Being human to be inhuman ?

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What factors contribute towards child trafficking in India?

Children across our globe are sold for a variety of purposes which essentially include; bonded labour, domestic work, organ transplant, adoption, forced prostitution, entertainment, forced marriage and child soldiers. Our contemporary political economy governed by inherent neo-liberal policies and practices, unprecedented levels of globalisation alongside poverty, low levels of education and employment are significant contributing factors to child trafficking in India, and constitute supply-side and demand-side aspects, which are both interdependant.

Supply side factors are:

  • The impact globalisation has had on livelihoods by elimination of traditional agricultural jobs – Globalisation has resulted in a loss of traditional sources of income and rural employment in India. Traditional work requires unskilled workers. Migration is especially harsh for such individuals and therefore to earn a livelihood,  families resort to alternative options which are inherently illegal. Children are targeted and hence exploited by agencies who travel to rural parts of India or “kind” neighbours and family members with “job opportunities” in cities. To what extent can one acknowledge underpaid work or prostitution as an opportunity can be contested. However, even if entire families acquire an opportunity to migrate to urban areas in India, pressure threatens family bonds. Consequently children end up on the streets begging which leaves their innocence  in highly exploitative situations. Statistics portray that approximately 70% urban child sex workers migrate from rural parts of India because of relaxed migration movement and ease of transport. In addition, 57% arrive with families.
  • Corrupt governance which allows a lack of conviction for such criminal practice – Bad governance and a lack of scarce resources devoted to such issues of concern coupled with an ineffective legal framework exacerbate exclusion of children from primary economic and social assistance which is favourable to trafficking. Child rights are still in an infancy stage in developing countries like India.

Demand side factors are:

  • Children are used for sex tourism purposes as India becomes a major (sex?) holiday spot for tourists – Last year, child sex was being offered for Rs.50 (AED 2.50 / a few pennies) on Goa’s beaches. In India, children cost less in comparison with cattle to satisfy the “needs” of tourists. Such practices offer economic prospects for a child’s family, which vary from basic necessities such as provision of food to access to cable Television. One can find it appalling and immoral to attach the innocence of a child with a value for sale. This poses a genuine question; Is it human to be inhuman?                
  • Migrant “male” workers who have a demand for sex workers – They are far away from families for long periods making a living in India. Therefore, they often exploit younger virgin girls for they are easily affordable and readily available as if a commodity on sale at a convenient store. Capitalism has commoditised fundamental morals (even if “morals” vary from one being to another, no moral can justify exploitation of under-age children) and relationships amongst fellow human beings.
  • Economic booms which have led to unprecedented demands for cheap labour – Child labour is increasing to meet with demands of globalisation. To produce goods and services cheaply, firms are required to benefit from economies of scale which occurs as a result of cheap factors of production. Children are easy to exploit at work and underpay because they can be controlled with ease and are naive, vulnerable and desperate. Child labour is extremely common in India however mostly goes undocumented.

Children lack knowledge to perceive their situation. They choose to remain in exploitive situations because it allows their families to put food on their table. The status quo is seen as somewhat stable for such children, which is what empowers traffickers to maintain their control on children. In this case, children trafficked in India are therefore evidently losers in the global political economy.

Poverty which is a leading cause of trafficking amongst children in India as highlighted above  can be eradicated essentially by ensuring adequate economic, political and social development. One must acknowledge how such development may be challenging as a consequence of several obstacles namely, patriarchal culture, discrimination and marginalisation of women and children. Nevertheless, if poverty or child rights in particular are inherent issues of concern in our contemporary global political economy is subject to debate.

Reference: Stanford Human Trafficking report for India [Available: http://ips.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/shared/StanfordHumanTraffickingIndiaFinalReport.pdf]

The Times of India Newspaper. Available: http://goo.gl/IPGGR6 

Ammna Nasser

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