Shafiq R Khan


Trafficking – an Overview

Definitions of Trafficking

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially women and Children’ (UN Trafficking Protocol)

Trafficking in persons shall mean recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by men’s of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abdication , of fraud, of deception , of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a porson.having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation .Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs।

In explaining the following SAARC definition, please note that it deals with trafficking in relation to prostitution only।

SAARC, South Asian association for regional cooperation Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking of women and children for prostitution.

The moving, selling, buying of women and children for prostitution with in and outside a country for monetary or other considerations with or without the consent of the person subjected to trafficking।

See handout for some other definition on trafficking by United Nations Development fund for women (UNIFEM) Working Definition; Global Alliance against Traffic in women (GAATW) definition; and save the Children Alliance’s Working definition.

Explanation of specific terms/concepts


Many trafficking cases involve a process of recruitment though agencies that organize and “facilitate” the process of travel from one country to anther. Some agencies are legitimate, while others use deceit to recruit persons for the purposes of trafficking.

Transportation with in and across borders…..

Some form of physical movement or transportation is needed for trafficking to occur. The movement often occurs between different countries, but can occur without the crossing of international borders. In either case, the victims are moved to an unfamiliar place, far from home and under the control of the traffickers.

….through legal or illegal channels of migration:

Trafficking can occur whether people are moved by legal or illegal means. Migrants with legitimate visas, who entered a country legally, often get trafficked that they realize only at destination where they get deceived and had not agreed to the conditions of work they are made to settle for. Marriage and adoptions are two most commonly used “legal channels” for trafficking.

Purchase, sale. Transfer, receipt or harboring of a person:

Traffickers use one or more of these action when they move the trafficked person from the place of origin to the place of destination.


Trafficked persons are usually tricked into their vulnerable situation. They are offered or promised further education, marriage or a well-paid job and end up in forced labor or a forced marriage. However, if a women is trafficked into prostitution, she may know she is going to work in the sex industry, but not that she is going to be deprived of her liberty or her earnings. This is still trafficking. In most cases traffickers deceive trafficked persons about the condition under which they will be forced to live and/or work.

Coercion(including the use of threat of force or the abuse of authority)….

Some traffickers may use force to abduct a victim a victim and others use violence or blackmail to keep a trafficked person under their control. Trafficked persons are dependent upon the traffickers for food, clothing and housing and must submit to the demands of their captors. Traffickers usually restrict a victim’s freedom of movement or prohibit victims from leaving the premises without an escort. Coercion may also be psychological. Abuse of authority involves dependency situations in which a person who has power over another person(such as a relative or employer) denies the rights of the dependent person.

….or debt bondage

Many trafficking persons are forced into a debt-bondage situation, in which once at the destination they are told they will have to work to pay back a large and increasing sum for travel expenses, housing, clothing, medical and food expenses. Traffickers have full control over their employee’s movement and their income. The victim is never able to pay back the extraordinarily high debt, but the trafficker tells her the debt will be paid off “soon” Trafficked persons, who are anxious to start earning money, believe the lie and continue to submit to their conditions in the hope that the debt will soon be paid off and they will start earning money. However, the traffickers continually find new (fictitious) expenses to charge and the payoff date continues to be postponed

Servitude (domestic, sexual or reproductive),in forced o0r bonded labor, or in slavery like conditions:

Many women are trafficked into situations not strictly involving forced labor or slavery (by legal definition). In some cases women are trafficked into forced or servants and others may simply be held captive.

The core element of trafficking is the coercive and abusive conditions into which the trafficker intends to place his/her victim. Forced labor. Servitude and slavery are all crimes prohibited as human rights violations in international law. They cover all situations in to which people are trafficked. The kind of business or service into which a person is trafficked does not dictate whether or not trafficking occurred. People are trafficked for many types of situations, such as domestic, manual or industrial work in formal or informal sectors or marriage or other kinds of relationship. It is coercive conditions/relations in these situations that constitute ‘trafficking’.

Community other than the one in which such persons lived at the time of the original deception, coercion or debt bondage(concept included in the Trafficking Protocol):

In the context if trafficking, victims are moved into foreign communities। They are isolated from their families and something their language and, thus, rendered even more dependent upon the traffickers for food, shelter, information and “protection” from authorities.

