Human trafficking is a
serious concern the world over, and its impact is particularly high in
countries like Nepal and India. Women and children are some of the worst
affected from this practice, with many ending up in the flesh trade. Every
year, over one and a half lakh girls and women are trafficked from
Nepal, a big percentage of who end up in brothels in Mumbai. To make matters
worse, the average age of a sex worker has fallen from 14-16 years to 10-12
years in the past decade.
These women are in
most cases deceived by loved ones and families and have had
their dreams and aspirations shattered by their families’ greed for
poverty, lack of education and employment, and poor implementation of the
government’s minimum wage system in rural India make girls more vulnerable to
being trafficked. The 2013 Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, an organization
that works to end modern slavery, found that almost half of the 30 million “modern slaves” in the world are from the
India subcontinent(India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan etc).
In the western part
of India’s capital city, New Delhi, more than 5,000 ‘domestic worker placement’ agencies operate out of a nondescript
neighborhood called Shakurpur Basti.
For years, the agencies have flourished by indulging in the business of
trafficking minor girls and selling them as domestic slaves in the cities. Unfortunately
even though the mainstream media and the Government is aware of it, yet no one
seems to bother. A major cause behind is simply that in most cases these minor
children are not reported missing, have no documents of their existence and in
a majority of cases, are illegal immigrants. They are not voters or consumers.
In the eyes of successive Governments, they don’t exist.
The agencies liaise
with natives of remote villages, mostly from the eastern part of India, who, as
“local agents,” carry out the first
step in the trafficking process. The agents identify underage girls from
extremely poor families and lure them to the city with the promise of a good
job. Once the girls are in the city, the agents sell them for about US$120 each
to a domestic worker placement agency. The agency then re-sells her to a family
as domestic labor, charging between US$600 and US$700.
The girls are made
to work 14 to 16 hours per day and do all of the household chores, from cooking
and cleaning to baby-sitting. They are paid almost nothing. Often their monthly
wage is paid to the agencies—not to them.
Most of the girls
get trapped in this vicious cycle forever. Unaware and often illiterate, they
have little knowledge of their rights and no clue of how to return home. The
traffickers and agencies make the most of their vulnerability and, for years,
move them from one household to another. Many are sexually exploited.
 by the Geneva-based International Labour Organization found
that the number of domestic workers in India ranges from 2.5 million to 90
million. And despite being the largest workforce in the country, the workers
are unrecognized and unprotected by Indian law.
What is even worse
in this case is that this heinous crime does not happen in the shadows, it
happens all around us in the open. It is not a secret, a majority of the India
population is aware of this, and even many educated families still have
children working as domestic helps. In some cases these children are routinely
The Ministry of
Labour and Employment had formulated a national policy, which is still awaiting
cabinet approval. The policy draft, which includes recommendations by the
National Advisory Council, an advisory body set up to advise the Prime Minister,
entitles domestic workers to benefits of defined normal hours of work with
weekly rest, paid annual and sick leave, maternity benefits, and, most
important, entitlement of minimum wages under the Minimum Wages Act of 1948.
Unfortunately even though some individual states have taken action to prevent
these incidents, the Center has mostly stayed quite.

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