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This article is written by Rohit Raj, a student currently pursuing B.A.LLB.(Hons.) from Lloyd Law College. This is an exhaustive article which deals and analyzes the concept of Human and Bride Trafficking and its impacts on the economy. 


“On the question of comfort women, when my thought goes to these people, who have been victimized by human trafficking and gone through immeasurable pain and suffering beyond description, my heart suffers. And on this point, my thought has not changed at all from previous prime ministers.”                                                       

 – Shinzo Abe 

Trafficking in women and children is something which is the most detestable violation of human rights and is considered as heinous towards the life of people. A lot of crimes are taking place but trading in human misery is ghastly in respect of other crimes taking place. Human trafficking is a complex process during which the victims pass through a number of different stages (recruitment, transportation, exploitation, and disposal) possibly in different countries. Trafficking is the violation of human rights which keeps the persons at an edge of danger or at risk of being exploited. Restriction from movement, deprivation of security and self-preservation, deprivation of healthcare facilities, education and banning social restriction, all these come under the human rights violation. 

Bride Trafficking is not something new but is considered as a part of human trafficking. Bride trafficking is another face or another part of trafficking which arises after the progression of human trafficking. In this era, where women have the right to choose their lifestyle, choose their life partner, there are also some women who are deprived of their rights and forcefully entered into the practice of selling into marriage against their wishes. Bride trafficking is not a narrow concept; actually, bride trafficking is an inter-country and intra-country phenomenon and considered as a part of Human trafficking.
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Human Trafficking as a Concept

Human Trafficking means the trading of humans for a particular purpose i.e. forced labour, sex slavery, and sexual exploitation for commercial purposes. It is not something which evolves suddenly; its origin is in itself a long history. Slavery had been in existence since 1200 years and was considered as a common form of everyday life globally.

However, in the 1400s, it showed the start or beginning of European slave trading in Africa with the Portuguese transporting people from Africa to Portugal and using them for the purpose of slavery. In a later period, Britain and many other European nations joined in the practice of European slavery. 

As some were trafficking to carry out their fulfilment of sexual desire and for sexual purposes, the trafficking carried out was known or recognized by the term ‘white slavery’. And for releasing the slaves, an American charity organization of Anti-Slavery International, was launched in the United States and till now it is considered as the most successful and influential movement in history. 

Although combating Human trafficking is always a  growing priority for many national governments, but due to the absence of a sufficient amount of database regarding the trafficking in a particular country or at a global level, it is still a growing priority which many of the governments are unable to achieve.

The United Nations defines Human trafficking as:

Human trafficking is a process of recruiting, transporting or receiving forced labour by the use of threat or force, coercion, or giving and receiving payment for the purpose of giving or taking control over the forced labour in order to exploit that person for their own satisfaction.

If we see different countries in terms of human trafficking, India is not fully prone to it but it is getting prone to Human trafficking at a rapid pace.

San Francisco has been considered a prime destination for human trafficking and if we look at the reason behind considering San Franciso a prime destination it is due to the availability of a large number of ports, airports, industry, and immigrant populations near San Franciso. 

If we look at the report of the South Asian Workshop on Trafficking in Women and Children, ‘It is important to distinguish between different forms of trafficking in terms of the final use of that form of commodity. This distinction is necessary to understand because many people get confused with trans-boundary migration and trafficking. It is not considered useful to undertake and discuss the internal and trans-boundary migration of people under a single term like “trafficking”. It is obvious that an issue such as organ trade requires completely different types of attention than other forms of trafficking. Children and women are getting forcefully engaged as sexual slaves, but there are also cases where they are legally or illegally married to a person.’ 

Over the last few years, active participation of NGOs, government and international agencies show a clear picture of rapid widespread trafficking all over the world.

The current laws are unable to deal with this problem in a perfect manner and are unable to track the sources of trafficking.  The problem of arising trafficking issue in countries puts a lot of burden on government, national, international agencies and is particularly troubling due to   three mains issues

  • Significant definitional and clear distinction of trafficking. 
  • Lack of qualitative and quantitative data about trafficking practices.
  • Lack of interaction with the victims of trafficking if anyone has been rescued.

Human Trafficking and Economic Development

The crime of human trafficking is not new, the new thing is its global expansion and global threat. Human trafficking is now becoming a market-driven economy based on demand and supply principle, where the profits are so high and risk is low in comparison to the profit which is one of the main reasons for the enhancement of human trafficking globally. According to the report of International Labour Organization (ILO), the organized crime of trafficking is estimated to be the third-largest international criminal enterprise, generating an estimated $150 billion dollars annually. 

