Measures to Combat Human Trafficking: International & National Perspectives Seminar (Thrissur, Kerala, India)
International seminar on “Measures to Combat Human Trafficking: International and National Perspectives” at the Government Law College (Thrissur, Kerala).
National Human Rights Commission Chairman, Justice (retired) K.G. Balakrishnan, shed light at the alarmingly high and growing number of child labor and the number of women that are being exploited in the commercial sex sector (some estimates show that there are 3 million sex workers in India, other estimates point towards a much higher figure).
Addressing human trafficking in the country’s context, K.G. Balakrishnan commented that it is “a very terrible thing in India” and a “a serious problem which requires serious attention by the administrators, the law enforcement agencies, NGO’s and those who work for social justice and empowerment of, especially, women”, praising the work that some of the NGO’s are doing in the country.
Balakrishanan expanded: “Today the trafficking is known to take place not only for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor but also for organ trade and other new forms including sex tourism, trafficking for militancy, trafficking for surrogacy and so on”. In terms of specifics he shared, “according to the Ministry of Women and Child Development Gov. of India, there are 2.8 million persons subjected to trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation in India”. Aside from women being trafficked, girls ranging from “8 to 14 years [old]” are also being “subjected to sex trafficking in India”. He went on to add “India also has the highest number of child labor in the world with an estimate of 12.66 million children involved in hazardous work in several industries that come under the standards of human trafficking.”
Moreover, Balakrishnan noted that "trafficking across the border inside India continues to rise due to increased mobility and northern industries that use forced labor such as construction, textiles, manufacturing...horticulture..” among others. He also pointed out that "boys from Nepal and Bangladesh continue to be subjected to forced labor in coal mines in the state of Meghalaya”, where coal mining is not mechanized, so workers physically dig holes to get to the coal. “After digging for some period into the earth, it is difficult for a [tall] person to crawl inside; so they make use of children to crawl inside and take the coal… about 20,000 children are working in the coal mines in Meghalaya”. He noted the importance of working on this problem and especially on efforts to “prevent the children from being used for this work”.
In summary – he noted that although the UN is taking serious steps on this issue “the problem is only increasing”, thus he was “happy that Principal, Dr. Mercy Thekkekara, has addressed this very important subject which
requires some serious action so we can solve the problem and at least [be able] to rescue some children subjected to these [realities]”.
Good session at the Kerala Judicial Academy (Kochi, Kerala). During an overview on Human Rights Law and a focus on human trafficking, Professor Pati reminded attendees that when researching and looking at human trafficking, we have to “look beneath the surface”. Especially when culture can be a tool to hide the crime that is happening right under our noses. It is crucial to be knowledgeable and inquisitive as to what elements in culture are enabling human rights violations, such as human trafficking, and look for ways to change it. Human trafficking is thus deeply rooted in culture. Many of us postulate that human trafficking is not existent in our community, in our city, in our state, in our country – but that would be a quick unfounded assumption. It is important to “identify and prove it”, as it is present in some capacity everywhere, worldwide. Human trafficking occurs in many forms, not just sex trafficking but also forced labor, children labor including begging, domestic servitude, among others.
As part of the judicial community it is also important to increase our knowledge and training on what current legislation and tools exist, both at an international and domestic level. Then make sure proper legislation is in place and more importantly work to put it into effect. Just “because the law is on paper, it is not enough” - training and implementation is crucial.
In the end, holistically speaking, the connection of culture and attitude towards the law in society is key.
International Conference on the Role of Universities in Human Trafficking Law (Kochi, Kerala, India)
International Conference at Bharata Mata College - Institute of Management, School of Social Justice (Kochi, Kerala) on the Role of Universities in Human Trafficking Law. The topic anchored around the prevalent question to ignite action: What can students do? Aside form research and coming up with recommendations – a simple yet effective effort is always needed: Raise awareness and advocate for change wherever needed through the lens of Human Rights Law: “we have to be our brother’s keeper” shared Professor Pati especially when “nature can feed everyone’s needs but not everyone’s greed”.
When asked what is human trafficking, one of the students put it perfectly, the illegal “commodification of human beings” stripping a human of their rights. It is crucial to pay attention to the value and respect society has for all human beings. Dr. George Madathiparambil offered some additional perspecitve by adding “A day ago the President of the U.S. was in India – and he said in his parting message to the students of Delhi – that every woman should have the right to walk freely through the streets of India. And only when that happens then everyone is equal before the law. And everyone is given the right to enjoy what is given in the Constitution of India. Then India becomes a democracy; independent and fully capable of advancing to the Modern Era. So this is what we have to accomplish”. He reminded the students that as community that is also on the cusp of great prosperity and development; “you have a great role to perform and once you take up this project and fight for these issues not only will your academic knowledge grow but also your human life will develop”.