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India – Introduction

Human trafficking is a relatively common occurrence in India. Ninety percent of human trafficking is internal, while the remaining 10% comes from Nepal, Bangladesh, and other neighboring countries. Human trafficking takes place in different forms throughout India, including sex tourism, child labor, and bonded labor. Due to the underground nature of the business, there are no empirical studies available that can present accurate figures of human trafficking in India. The numbers provided by the government and different NGO s are only speculative and the true magnitude of the problem is not fully known. It is reported, however, that India is the main recipient of an estimated 150,000 women and girls trafficked into India from South Asia to feed the commercial sex industry. Moreover, India is also a source and transit country for the sex trafficking of women and children from and for the Middle East.

In India, boys and girls are trafficked for labor, marriage, prostitution, and other purposes. Most of the trafficking takes place from the poorest villages of India into major cities, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore, Goa, Hyderabad, and Jaipur. The main institutions that propagate sex trafficking in India are brothels that can be primarily found in the red light districts of the major cities. Besides brothels, other locations that harbor the underground sex trade include massage parlors, call-girl centers, nightclubs, and other rented facilities. The availability of these types of facilities has become increasingly widespread throughout the country.

There is a hierarchy within the sex trade system in India. Those involved include brothel owners, managers, the mafia, and recruiters. Recruiters go to different villages, as well as neighboring countries, to obtain girls, who can be as young as eight years old. The recruiters then give the girls to the next person in the hierarchy, until they reach the top. This is another reason why it is very difficult to obtain accurate numbers. Even the lowest members in the hierarchy do not have an idea of how many girls are in the brothels.

Next: The Causes of Human Trafficking in India