Human trafficking is a criminal act that violates several rules and laws of  States and endangers the economic and national security.

Trafficking the people by the illegal use of weapons, drugs that directly affect or endanger the economic and national security. However, the huge amount of profit earned by the traffickers with very minimum risk but not a single percent of that profit earned from these criminal enterprises contribute to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the nation. 

This heavy use of drugs and weapons for trafficking put a lot of burden on the economy. This continuous process of trafficking generates a large sum of income which is illegal in nature, by keeping others legitimate and well profound businesses such as tourism and hospitality in a threat that has the full potential to add up to the sum of GDP and helps in better economic development. 

According to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Report (2018), there is a strong link between human trafficking and terrorist organizations. Human trafficking within and into conflict and terrorist affected areas are primarily for domestic servitude, sexual slavery, forced armed recruitment and forced marriage.  

Human trafficking has direct and negative relationships and impacts on economic development by hindering the growth and development of the Nation. Due to the incorporation of the human trafficking as a crime, it costs for the compensation of victims, medical facilities to the victims, the protection and rehabilitation of victims, and the costs also involved the creation of livelihood opportunities for the victims.

Facets of Human Trafficking

If we look at the different aspects of human trafficking, we have come to find that there are a lot of different strata but, mainly three extensive and wider forms were found globally. The three main common types of human trafficking are – sex trafficking, forced labour and debt bondage. 

According to a survey done by the U.S. Department of State, forced labour, also known as involuntary servitude is the biggest sector of trafficking in the whole world. Debt bondage is another form in which people were forced to work, exploited and forced to pay the debt amount and this type of forms mostly found in rural areas as due to the lack of proper and suitable banking facilities, people take loans from other people and after fail in returning money in the fixed period of time they are subjected to debt bondage. 

Sex trafficking is considered a heinous crime among all forms of trafficking as it involves the participation of the women and children in commercial sex activity forcefully. Firstly, it violates Article 21, and Article 14 of the Indian Constitution and many other laws like, Trafficking Victims Protection Act, 2000 that prevail. Perceptions of human trafficking often involve women forced into prostitution and this is only one aspect of human trafficking and can be said as one aspect of sex trafficking. 

The inability to communicate about trafficking in persons prevents the exact count of the total number of victims around the world. 

But according to the various reports and available research indicates that if the victim of trafficking inside country is included in the total count of trafficking victim then the count of the victim to labour forms of trafficking is more than the sex trafficking. 

Although both sex trafficking and labour trafficking, are a separate form of human trafficking and they have a common reason to be trapped and be a victim of these human trafficking which starts with migration in search of economic activity. Neither the international definition of trafficking in persons, as defined in the 2000 UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, especially Women and Children, nor the U.S. definition of severe forms of trafficking in persons, as defined in federal law, requires the movement of the victim. Movement is not necessary. Any person who is recruited, harboured or obtained through force, coercion for the purpose of subjecting that person to forced labour qualify as a trafficking victim. 

Elements required for trafficking in persons for labour exploitation:

  • Recruitment, transportation, harbouring or receipt of persons.
  • Threat/use of force, forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerable position, giving or receiving payments or benefits in exchange for consent. 
  • Exploitation for the purpose of forced labour, slavery, practices similar to slavery or servitude. 

These three are the most essential elements required to determine whether there is actual trafficking taking place or not. If these three elements are fulfilled, then it can be inferred that trafficking has taken place

Impact on a Wider level and Different areas

The impact of human trafficking depends on the purpose of trafficking i.e. the trafficking is for sexual purpose or commercial purpose or for any other purpose. Different research also shows the impact of trafficking on victims. Victims of trafficking are often exposed to harsh physical conditions, including excessive work or the use of force by the traffickers on victims. Not only the physical and outer body condition became worst but also due to sex trafficking the sexual, as well as mental health, became in the worst condition. Sex trafficking leaves a deep impact by making the victims prone to different diseases like- HIV/ AIDS, infections and substance abuse. 

These all forms of trafficking also lead to social ostracism which clearly means detachment of victims from social circles and deprives them of their rights and duties which were assigned or provided by the Constitution and also leads to violation of different laws. 

It has not only impact on conditions of the victim but also on the economy, International relations, tourism and other parts of the Nation. 

Human Trafficking is considered a terrible, widespread and very serious issue that directly or indirectly dependent on travel and tourism networks to operate. Without a good network of travel and tourism, it is very difficult to operate a crime like trafficking. As considering it a serious issue for every country, the government of every country is trying and putting all its efforts in the direction of combating trafficking or eradicating the problem. 

The Government is taking several measures so that people should feel safe in their own country and can move freely with full safety without the concern of being trafficked across the globe. 

