India launches anti-trafficking unit to curb prostitution - report

by Nita Bhalla | @nitabhalla | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 5 January 2012 12:14 GMT
South Asia is the second largest venue for human trafficking in the world, after East Asia, according to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

NEW DELHI, Jan 5 (TrustLaw) - India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has set up a special anti-human trafficking unit to crack down prostitution and deal with cases of kidnappings and abductions, the Times of India reported on Thursday.

South Asia is the second largest venue for human trafficking in the world, after East Asia, according to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

"This unit will be responsible for collecting, collating and analysing data on kidnapping and abduction of people from all over India," CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra was quoted as saying in the report.

"The unit will also develop actionable intelligence to conduct operations against gangs involved in trafficking, especially of children and women for the purpose of exploitation, such as beggary and prostitution."

Over 150,000 people are known to be trafficked within the region every year – mostly for sex work, but also for labour, forced marriages and as part of the organ trade, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Activists say actual numbers are likely to be higher as much of the trade is underground.

The special unit will coordinate with police departments, sharing intelligence and centralising data so that regular offenders can be more strictly monitored, the report says.

The CBI has also launched a helpline where people can report suspicious behaviour. Any information leading to arrest or criminal action against organised traffickers will be rewarded with up to 200,000 rupees ($3,765), said the report.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing transnational organised crimes in South Asia.

Traffickers often take advantage of impoverished communities, luring young women and girls with promises of jobs as maids or nannies in wealthy households in the cities. But, activists say, the reality is very different.

Girls sent to India’s towns and cities often end up as involuntary sex workers, sometimes detained in a room by their employers and forced into unprotected sex with multiple partners.

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