Extreme poverty, unemployment, lack of education, lack of awareness, and internal and external migration are driving forces behind Human trafficking in India. Indian girls are moved from their villages to mega cities like Bombay(Mumbai), Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai (Madras), etc for domestic labor and sexual exploitation. It is not only in the villages but in the Megacities the domestic workers are exploited and abused physically and sexually. A recent Australian study found half of 30 million people who are trafficked around the world are found in India. This is an alarming number. India with its religious, geographical, cultural, caste discrimination, and language diversity makes it fertile soil for modern-day slavery and makes the escape path difficult. India is a source, destination, and transit country for trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, child, and forced labor.

Santhi* was 11 years old when she was sold to a domestic worker from a remote village in the North Eastern Part of India. She was sold for 120$. She was made to work 14 to 16 hours per day, doing all the household duties, including cleaning and babysitting, she was given limited food but not any wages. She was often told that she is good for nothing. She was told that she is living in a better place and she is looking good and she gained weight. Even though some of it is the normal growth of an 11-year-old. In India, weight gain is also considered a health gain. She is exploited not only physically but sexually by one of the members of the household. She said I quote: "I have been beaten up and sexually exploited. I was not allowed to call home or to visit my parents."

The cities of Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata are the largest destinations for internal migrants in India. The cities of Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata are all among the world’s top ten most populous urban areas, and India has 25 of the 100 fastest-growing cities worldwide. This fuels the human trafficking situation unimaginable in a country like India with more than 1.25 billion people. This is also an external issue in relationships with women trafficked to the Middle East, Europe, and other parts of the world. India is also a destination for human trafficking from Nepal and Bangladesh. This is mainly for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and forced domestic labor.

The social stigma connected with seeking counseling help is also a difficult process in India for the victims. Mental disorders like PTSD, depression, and anxiety attacks are evident while working with the victims of modern-day slavery. The smugglers promise a better life, job as domestic servants, offer to work in the film industry, work in the factories, pleasure trips and promises of marriage, etc. to attract the vulnerable victims. 

A number of years ago, an anonymous person penned these haunting words in an essay titled, “Listen Christian:” “I was hungry, and you formed a humanities club to discuss my hunger. Thank you. I was imprisoned, and you crept off quietly and prayed for my release. I was naked, and in your mind, you debated the morality of my appearance. I was homeless, and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the Love of God. I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me. “You seem so holy, so close to God. But I’m still very hungry, lonely, and cold. So where have your prayers gone? What does it profit a person to page through this book of prayers when the rest of the world is crying for help?” Yes 30 million or more people are suffering today as we speak. Let our eyes be opened and be an answer for their prayers.

There are millions of children at risk of sex trafficking in India and the average age of entry into prostitution is around 12 years. The recruitment happens on the train, at schools, at temples, at workplaces and even at homes. 90% of sex workers' daughters join or fall into prostitution as a profession. The question is what will be our response...?

*Name is changed for identity protection


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