Today the government of the United States feels proud while launching a vital task force that comprises the world’s most powerful travel leaders from across hotels, retail, airlines, cruise, technology, finance, and destination management, and are totally committed towards preventing people from trafficking, protecting victims of trafficking. 

The vital task force keeps governments regulated so that this serious concern ends as soon as possible.

Due to the increasing and widespread human trafficking globally, the tourism industry is being affected mostly, due to the continuous threat of being trafficked and being exploited, people avoid tourism which severely affects the tourism industry. After the hit back of this industry the contribution made in GDP by this industry totally declines and overall the economic development hampers. 

Concept of Bride Trafficking 

In the current social scenario of India, women are just seen as chattels in the surroundings of a patriarchal society where men are dominant. Women are totally underestimated, with no freedom of choice and option for life with dignity. Trafficking is an inter-country and intra-country phenomenon. The formalization of marriage makes this bride trafficking most difficult for the government to check and estimate the data of bride trafficking for taking action on it. 

Bride trafficking is not as much different than sex trafficking. In bride trafficking, women are sold to another person for the purpose of marriage, to use the women as a sex object, all-time slave. In both the cases or forms of human trafficking, the main purpose for the sale and purchase of women is for sexual desire. The 2013 report commissioned by the United Nations Office on drugs and crime has reported that the organized trafficking rackets have started operating in the North Indian States like, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and many other North Indian States. 

If we look at the reasons for the trafficking that covers all forms of trafficking then it will not be shocking for all of us. The problems which were ignored by taking it for granted also leads to the trafficking under our noses and we even do not care about it. Some of the reasons highlighted are noted down.

  • Lower socio-economic condition: The lower socio-economic condition changes the mindset of people living in that condition and includes them in the crime of trafficking for more money with minimal risk.
  • Traditional religious and cultural practices: Prostitution is conventionally and ethnically sanctioned in some parts of the region and is a causal factor for the happening of trafficking.
  • Trafficking is lucrative trade – Trafficking is not new for the labour class group. People have taken indentured labour from colonial time and trafficking for other purposes is more profitable.
  • The status of women and the discriminatory laws against the women – From the very early period, women were treated as a burden on the family which makes them more prone to the flesh- traders. Also, the current laws in south-Asian countries ignore the exploitation of female children by their families.
  • Trafficking tends to worsen in conflict or post-conflict and other emergency situations. In a situation of natural disaster, the growth rate of trafficking increases rapidly. As, during the disaster, parents too have been found to be part of trafficking and loss of family and ideological brainwashes also results in child trafficking.  

There are also various other factors and reasons for the enhancement of growth of the trafficking crime industry globally like, lack of education, exploitation, and others also. 

Gender Ratio and Trafficking

As we are continuously talking about what trafficking is and how it affects and what are the impacts on economic and social conditions. Trafficking also leads to the severe problem of gender ratio. The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has clearly identified the source and aim of organized bride trafficking rings which is continuously operating at a good pace in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Here, the gender ratio problem already exists and the gender ratio is considered least among the different countries. 

A 2013 UNODC report takes a survey of 92 villages of  Haryana and the result which came after the survey shocked everyone. The survey shows that 10,000 families and 9,000 women who were already married were bought by the traffickers for their enjoyment and sexual pleasure from the poor villages in the state. This data which is mentioned by UNDOC clearly indicates the scenario of the exploitation taking place with women and this report also shows in what ways bride trafficking is taking place in India and at what pace. 

A large number of trafficking victims have been identified as women and girls; however, men and boys are also victims of trafficking. 71% of women and girls found as trafficked victims which are detected globally and others were on the verge of being trafficked if the situation continued. Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts that 96% of victims trafficked were women and this leads to the problem of gender ratio in the nation.


Trafficking Comparison and  Worldwide analysis

The problem of trafficking is not only the problem of any particular country but is a   global problem  and we can say that the crime industry of trafficking is widespread almost all over the countries and for combating it, many nations’ governments also bring and make new laws especially for the combating of trafficking crime industry. Instead of many laws implementation and support of other agencies for destroying this crime industry but yet the government of the nation did not get much success in it. 

A global survey conducted by International Organization for Migration (IOM) of existing research on the serious issue of human and bride trafficking that is named as “Data and research on Human Trafficking: A Global Survey” that covers and mentioned some of the gaps and weaknesses or loopholes in the present practical research on Trafficking issue. These include:

  • More inclined towards trafficking in women for sexual exploitation.
  • Lack of research on the trafficking of men and boys.
  • Too many studies with a short timeframe, low budget, and narrow focus to meet the needs of operational programs.
  • Lack of researching skills, ideas, and capacity in the case of developing countries. 
  • Very less number of evaluation of policy responses and trafficking programs to combat trafficking.

