"Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders annually, and between 14,500 and 17,500 of those victims are trafficked into the United States each year. More than half of these victims worldwide are children!"
- Child Victims of Human Trafficking, Department of Health and Human Services, USA and the U.S. Department of State
Human trafficking is the third largest profitable industry in the world. Child trafficking unlike many other issues is found in both developed and developing nations. Trafficked children are used for prostitution, forced into marriage, illegally adopted, used as cheap or unpaid labour, used for sport and organ harvesting. Some children are recruited into armed groups. Trafficking exposes children to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. According to UNICEF a child victim of trafficking is "any person under 18 who is recruited, transported, transferred, harboured or received for the purpose of exploitation, either within or outside a country". Trafficking is one of the hardest crimes to track and investigate hence data is hard to obtain. The latest figures estimate that 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide every year. Child prostitution has the highest supply of trafficked children.
India is a source, destination, and transit country for trafficking for many purposes such as commercial sexual exploitation. Majority of the trafficking is within the country but there are also a large number trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh. Children are trafficked to Middle Eastern countries for sport such as camel racing. There are no national or regional estimates for the number of children trafficked every year. But 40% of prostitutes are children, and there is a growing demand for young girls in the industry.
NGOs estimate that 12,000 - 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the country annually from neighbouring states for the sex trade. Thousands of girls are trafficked from Bangladesh and Nepal. 200,000 Nepalese girls under 16 years are in prostitution in India. An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Indian children are smuggled out of the country every year to Saudi Arabia for begging during the Hajj. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have the largest number of people trafficked. Intra state/inter district trafficking is high in Rajasthan, Assam, Meghalaya, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Delhi and Goa are the major receiver states. Trafficking from north eastern states is high but often over looked. In 2008, 529 girls were trafficked from Assam alone.
There is a rising demand for live-in maids in urban areas. This has resulted in trafficking of girls from villages in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to live under extremely poor conditions first in "placement agencies" and later in the employers homes. Placement agents keep the girls in small unhygienic rooms packed together. They are often made to do the placement agent's household work and subjected to sexual abuse. Smita a sixteen year old girl was taken from her village in Jharkhand and subjected to various forms of sexual abuse and exploitation at the hand of her employers including rape. When rescued her parents refused to take her back since she had been tainted by rape. Falling sex ratios in Haryana and Punjab has led to a need for trafficking of brides from villages in Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam and West Bengal, who have been sold off by the parents. Jyoti, age fourteen, was sold and married to a 40-year old man for Rs 15,000 in order to produce a mail heir.
India has legal provisions to counter trafficking as per the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1986. The MWCD has taken a number of Initiatives to combat trafficking of Women and Children.