Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons or modern-day slavery, is a crime that involves the exploitation of a person for compelled labour or a commercial sex act. The initial consent by a person will be irrelevant if it was obtained employing fraud, deception or coercion. A child cannot consent to be trafficked. Transporting a child into exploitative conditions constitutes trafficking. Trafficked women are typically acquired by kidnapping, purchase, or lured with false incentives for jobs and a better life. Once caught up in the sex trafficking industry, women and children find themselves in situations of forced prostitution, sweatshop labour, or exploitative domestic servitude. Trafficking in persons should be understood as a process rather than as a single offence. It need not involve the crossing of borders it can occur within a country. 

Reasons and Impact of Human Trafficking

  1. POVERTY Makes people more desperate and vulnerable to exploitation.
  2. DEMAND For commercial sex in Ireland; ‘sex tourism’, often involving children, in other countries
  3. PORNOGRAPHY Desensitises people to sexual objectification dehumanises women and distorts men’s attitudes towards, and expectations of, sex. 
  4. PROFIT One of the most lucrative illegal trades, along with drugs and weapons.
  5. GENDER INEQUALITY Sexual objectification of women and girls in our society. The ‘girl-child’ seen as less valuable in some cultures. Selling of girls by parents.

Impacts of sex trafficking on the victim 

  1. Lack of trust; anger; sadness; fear; insecurity; shame; guilt; confusion; depression; terror; a sense of helplessness; Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) – flashbacks, reminders, poor sleep patterns, etc. 
  2. Sexually transmitted diseases 
  3. Pregnancy

Constitutional and Legislative Provision in India

Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India

Article 23– Protects against exploitation, prohibits traffic in humans and beggar and makes this practice punishable under law.

Article 24– protects children below age 14 from working in factories, mines or other hazardous employment.

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking including trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude, or the forced removal of organs.

Information Technology Act, 2000

The act penalises transmission of any such material in electronic form which is inappropriate and lascivious. This act also addresses the problem of pornography.

Section 67A– Punishes publication or transmission of material containing sexually explicit act in electronic form.

Section 68B– Punishes publication or transmission of material depicting children in the sexually explicit act in electronic form.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 

The law is relevant for children who are vulnerable and are therefore likely to be the victim of trafficking. It protects juveniles in need of care and protection. 

Goa Children’s Act, 2003

This act is defined precisely in trafficking and it includes every type of sexual exploitation in the definition of sexual assault. Manager and owner of the premises are responsible for the safety of minors or children in hotel premises. There are strict laws on about the safety of children and publishing pornographic materials. 

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

POCSO Act, 2012, which has come into effect from 14th November 2012 is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. It provides precise definitions for different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment.

There are other specific legislation enacted relating to trafficking in women and children Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, apart from specific Sections in the IPC, e.g. Sections 372 and 373 dealing with selling and buying of girls for prostitution.

State Governments have also enacted specific legislation to deal with the issue. (The Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012).

Measures taken by the Indian Government

Intending to tackle the menace of human trafficking, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India has undertaken several measures such as:

Administrative measures and interventions

Anti-Trafficking Cell (ATC)

It was set up in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2006 to act as a focal point for communicating various decisions and follow up on action taken by the State Governments to combat the crime of Human Trafficking.


To improve the effectiveness in tackling the crime of human trafficking and to increase the responsiveness of the law enforcement machinery, MHA has issued comprehensive advisories to all States/UTs:

Ministry of Home Affairs’ scheme

Ministry of Home Affairs under a Comprehensive Scheme strengthening law enforcement response in India against Trafficking in Persons through Training and Capacity Building has released fund for the establishment of Anti Human Trafficking Units for 270 districts of the country.

Strengthening the capacity building

To enhance the capacity building of law enforcement agencies and generate awareness among them, various Training of Trainers (TOT) workshops on combating Trafficking in Human Beings for Police officers and Prosecutors at Regional level, State level and District level were held throughout the country.

Judicial Colloquium

To train and sensitize the trial court judicial officers, Judicial Colloquium on human trafficking are held at the High court level to sensitize the judicial officers about the various issues concerning human trafficking and to ensure speedy court process. So far, 11Judicial Colloquiums have been held.


Human Trafficking happens in nearly every country in the world, developing or developed countries. We are now living in a world where human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal offence. 75% of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation and are female. And over 50% of all its victims are children. These individuals are forced to work every single day without pay, under threat of violence, and they’re unable to walk away. It is a violation of the fundamental human rights of the victim and affects the normal functioning of people in society. It is a global issue that must be addressed by all. We should do our bit as individuals, families, communities and the larger society to fight and eliminate this evil in our society and the world.

This article is written by Gaurav Lall pursuing BBA LL.B. (Hons.) at United World School of Law.

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