07/15/2010, 00.00
INDIA

India, world hub in human trafficking

Santosh Digal
Each year, about 1.2 children are victims of human trafficking and prostitution. More than 100 million people are forced to work in slave-like conditions. Sex tourism continues to be highly profitable. A fair-skinned eight-year-old girl can fetch US$ 2,500 a night. Underage female prostitution is a billion-dollar industry, up 30 per cent over previous years.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – India is the world’s hub in prostitution-related human trafficking and forced labour, this according to a recent report released by the US Department of State. More than 1.2 million children in India are caught up in human trafficking as child prostitutes. Worse still, as many as 100 million people in India—soon to be the world’s most populous country—are involved in trafficking-related activities. Authorities believe 90 per cent of human trafficking in India is "intra-country, centred in the poorest states like Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. 

“Human trafficking and gender discrimination in India are becoming rampant. They need to be checked. Trafficking includes men, women and children who are forced into commercial sex work and sexual exploitation, forced and exploitative labour, marriage and forced marriage, adoption, organ transplantation, begging and mafia-controlled begging and drug peddling,” said Madhu Chandra, a New Delhi-based Christian social activist, research scholar and regional secretary for the All India Christian Council (AICC).

Women and children from lower castes and Dalits are the most affected, and are victims of violence and discrimination in their own villages.

Sex tourism involving underage girls remains a highly profitable business, a billion-a-year industry in 2009, with a 30 percent increase from previous years. Mumbai is the leading market.

A fair-skinned minor—as young as eight—can fetch about US$ 2,500 a night, whilst a dusky-skinned child is sold for about US$ 2,000 per night.

Victims are denied food and water if they do not perform with the clients, and beatings are a regular part of a child prostitute’s life.

The situation reveals how fragile India is as a nation. “Civil society and the authorities have to find appropriate ways to respond to the issue,” said Fr Gregory Monterio, a social worker for the Calcutta Archdiocese.

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