The US continues to place India in tier-2 of its annual report on human trafficking, arguing that the country does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. India does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the State Department said in it annual Congressional-mandated report on human trafficking but acknowledged that it has been making significant efforts to do so. “The government demonstrated increased efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, India remained on tier-2,” the report said. India’s efforts were reflected in increasing the number of victims identified, investigations completed, and traffickers convicted, as well as its budget for shelter programmes for female and child trafficking victims. It also adopted an action plan for children, which included plans to prevent child trafficking and protect child victims, the report said.
However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas, it ruled. “Overall victim identification and protection remained inadequate and inconsistent and the government sometimes penalised victims through arrests for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to human trafficking,” the report said. According to the report, demonetisation had an impact on sex trafficking last year. Some NGOs commented sex trafficking was temporarily reduced to other forms of payment were established—some NGOs reported a resultant increase in other methods of payment including online payments, the report said. Other NGOs stated workers in the informal economy, including brick kiln workers, were at times paid in void currency notes or were not paid at all due to cash shortages— both situations subsequently increased the workers’ vulnerability to debt bondage and forced labour, it said.
India, the report said, is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Forced labour constitutes India’s largest trafficking problem; men, women, and children in debt bondage—sometimes inherited from previous generations— are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories, it said. “Most of India’s trafficking problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata— lowest caste Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women and girls from excluded groups—are most vulnerable,” the report said.
Within India, some are subjected to forced labour in sectors such as construction, steel, and textile industries, wire manufacturing for underground cables, biscuit factories, pickling, floriculture, fish farms, and shipbreaking, the report said. “Thousands of unregulated work placement agencies reportedly lure adults and children under false promises of employment into sex trafficking or forced labour, including domestic servitude, it added.