Some other Definitions of trafficking

United Nations Development Fund for women (UNIFEM) Working Definition

All acts and attempted acts involved in the recruitment, transportation, within or across borders, purchase, sale. Transfer, receipt or harboring of a person involving the use of deception, coercion, or debt bondage for the purpose of placing or holding such persons, whether for pay or not, in involuntary domestic, sexual servitude, slavery, in forced or bonded labor, or in slavery like conditions in a community other then the one in which the person lived at the time of the deception, coercion or debt bondage.”

Global Alliance against Traffic in Women (GAATW) definition

All acts and attempted acts involved in the recruitment, transportation, within or across borders, purchase, sale. Transfer, receipt or harboring of a person involving the use of deception, and coercion, including the use or threat of force or the abuse of authority or debt bondage for the purpose of placing or holding such person, whether for pay or not, in involuntary servitude (domestic, sexual or reproductive), in forced or bonded labour,or in slave-like conditions, in a community other then the one in which such person lived at the time of the original deception, coercion or debt bondage.

Save the children alliance’s working definition

All acts of recruitment, transportation, purchases, sale transfer, receipt or harboring of a person including a child(as defined by the United Nation Convention on the right of the child and/or the applicable national laws of states parties) within or across borders that involve the use of deception, coercion (including the use or threat of force or the abuse of authority) or debt bondage, whether or not any payment is given or received, for the purpose of placing or holding such person in involuntary servery-like condition or for false adoption.

Working Definition of campaign Against Child Trafficking (CACT) adapting the Palermo Protocol

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons below the age of 18 years, within or across borders, legally or illegally, by means of threat or use of other forms of coercion, of abduction, of the abuse of power or of position of vulnerability or, of the giving or receiving of payment or benefits to achieve to achieve the consent of such person, with the intention or knowledge that is likely to cases or; lead too exploitation.

The words ‘legally or illegally’ were inserted by CACT to cover all forms and purposes of trafficking in children be it marriage that is valid or adoption that has met all legal procedures and formalities. This definition further extended to cover both organized transnational and national crime, make it more comprehensive.

1.2 overview of the problem

1.2.1 Statistics

  • There are an estimated two million children, aged between 5 and 15, forced in to CSE around the world.
  • Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years are most vulnerable.
  • 15% of commercial sexual workers in India are believed to be below 15 years old and 25% are estimated to be between the ages of 15 and 18.
  • 500,000 children worldwide are forced in to this profession every year[1].

Over the last decade, many studies were carried out in an effort to collect reliable statistics on trafficking and CSE. In a survey conducted in 1992, by the center Social Welfare board, on metro-based prostitution, forty percent of the sex workers stated that they had entered the sex trade when they were under the age of 18[2].Another study estimated that 300,000 – 400,000 children in India are victims of CSE[3]. Research on girls child prostitution in India, conducted prior to 2001, estimated that 24 lakh women in prostitution lived in the red light areas with 52 lakh children. This study further pointed out that 45 percent of the girls belonged to the category of neglected juveniles at the time of their entry in to the profession[4].

Research on cross-border trafficking has indicated that 5,000-7,000 young Nepali girls were trafficking in to India annually. This research also highlighted the fact that in the last decade, the average age of the trafficked girl has steadily fallen from 14 to 16 years to 10 to 14 years[5]. These findings are supported by studies conducted by human rights Watch – Asia in 1995, which stated that the average age of Nepali girls trafficked in to India dropped from 14 to 16 years in the 1980s to 10 to 14 years in 1991 despite the introduction of laws designed to combat trafficking of minors. Ghosh’s study estimated that Nepali children constitute 20 per cent (40,000) of the approximately 200, 000 Nepalese commercial sexual workers in India[6]. Young girls are trafficking from economically depressed neighborhoods in Nepal and Bangladesh to the major prostitution centers of Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta. Social workers have reported encountering children as young as nine in kamathipura, a red light area in Mumbai[7].

