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India (Tier 2 Watch List).

India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced or bonded labor and commercial sexual exploitation. The large population of men, women, and children--numbering in the millions--in debt bondage face involuntary servitude in brick kilns, rice mills, and zari embroidery factories. Some children endure involuntary servitude as domestic servants. Internal trafficking of women and girls for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage also occurs. The Ministry of Home Affairs estimates that 90 percent of India's sex trafficking is internal. India is also a destination for women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. In addition, boys from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are trafficked through India to the Gulf states for involuntary servitude as child camel jockeys. Reportedly, Bangladeshi women are trafficked through India for sexual exploitation in Pakistan. Moreover, Indian men and women migrate willingly to the Gulf for work as domestic servants and low-skilled laborers, but some later find themselves in situations of involuntary servitude including extended working hours, nonpayment of wages, restrictions on their movement by withholding of their passports or confinement to the home, and physical or sexual abuse.

The Government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. India is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year due to its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking in persons. India lacks a national law enforcement response to any form of trafficking, but took some preliminary measures to create a central law enforcement unit to do so. However, India did not take steps to address the huge issue of bonded labor and other forms of involuntary servitude. The Indian Government also did not take meaningful steps to address its sizeable trafficking-related corruption problem.

The government drafted, but had not yet introduced to parliament, amendments to the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) that would afford greater protection to sex trafficking victims and stricter penalties for their traffickers and for clients of prostitution. The central government also further empowered the coordination office for anti-trafficking, elevating the stature of the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) by creating a Minister of State for Women and Child Development (MWCD). India should consider designating and empowering a national law enforcement agency with investigative and prosecutorial jurisdiction throughout the country to address its interstate and international trafficking problem. The government should similarly consider taking greater measures to rescue and protect victims of bonded labor and to prosecute their traffickers or employers, giving them punishments sufficiently stringent to deter and that adequately reflect the nature of the heinous crime of trafficking. It is particularly important to strengthen and enforce sentences applied to individuals convicted of exploiting bonded laborers. India should also improve its long-term protection of trafficking victims and institute nation-wide public awareness programs to educate all segments of the population on the dangers of trafficking.


The Government of India over the last year sustained modest efforts to punish trafficking crimes; however, there were no significant improvements. The government's laws criminalizing labor forms of trafficking such as bonded labor or forced child labor prescribe no more than three years' imprisonment. The government, at all relevant levels, neither vigorously investigated nor prosecuted acts of any form of trafficking found in India, nor did it report a significant number of convictions or sentences for these acts of trafficking. Moreover, there were no reports of government efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, or sentence public officials who participated in or facilitated trafficking in persons crimes.

Although India's Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) adequately criminalizes and prescribes punishment for trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, this law was generally not used for effective prosecutions of trafficking in most of the country. The central government has moved forward, however, with amendments to the ITPA aimed at increasing penalties for repeat traffickers and clients of prostitution and eliminating provisions used to punish victims of trafficking. In 2004, the central government reported 6,341 persons convicted under the ITPA, but it did not provide data as to how many of these were convictions of women in prostitution for the offense of solicitation. The Government of India did not provide comprehensive statistics for the number of investigations, arrests, prosecutions, or convictions achieved during 2005 to punish traffickers for commercial sexual exploitation.

Separately, independent sources report that the municipal government of Mumbai--India's largest city and largest concentration of victims of commercial sexual exploitation--arrested 13 suspected sex traffickers in 2005, but did not prosecute or convict any traffickers. Similarly, the city governments of Calcutta and Chennai registered 25 and 109 arrests of sex traffickers respectively, but provided no indication that these cases were ever prosecuted. The state of Maharashtra reported 82 prosecutions of trafficking offenses and the conviction of eight traffickers in 2004.

During the year, little progress was made in combating trafficking of persons for the purpose of labor exploitation. Despite estimates that millions of men, women, and children are victims of forced labor and bonded labor, the government provided no indication that the perpetrators of these crimes were seriously punished. The Bonded Labor Abolition Act of 1976 criminalizes the use of the bonded labor system with penalties including up to three years in jail and 2,000 rupees ($45) in fines. International NGOs and the ILO estimate that there are 10 to 40 million bonded laborers in India; the Government of India did not provide an estimate. Moreover, it did not provide any data on prosecutions or convictions for bonded labor offenses for the reporting period. Independent sources report some prosecutions and convictions in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, with punishments limited to fines.

The Child Labor and Juvenile Justice Acts prohibit the labor exploitation of children. Under the Child Labor Act, employers are subject to imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of at least 10,000 rupees ($227) for forced child labor. The Juvenile Justice Act mandates imprisonment of three years or less for forced or bonded labor of children. In November, the Delhi police rescued 694 children caught in forced labor in zari embroidery factories and over 16,000 children were reportedly rescued from workshops in Mumbai between June and September 2005. These local governments, however, provided no information regarding arrests or prosecutions of the factory owners exploiting these children.

