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  • Writer's picturePGCL Moot Court Society


Updated: Dec 5, 2022

- Rachna Verma and Ansh Sharma


Trafficking of women and girls is widespread around the world. In almost every nation around the world, slavers abduct, sell, and compel women and girls for sexual commercial exploitation. Large number of women and girls lose their lives while being transported from one place to another due to the inhumane ways in which they are kept, even if they survive, they are used for forced marriage, prostitution, as cheap or unpaid labour, for sport, and for organ harvesting. Little girls as young as eight are forced into prostitution. The complex and pervasive nature of human trafficking operations makes the prosecution and punishment of traffickers nearly impossible. Women from impoverished areas are frequently bought or recruited by traffickers who promise to smuggle them to another nation and hire them as domestic staff. In reality, the women are frequently assaulted and mistreated by their recruiters before being sent to brothels or clandestine prostitution networks, where they are kept behind locked doors. These women are under strict control, which limits their access to any kind of health care, making them much more susceptible to contracting diseases of all types. Many human rights and governmental organizations concur that this is a serious violation of human and moral rights that must be combated.


The practice of trafficking of women is quite ancient, going all the way back to the dawn of civilization. In the archaic world, female slaves were regarded as highly prized for prostitution and were used as concubines. The East India Company issued prostitution-related regulations in I668. These rules were referred to as “Company Commandments”. It was for the first time during the British era that brothels were regulated by the law[1]. The Indian government took notice of the evils of prostitution in the latter half of the 19th century, and this concern was mostly for the wellbeing of the British soldiers. A committee was established in 1892 by the British House of Commons to investigate the prostitution trade in India and the spread of venereal diseases. All of these efforts were deemed insufficient. The result of this was that they decided that stronger action was required. The East Bengal and Assam Disorderly Houses Act, 1907, a law intended to outlaw brothels, was passed in 1907. After the country attained Independence, the Government of India ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of others and in furtherance to this, passed the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 (SITA)[2] which was later amended in 1986.


The legislation in India that makes trafficking illegal in India is the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. The definition of trafficking can be found in Section 5 which speaks about procuring, taking and inducing a person for the sake of prostitution. According to this section, even attempt to procure and attempt to take or cause a person to carry on prostitution amounts to trafficking. The Act prescribes a penalty from seven years to life imprisonment for the offenders. Indian law enforcement authorities charge such offenders with Sections 366(A), 372, 373 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibit kidnapping and selling minors into prostitution respectively, to arrest traffickers. Penalties under these provisions are a maximum of ten years imprisonment and a fine. The Section 366-B of the Indian Penal Code[3] prohibits importation of girls under 21 years from foreign countries, and prescribes a punishment of imprisonment which may extend to ten years and fine. Further, Article 24 of the Constitution of India which is a fundamental right prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labor and through this article, a person can directly go to the High Court or Supreme Court in cases of human trafficking.

The government of India has taken several steps to train its personnel dealing with issues of trafficking an example of which would be the Interpol Trafficking and Organized Crime Division's Dr. Gilly McKenzie providence of anti-trafficking training, which the Central Bureau of Investigation of India adopted into its core curriculum.


The evil of human trafficking is a major problem deeply rooted in India. The majority of such crimes are not reported due to their hidden and illegal nature, making it difficult to measure the exact scale of the issue. According to the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report: India by the US Department of State[4], India is a tier 2 country as the Government despite its efforts did not fully meet the minimum standards required for the elimination of trafficking. It was estimated in 2016 by the National Crime Records Bureau that 33,855 people in India had been abducted for the sole purpose of marriage with people under the age of 18 making up half of this number.

It is concerning that, according to official statistics, a child goes missing in India every eight minutes, and 40% of those children are never found. There are around three million people involved in sex work, with over 40% of them under the age of 18, some are as young as five.

Due to skewed sex ratios in some locations, bride trafficking has been a recurring business. There has been a deficit of women for the larger male population to marry, so many of them have to purchase partners. According to a 2013 UNODC research[5], nine out of ten households in the 92 villages of the Indian state of Haryana purchased spouses from impoverished communities in other areas of the nation. The report stated that the majority of the women were subjected to rape and violence in addition to being treated like slaves. These women are the most vulnerable to contracting diseases such as STI’s and STD’s.

Number of reported human trafficking cases in India 2021, by state.

Data of 2021


The effects of women trafficking are not just a distant issue that affects other people. The key components of the substratum for trafficking are poverty and illiteracy. There has been a significant growth in the non-governmental groups operating in the country over the past few years. However, the majority of them are found in metropolitan areas, and relatively few of them have links at the local level. There is no cooperation between the rescue agencies concerned with rehabilitation of victims, whether it is intra-state, inter-state, or trans-border trafficking. India as a country does not lack legislation in regards to protection of women and girls and has laws such as the Indian penal Code and Immoral Traffic and Prevention Act, much rather it should work towards effective implementation of these existing legislations in order to protect the victims of trafficking and taking action against those who protect and support the perpetrators to protect our future as a growing, vibrant nation.

Rachna Verma is third year student and Ansh Sharma is second year student at Pravin Gandhi College of Law, Mumbai.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

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