafficking are known to the families/victims such as neighbors, villagers or their own family members including fathers/or both parents

3 Trafficking dose not necessarily involve kidnapping. Trafficking generally use deceit or lure the victims it is important to understand the difference between trafficking and kidnapping as most of the time trafficked cases are filed under sections of kidnapping.

4 A trafficked victim is usually trafficked through deceit or fraud.

5 Trafficking also happens for purposes other then prostitution such as child labor etc.

6 Commercial exploitation is one from of exploitation that victims go through; other forms include physical, mental and sexual exploitation and harassment.

1.4 The process of Trafficking

1.4.1 The Traffickers

Trafficking in woman and children has become an increasingly lucrative business especially since the risk of being prosecuted is very low. women and children do not usually come to the brothels of there own will but are brought though highly systematic, organized and illegal-trafficking networks run by experienced individuals who buy, transport and sell children into prostitution.

Traffickers tend to work in group and children being trafficked often change hands to ensure that neither the trafficker nor the child gets caught during transit. Different groups of traffickers include gang members, police, pimps and even politicians all working as a nexus peer trafficking is also encountered, where the victims themselves are used to force or entice other children. Trafficking networks are well organized and have linkages both within the country and in the neighboring countries. Most traffickers are men the role of women in this business is restricted to recruitment at the brothel[1]

The typical profile of a trafficker is a man in his twenties or thirties or a woman in her thirties or forties who have traveled the route t the city several times and know the hotels to stay in and the brokers to contend. They frequently work in groups of two or more. Male and female traffickers are sometimes referred to as dalals and dalalis, (commission agents) respectively and are either employed by a brothel owner directly, or operate independently [2] often, collusion of family members forms an integral part of trafficked with uncles , cousins and stepfathers acting as trafficking agents. In March 1994, Human Rights Watch Asia interviewed seven trafficked victims of whom six were trafficked into India from Nepal with the help of close family friends or relatives. In each cases, the victim complained of deception.

The study of the 50 bar girls conducted by save our Sister in 2000 revealed that 90 percent of them stayed with their families (this includes parents, siblings, husbands, aunts, uncles and children ) In Navi Mumbai. Only 10 percent are single paying guests. Additionally, the study showed that 64 percent of the girls are married and 66percent of these live with their partners . When the girls were asked as to who took the decision to send them to Mumbai , 58percent of the girls reported that it was a male member of the family, usually the father, the husband or an uncle. The mother was involved in only in six percent of the cases while the girls themselves took the decision in only three cases [3].

Trafficking of girls from Nepal to India follows a slightly different pattern with women playing a key role. Women who are already in the sex trade and have graduated to the level of brothel keepers , managers or even owners travel through known villages and neighboring districts in search of young girls . the peak trafficking months precede the harvest when poverty is lilt most acutely and this is the time did is (as female traffickers in Nepal are known ) return it the villages to participate in local festivals. Most recruiters are women desperately trying to escape the abuse and debt bondage of the brothel system themselves. Often their brothel keepers have told them that the only way they can procure their own release is by furnishing a substitute. Thus at any given time , several of these women travel to their villages in the hope of cajoling a younger female relative, a friend or just another village women to accompany them . Most often they are successful and return with anther victim . in lieu of themselves. However, once free, they do not make an exit from the prostitution market , they merely end up working independently and aim to set up their own little shop with around five women working under them[4].

1.4.2 Source and Demand Areas

India serves as a source, transit and destination country for trafficking of women and children for various purposes ranging from bonded labour to camel jockeying , from domestic slavery to the sex trade . The CSWB survey in 1991 which analysed the source or orrgin of women inprostitution in six metropolitan cities of india , revealed that 86 percent of them in these cities came from the following states:

· Andhra Pradesh,

· Karnataka,

· Tamil Nadu,

· West Bengal,

· Maharashtra and

· Uttar Pradesh

Other states from where lesser numbers of people are htrafficked included Assam , Bihar Gujrat , Goa, Madhya Pradesh , Kerala, Meghalaya, Orissa, Pondicherry ,Rajasthan and Delhi whilst the remaining States did not appear to add to the population o f women in prostitution[5].

Mumbai is supplied with women in prostitution from 40 districts across 11 States while Delhi’s come from 70 districts across 14 States in India. In addition to this sizeably large number are trafficked from neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh. These trends reflect the existence of an organized network working at both the national and international levels for trafficking children for the flourishing sex business. This supply of young girls continues to operate unhindered despite the knowledge available to law enforcement and implementing authorities regarding operating routes for trafficking[6]

1.4.3 Strategies

At one times it was assumed that trafficking always involved abduction and forcible removal of people from their homes but it has became clear that trafficking strategies increasingly rely on deception to procure agreement of children and their family. They are lured with promises of better jobs in carpet factories, or jobs as domestic workers in foreign countries or even on the pretext that they will be educated. Promises of marriage are another common ruse adopted by the traffickers. As a result, the children often became active participants in their own trafficking, as recruitment and transportation is concerned.

In some cases the trafficking actually go through a marriage ceremony. A police officer told Human Rights Watch Asia, that in 1989 he arrested a very handsome local youth in Thapa district of Eastern Nepal who had trafficked nine girls to Mumbai by marrying them and then selling them off to brothels in Mumbai with the help of an accomplice. A small proportion of girls are also trafficked from India to the Gulf States and Europe. Middle-aged men traveling to India ostensibly “marry’’ girls aged between 13 and 18. Certificates for such marriages are easily obtainable at a price; the girls are taken away and then coerced into being sex slaves of sold for a higher price. This practice is rampant in Hyderabad.[7]

A significant number of women in prostitution in brothels entered the trade through the Devadasi system or other traditional practices resembling this that, though legally banned, is still in practices in many States of India. In his study titled ‘devadasis-Divine Prostitution’, N.K Singh[8]

Details the manner in which young girls are initiated in to “divine” prostitution by the strategies devised by the older women in prostitution. These women visit village known to them whenever there is a need for new recruits. These procurers are usually elderly women who have retired form the trade and became owners of brothels. Well-fed and dressed in fine silks and ornaments these women parade their prosperity in village in every way possible. Poor families, wanting to send their girls to brothels to earn a living, start visiting these women with requests to take their girls. Following this, the procurers accept invitations to individual families Homes where they are provided non-vegetarian dishes and alcohol to gain their favour. The girls are examined for their complexion, health, age and possible deformities. They are often asked to undress so that they can be examined closely. Prior to these visits families provide the girls good food and keep them indoors to ensure that they look their best during the visits. The procurers select the girls and make an advance payment to the families that will be adjusted against the girl’s earnings at a later date. This payment is used to initiate the girls in to ‘divine prostitution’ at the earliest available opportunity. The procurer then visits the police and travel agencies to make arrangements for their safe passage to their destination. The procurers assure the parent s that the girls will be kept safe in their brothels and will return Home once the contract period is over. Although this usually does not take place till the girls are older or became ill, their return to their families is assured. The procurers send money regularly to the parents, as this ensures a regular supply of girls during their successive visits.


[1] Desai, 2001

[2] Ibid

[3] SOS and VEDH, 2001.

[4] Human Rights Watch-Asia, 1995.

[5] Mukherjee & Das 1993.

[6] SOS, March. 2000.

[7] Ropsario, 1989.

[8][8] N. K. Singh, 1997.

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