Other studies conducted prior to 2000; reveal that approximately 20 percent of the women in prostitution in Mumbai are under 18 years of age[8]. Jean D’ Cunha[9] quotes from a report by the Central Advisory Committee on child Prostitution, which states that there are approximately 100,000 women in prostitution in Mumbai, 15 percent of whom are less than 15 years of age and 24.5 percent of whom are between the ages of 16 and 18. Another study of young sex workers and young daughters of sex workers in the kamatipura, a red-light area in Mumbai revealed that 19of the 31 sex workers who participated in the study claimed that their ages ranged from 17 – 19 years, while the remaining twelve claimed that they were between 20-22 years. The report indicated that there was a possibility that the girls provided incorrect information regarding their ages since they were aware that it was illegal for minors to be involved in commercial sexual activities and that their statements could get the brothel owners arrested for trafficking in children. Further, a radiological examination og the girls rescued in the 1996 raids revealed that of the 487 girls rescued, 422 were minors.

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a major global industry and researchers suggest that it generates up to us s billion world wide. The income earned by this industry through trafficking, sex tourism and pornography is second only to that generated by the smuggling of drugs and arms. sources have suggested that in India it accounts for Rs 11,000 crore of the Rs 40,000 crore commercial sex industry.

Why do we fall prey to trafficking?

Economic causes: poverty, globalization, increased oriented growth, growing consumerism, unemployment, lack of opportunities in rural areas.

Triggering factors : family disintegration, conflict, getting away from hard situation, ex: affected by natural disaster, personal loss of spouse, of parent, of parent, of bread winner

Contributory factors:

Literacy poor education lack of awareness (trafficking, HIV), lack of legal knowledge, no access to health care lack of knowledge and access to government welfare schemes, lack of political will or commitment, corruption, lack of sensitized midis lack of effective NGO network at grass root level।

Why are women and girls more vulnerable to trafficking?

Factors contributing to demand (Pull Factors)

Factors contributing to supply (push Factors)

Women’s perceived suitability for work in labor-intensive production and the growing informal sector employment, hazardous work conditions…

Unequal access to education that limits woman’s impunities their earnings in more skilled occupations

The increasing demand for foreign workers for domestic and care -giving roles, and lack of adequate regulatory frameworks to support this

Lack of legitimate and fulfilling employment opportunities particularly in rural communities

The growth of the billion-dollar sex and entertainment industry

Less access to information on migration/job opportunities recruitment channels, and a greater lack of awareness of the risks of migration compared to men

The low risk – high profit nature of trafficking encouraged by a lack of will on the part of inforcement agencies to prosecute traffickers

Disruption of support systems due to natural and human created catastrophes

The ease in controlling and manipulating vulnerable women

Traditional community attitudes and practices, witch tolerate violence against women

Purposes of trafficking

A large of them are forced into commercial sexual exploitation

For domestic help

For working in the unorganized sector (mines, brick fields, garment)

For camel jockeying

For organ transplantation

Child / forced marriages

For adoption

Begging Rackets

Sex Tourism

Other forms of exploitative activities

Who are trafficked?

Marginalized and vulnerable women and children – both boys and girls are the key target groups

Communities or individuals….

With limited and / or no access to any kind of economic resources

Who are illiterate or with very low levels of education

Who are forced to migrate either for job or marriage

Who have come from other countries and are undocumented

And …….

Young children who run away from home

Persons who belong to communities where girls are traditionally forced into prostitution (Media community, Devadasi system)

Children living in the street and on railway platforms

Who will traffic child or woman?



Trussed friend


Local government official

Law enforcement officer

Sub agents


Strangers: auto rickshaw driver, Bus driver, bus conductor, person at bus stands rich people from the city

Definition of “trafficker” by SAARC

Trafficker means person, agencies, or institutions engaged in any from of trafficking

The actors in the trafficking cycle

The different forms of trafficking exist at the hand wide variety of actors:

Private actors: the network that facilitate and maintain trafficking can involve a variety of private sector including transportation, tourism, media/communication, entertainment and legal

Taxi drivers, rickshaws drivers, truck drivers, who participate in the movement.(internet)

Hotels and motels, are often used and as “safe- house”

The legal profession has been implicated in trafficking activities by arranging false documentation

Public actors: immigration police, other civil servants aid trafficker

Example arranging false documentations, arranging for illegal border crossing, protecting bars and brothel owners from investigations

Clients: the root cause of trafficking is demand from the client

[1] Statistics provided by Cry, March 1999

[2] Fernandes.G. and Ray S.C.., 2001

[3] ECPAT-1995

[4] Desai.M., 2001

[5] Ghosh, S.K., 1996

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] SOS,2001.

[9] The Times of India Review, 22 January 1995

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