These are some reasons and weaknesses in current empirical research on trafficking but a reason which is regarded as the most essential one i.e. lack of proper information means victims were not providing accurate information if anyone saves from the exploitation. 

Second is that it is more difficult to find the victims to get information from them about the incident that they faced.

Now further coming to the analysis and comparison of human trafficking among different countries. If we look at trafficking as a crime industry, it is spread almost all over the world. The magnitude of trafficking is difficult to judge and among the most quoted figures are the United States estimates 4 million people are traded against their will in forced labour, slavery and, prostitution and belives that in last 30 years more than 30 million man, women and, children are being victimized of human trafficking. A study by congressional research service for the US congress cites the following estimates of trafficked people worldwide: South-East Asia — 2,25,000; South Asia — 15,000 former soviet union — 1,00,000; East Europe — 75,000; Latin America – 10,000; Africa — 50 crores (CRS 2001). 

This data by the study of congressional research clearly shows the rate of trafficking crime industry prevails worldwide. And this number is not constant in itself but it is increasing day today at a rapid pace and affects or hampers the development of the nation. 

A Global report on trafficking in persons launched today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provides new information related to the crime that is shameful for all the countries. According to the data gathered by (UNODC) from the report given by 155 countries on the serious issue of trafficking and this offering of a report by 155 countries leads to the first global assessment of the scope of Human trafficking and what is the requirement to combat human and bride trafficking. The report includes an overview of trafficking patterns, legal steps taken in response to that, information gathering methods. According to the report by the UN, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation and the victims are predominantly women and girls. 

Laws adopted for combating Human trafficking 

After the gathering, full information about the human and bride trafficking globally and what are its impacts and what are the gaps and weaknesses were found in gathering information related to the trafficking from the victims. 

Now we will look for some of the laws which were adopted by the different countries in order to combat human and bride trafficking so that it can’t hamper the country’s growth. 

Some of the laws and acts passed and enacted to combat trafficking are noted down below.

These two laws are the main and essential one which has a larger impact overall countries to combat trafficking by some means which was mentioned above in the mentioned law and some more laws and protocol or conventions are mentioned below.

According to the currently available data collected by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB),  there was a total of 8,132 cases were reported of Human Trafficking across India in the year 2016.  


Bandhua Mukti Morcha Vs. Union Of India  and Ors., 1984

In this Public Interest Litigation, Supreme Court directed the state of Uttar Pradesh to eliminate the carpet industry’s use of child labour, issue welfare directives prohibiting child labour under the age of 14 and provide children access to education and health facilities in an effort to abolish child labour. 

And this Public Interest Litigation filed by Bandhua Mukti Morcha is a great step taken towards making people aware of the trafficking in persons so that the rate of trafficking in persons can be decreased. Many more cases that take steps towards the combating of human and bride trafficking but this case and judgment of this case is considered as a landmark judgment and case.   

Laxmi Kant Pandey vs. Union of India, 1984, in this case, the Supreme Court while supporting adoption it is so much necessary to keep in mind that the sole objective or aim of providing the child in adoption being the welfare of the Child. 

Care has to be done in permitting the child to be given in adoption to parents of foreign origin, lest the child may be abandoned by the parents who adopted the child may not be able to provide to the child a life of moral or material security or child may be subjected to sexual abuse or may be kept in worse condition than in his own country. 

The Supreme Court has laid down procedures to check and monitor inter-country adoptions in order to prevent children from being trafficked. 


Therefore, let us conclude that trafficking is a social evil prevailing globally violates Human Rights by the violation of the fundamental rights of the citizen i.e. Article 14 (Right to equality) and Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty). Over the years, many NGOs, and government parties and institutions have made a lot of effort in combating Human and Bride Trafficking by analyzing and identifying the spheres of the problem and causing the root of that problem.

Trafficking in almost all the countries spreads at a rapid pace which severely affects the other sectors of the economy and accumulates a large sum up amount as these crime industries attract a lot of profit with minimal risk and also involve a major portion of the population in this crime industry. If trafficking issues will not be solved then it will soon destroy the whole of the economy by leading to gender ratio problems, a lot of sexual diseases in women and girl children and this mental and physical disorder leads to the heavy expenditure of treatment and also for the protection of victims. 

According to my view, more stringent punishment and laws should be brought up and a particular regulatory body that is only concerned with the issue of trafficking in persons. Otherwise, these problems will slowly but gradually exploit and destroy the whole nation and also other agencies.

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