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COVID 19: THE CATALYST OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Author: Avinash Kumar, I year of B.A.,LL.B. from Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala


Human life is a beautiful gift by God and anyone who deteriorates the condition of this magnanimous present should not be exempted at all. Human traffickers are some of those people who undermine the value of the life of other people and make it only the mere medium of their mean profit-making trap.


HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND RESPONSIBILITY OF THE STATE

Not only the law of God but also the man-made law declares it a duty of the state to stop this heinous trap of Human trafficking; The Article 1 of ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ by the United Nations states that-

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.[i]

The term ‘Born free’ puts liability on the state to ensure the freedom of an individual throughout his life. Article 21 of the Constitution of India also puts a responsibility on the state to ensure the right of life and his liberty to not only its citizens but also to every person[ii]. In the case of Maneka Gandhi v. UOI, the Supreme court of India held that the right to life also envisages the right to live with human dignity.[iii] So, it is the responsibility and liability of the state to maintain the dignity of human life and curb this malpractice.


ANALYSIS OF TRAFFICKING

Human trafficking is the result of certain factors both from the side of the criminal and also from the side of the victim. Some of the prominent factors are-

  • Poverty; sometimes the family of the victim is so hapless by the wave of poverty that they even decide to sell the victim to maintain their existence in the world.

  • Joblessness of the victim or her family.

  • Pathetic condition of the women due to desertion; the elderly women or the widows are often deserted by their family, it took them to be a prey of the traffickers.

  • Education of the victim is another factor as an uneducated person would be more likely to fall prey to trafficking because of her joblessness

  • Fraud by the traffickers; the traffickers sometimes marry the victim posing as lovers and later on they turn out to be the worst nightmare of the victim. Sometimes the traffickers lure the victim by giving them advances before the job.

  • The conflict between communities; there are instances where the people from a particular sect enslave the people from their conflicting community. One of the prominent examples of this was the case of Kocho in Iraq (2014) where the militants of ISIS captured the whole ‘Yazidi’ village to show their distaste and superiority over the ‘Yazidi’ community. Later on, over 600 men were killed by the militants, and all the women (including the 2018 Nobel Peace laureate Nadia Murad) were converted into sex slaves.[iv]Commercial surrogacy; the women are often exploited to bear the fetus of some rich person in her womb. This is done because of the haplessness of the commercial surrogate mothers. The government of India even brought ‘Surrogacy (regulation) Act 2020 which prohibits commercial surrogacy in India. [v]


Apart from these factors, trafficking has some significant features. This type of crime is not restricted to a particular region or country, it dramatically happens across the globe, the progression status of a country also does not stop the crime. The thorny web of trafficking is equally distributed across the globe, no matter how rich a country is. Another feature is that this is a very organised crime that happens with great coordination between the criminals across the state and sometimes across the country. So, it is an arduous task for the authorities to follow the link of the crime. The network of these crimes has its root so deeply embedded in the system; the network is backed by different people of the society some of them are even part of the system. This crime even attracts less media coverage because of some prejudiced interest of the Media. If the national aspect of this problem is seen, India is one of the worst affected nations of this problem. In India, trafficking is mainly done for these three reasons. Firstly, for converting the trafficked girls into sex slaves and gaining wealth at the cost of the dignity of the victim. Secondly, people are trafficked for organ donation. Lastly, the victim is thrown into the dingy spaces of forced labour. The Indo-Nepal border is one of the hubs of trafficking Nepali girls into India. Former UP DGP, Dr. Vikram Singh in an interview with RSTV mentioned that Varanasi airport witnesses so many incidents of Trafficking of Nepali girls in India.[vi]


THE CATALYST

The UNODC pointed out that the COVID-19 increased the risk of human trafficking across the globe.[vii] As the pandemic causes the economic conditions of millions of people to be destabilized and such pathetic conditions led them to be prey to even worsened trafficking racket. The pandemic also causes the closure of so many schools throughout the earth. The UNESCO states that the closure of schools and up-gradation of technology caused increased vulnerability of the children in 194 countries and online their exploitation.[viii] The traffickers even find a window in the concept of Social Distancing where they use the technology and internet to exploit the victim and find their target. The stoppage of mobility makes the work of the authorities even more difficult to trace down the victim and extend the helping hand. The immobility also causes the conditions of the victim to be even deteriorated and make them confined into a particular place. The traffickers do not care about the health of the victims they only want to pump out the money from every drop of the victim’s blood, so the pandemic causes the emotional as well as the physical breakdown of the victims. Even the victims who are saved by the authorities from the claws of the traffickers noted down the emotional breakdown due to the home isolation and social distancing. So, the pandemic only increased the despair of the victims of trafficking.


SOLUTION

As it was discussed that this problem is because of an organised network so the solution also should be something very much planned and organised. All the organs of the system have to work in unison to combat this devil. The prominent method to combat this issue should be spreading awareness amongst the people of the society and the media should pick up the charge of this issue and present it to every stratum of the society to narrow down the loophole of the system. The police and NGOs should work hand in hand to restrict the overreach of this devil to the different portions of society. There should be proper coordination between the ministries, as it is not in the hands of any particular ministry to combat this issue. The coordination should not only be between the ministries but also it should be there between two countries; for example, Indian girls are often sent to the gulf nations. So, the Indian government should coordinate with the Government of the gulf country and stop this evil network. One of the main concerns is rehabilitation, it is of utmost importance to provide rehabilitation to the victim and stop their revictimization. As the survivors of these rackets are badly traced by the traffickers in addition to that they have no place to go after escape from that hell. So, the government should provide proper rehabilitation centres to the survivors. Therefore, the need of the hour is the collective fight against this evil to make all its roots hollow and uprooted.


[i]https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights

[ii]https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1199182/

[iii]https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1766147/

[iv]https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/2018/murad/facts/

[v]https://prsindia.org/billtrack/the-surrogacy-regulation-bill-2019

[vi]https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1825&v=Js5C1ulosuA&feature=emb_logo

[vii]https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/02/1083542

[viii]https://www.acamstoday.org/human-trafficking-in-the-era-of-covid-19-2/