In the last year, the Government of India took steps to implement a nationwide police training program on trafficking. The Bureau of Police Research and Development began preparing a national anti-trafficking training module for investigative officers, and it conducted seven training workshops around the country in 2005. This nascent training program, aimed to sensitize law enforcement officers to trafficking for sexual or labor exploitation, will assist state and national level law enforcement authorities in preventing corruption and improving their capacity to combat trafficking. In addition, India should consider instituting a comprehensive database to compile state level statistics related to the rescue of victims of sex trafficking and forced or bonded labor, as well as the arrest and prosecution of their traffickers or exploiters.

Endemic corruption among law enforcement officials impedes India's ability to effectively combat trafficking in persons. In terms of trafficking for sexual exploitation, corrupt law enforcement authorities reportedly continue to facilitate the movement of trafficking victims, protect brothels that exploit victims, and protect traffickers and brothel keepers from arrest or other threats of enforcement. In the area of bonded labor and forced child labor, some corrupt police officials continued to protect businesses and managers who rely on forced labor, and take bribes to stop enforcement or judicial action. During the reporting period, there were no reports concerning the Government of India's steps to address official complicity in trafficking in persons.


The Government of India continues to provide inadequate and uneven assistance to the vast majority of trafficking victims. Existing national programs to provide protection and rehabilitation to victims of sex trafficking, forced child labor, or bonded labor were not implemented effectively in some areas. Some of India's 28 states, however, showed resolve in addressing victims' needs. For example, the state of Tamil Nadu operates five shelters for women and girls, including victims of trafficking, and the government of Andhra Pradesh state runs six similar homes. The state government of Maharashtra is expanding the capacity of its existing Mumbai shelter. Government shelters are found in all major cites, but the quality of care they offer varies widely; allegations of victims further exploited in government shelters have been reported. The Government of India relies heavily on NGOs to provide certain services to assist victims. Child Welfare Committees operate in each district of each state to protect child victims of trafficking; they often refer such victims to local NGOs for care. The Government of India continues to provide funding to NGOs to build shelters for victims of trafficking under its Swadhar Scheme, although some NGOs have charged that the implementation of this program has been marked by inefficiency and corruption.

Overall, protection for victims of trafficking is weak with regard to comprehensive care. Many shelters do not have the capacity to provide protection to trafficking victims for more than a few months, leaving some victims vulnerable to re-trafficking once they leave the shelters. In addition, victim witnesses rarely receive adequate protection to prevent retribution from their traffickers. For those trafficked from other countries, repatriation assistance is sparse. Anecdotal information suggests that victims are accompanied to the border without sufficient reintegration aid, rendering them susceptible to re-trafficking. Victims of bonded labor are provided 20,000 rupees ($450) co-funded by the national and state governments upon their rescue, but this program of rehabilitation is unevenly implemented across the country; it is unclear whether state or local governments afford other services to bonded labor victims.

The government can improve its protection efforts by instituting short- or long-term care as appropriate for trafficking victims, as well as shelter facilities to assist them. The repatriation process should be improved to ensure that victims are sufficiently reintegrated and programs to protect witnesses are established that will adequately safeguard victims from retribution. To protect Indian nationals trafficked abroad, the government should consider training overseas diplomatic officials in identifying and assisting trafficking victims caught in involuntary servitude.


India's efforts to prevent trafficking in persons were limited this year. To address the issue of bride trafficking, the government instituted public awareness programs to educate parents on the laws against sex-selective abortions and infanticide causing gender imbalance in parts of India and driving the demand for purchased brides. The newly created MWCD has continued the past work of the DCWD in hosting quarterly meetings with other government agencies and local NGOs to share anti-trafficking ideas and facilitate cooperation on preventing trafficking in persons. The government also aimed to prevent child labor by offering financial incentives to parents to keep their children in school.

Nevertheless, the central government was unable to guard its long, porous borders with Bangladesh and Nepal through which several thousand trafficking victims reportedly enter India each year. The government did not take adequate measures to prevent internal trafficking for sexual exploitation or involuntary servitude despite the prevalence of such trafficking to major cities, and increasingly in smaller cities and suburbs. The Government of India also did not institute a broad public awareness campaign to notify the public of the consequences of engaging in trafficking crimes. India should increase awareness of trafficking issues in rural areas where there is a high risk of trafficking. India should also better monitor its borders to interdict trafficking victims and trafficking rings. In addition, the government should also consider offering training for men and women traveling overseas for employment, to avoid situations of involuntary servitude abroad.
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Title Annotation:Country Narratives; human trafficking
Publication:Trafficking in Persons
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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