måndag 4 augusti 2014

Trafficking in Karnataka, India

Girl in Koramangala area.
The Government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. However, it is making significant efforts to do so. As mentioned in the U.S. Department of State's trafficking report, India is not only a source, but also a transit and destination country for trafficking. [1]

The ‘welfare state’ in India has developed over the years in a complex interplay between social, historical, political, economical and cultural factors, which is important to remember. Despite being the world’s fourth biggest economy (measured in PPP) over 260 million people live below the poverty line. [2] Reform processes have widely transformed the economic landscape of the country over the years, however, the benefits of economic growth has not reached different parts of society in an equitable way. According to scholars, such as Brysk and Maskey, [3] globalization have resulted in South Asia, and India, becoming a low-cost, labour-intensive production centre.

Brysk and Maskey [4] argues that surprisingly little international attention has been paid to human trafficking in India, although the country represents one-sixth of the world’s population and is well-known to suffer from modern forms of slavery. One reason trafficking in India is relatively invisible is that it is mostly regional and domestic (90% of trafficking in India is domestic). Another reason India’s trafficking is overlooked is that India is a rapidly globalizing democracy in which rising social inequality is increasing the ‘citizenship gap’ between rights in theory and in practice for many marginalized groups. Old traditions and gender inequality is also exacerbating women’s vulnerability to sexual exploitation. In India, corruption also undermines protection of women.

Nair and Sen [5] argues that while there are efforts to prevent trafficking at the source areas, there is hardly any efforts at the destination areas. And even if there are initiatives, it is often noticed that the interventions come to a halt after rescue operations. According to Brysk and Maskey [6] research has shown that rehabilitation measures in India are not adequate and that not all rescued victims receive rehabilitative services. Because of inadequate rehabilitation and reintegration measures, many rescued victims are also re-trafficked.

Sex trafficking is increasing in India, as well as in the State of Karnataka. It is argued by P.M Nair (one of India’s most prominent trafficking experts) that the economic boom has increased the demand for sexual services and increased the level of migrant workers, leading to a resultant increase in the supply of victims. According to news reports [7] Karnataka has turned out to be a hotspot destination for human trafficking.

In Karnataka, sexually exploited victims can receive help under ‘the Ujjawala Scheme’, which seeks, for example, to protect and rehabilitate female sex trafficked victims. As mentioned in U.S. Department of State's trafficking report[8], corruption has led to the closure of many homes under the Ujjawala Scheme. The lack of government oversight and monitoring of these shelters has led to much criticism, particularly as several cases of abuse have been discovered. Shelters have also been overcrowded and unhygienic, offered poor food, and provided limited, if any, services.

The research that I undertook (which focused on protection services and foremost rehabilitative homes for sex trafficked victims) seemed crucial in order to establish what services that actually were available, as well as needs and gaps, in terms of victim support. In the outlooks of it, it seems as though the civil society has a function as a welfare producer with a distinct role. If there is a lack of recognition and assistance from the state, the surrounding community as well as the private sector, then there will not be a sufficient victim support system in place.

[1]. U.S. Department of State (2013). Trafficking in Persons Report 2013. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. June, 2013. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State Publication. 
[2]. The World Bank (2013). India overview. Retrieved: 2013-09-26. Retrieved from: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/india/overview.
[3]. Brysk, A. Maskey, A (2012). Global Dialogue. Rethinking Trafficking: Patriarchy, Poverty, and Private Wrongs in India. 14 (2), 42-50.
[4]. Ibid.
[5].  Nair, P. M. Sen, S (2007). 3rd Ed. ISS/ NHRC/ UNIFEM. Trafficking in Women
and Children in India. New Delhi: Orient Longman.
[6]. Ibid.
[7]. Dev, A (2013). In India, Karnataka stands third in human trafficking. Times of India. 5 Nov 2013. Kumar, S (2012). Women and child trafficking on the rise in Karnataka. TheTimes of India. 30 July, 2012.
[8]. Ibid.

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