Did you know India is home to the highest rates of human trafficking in the world?
Despite human trafficking being illegal under Indian law – and although no reliable studies exist – it is a widespread issue that many NGO’s estimate affects 20-65 million Indians. According to STOP India, it is the largest growing criminal industry in the world, with 1.2 million child sex slaves in India today, and the UN has cited Kolkata as one of the most dangerous places in the world for young girls.
Women and children are trafficked within the country for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, forced marriages and forced labour. Women and children are also trafficked from bordering countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh, and many are trafficked out of the country to the Middle East and Europe for the purposes of forced labour.
Girls are usually ‘recruited’ through fraudulent practices, sold, tortured, drugged, raped and, in some circumstances, murdered. They are also exposed to diseases.
The average age of a child slave in India is 14, and most of these children miss out on basic human rights like access to an education, healthcare and basic sanitation.
Due to the secretive nature of the industry, most cases of human trafficking go unreported and therefore there are no conclusive statistics.
But imagine if we, as a global community, can move towards being more socially conscious. You know, buying products and services that are ethically sourced, and not contributing to the further exploitation of billions of worldwide sweatshop workers and slaves.
Imagine if we encouraged more young people not to aim towards being famous but rather to become social entrepreneurs, to create ideas and businesses that help resolve real world problems.
We might not be able to eradicate the problem completely, as it’s impossible to pinpoint every illegal underground ‘business’, but we sure can get close.
Human trafficking in India usually results in women suffering from mental health disorders, such as PTSD and depression, and physical abuse. They are also at higher risk of contracting avoidable STI’s due to the unavailability or miseducation of contraception.
By being more aware of where you purchase your goods from, you can help a child go to school. You can help a child get off the streets or out of an illegal brothel. You can help a woman get the support she needs or the job she wants. You can help them access healthcare facilities and basic sanitation.
‘Retail therapy’ can be just that – therapy for the soul.
It won’t solve all the world’s problems at once, but it’s a darn good place to start.