The sex trafficking industry generates roughly $99 billion each year worldwide. According to National Crime Records Bureau India, there were 6,616 cases of human trafficking reported in 2019. The NGOs estimate around 12,000 to 50,000 women and children are trafficked every year into the country. And all these victims are kept in captivity through various means such as physical abuse, sending threats to family, and psychological manipulation. These victims have got only two means of escape. Firstly, through means of their own. Secondly, through anti-trafficking organizations like Freedom Firm. Victims escape or are freed but come out with a multitude of physical and mental traumatic experiences. This abuse has a great impact on children survivors who have been sexually abused as they are four times likely to be diagnosed with major depression and five times more likely to be diagnosed with clinical anxiety compared to kids who have not been sexually abused. And when victims of abuse finally get rescued or escaped they require a community that is trustworthy, caring, and willing to help them find their own identity and be part of society.  

This is not the case as survivors are discriminated against within their communities. The reason is survivors are seen as “homewreckers” as they have broken the communal ideology of sex which occurs only in marriage. Even though these victims were physically forced into such actions, society still blames them for breaking families rather than questioning the perpetrators who have intentionally raped these victims. The leaders of villages also take this view and do not give the survivors of sex trafficking any form of empathy, they also rule against them in decisions and partake in the abuse against the survivors. The family of the victim is  also insulted and tormented by society which affects their social status. This abuse towards the family could cause some families to reject their children to save their social status. The Indian government also does not provide direct assistance to survivors, but they do indirectly assist survivors with reintegration into society.

As there is no direct contact of support provided by the government and the society since the victim of sexual abuse is rescued. This leaves the victim to feel ostracized, alone, and the feeling that there is no one to help them. Victims of sex trafficking have reportedly higher cases of suicide attempts than individuals who haven’t been trafficked for sex. Therefore to stop this process of a downward spiral inevitably leading to suicide, we as an Indian community have to work together to help vulnerable people and support them towards wholeness. 

What can I do to help survivors of sex trafficking?

Communities Help Survivors
Firstly, we can try to change how societies help survivors rather than causing more grief and pain. The business sector of the community could provide jobs, offer internships, skills training, and other opportunities to trafficking survivors to make the survivors feel a part of the working community. Youth can make a huge impact on local communities by raising awareness of the severity of sex trafficking within the country. These efforts help survivors as they are accepted into society and have no fear of how they are being portrayed. 

Make Prosecution Strong
Secondly, make prosecution in India against human trafficking strong. Currently, less than 1% of the Indians who have been charged with slavery offenses during the past decade are convicted. Government data also shows that 93% of the human trafficking cases that are sent to courts in 2016 are pending and the conviction rate in the trials that had taken place was only 54%. Even if the traffickers were convicted they would be released on bail to again return to sex trafficking. This poor law enforcement and India’s under-resourced police and judiciary system lead to survivors of sex trafficking not seeing the perpetrators receiving the correct ruling. This leads them to believe that the system is out to get them and that they are not safe. Therefore for the safety of the survivors, there has to be serious reformation towards the convictions of the sex traffickers.

Support Organisations that fight sex trafficking
Finally, support anti-sex trafficking organizations that rescue, rehabilitate and reinstate the survivors into the community. NGOs like Freedom Firm assists survivors of sex trafficking in developing life skills and following up in regular intervals to ensure that girls are given resources for the future and continue to remain safe. Supporting such organizations is crucial because there is no other way for these survivors to be reintegrated into society. The Indian government established the Ujjawala scheme, which provides grants to NGOs that work to prevent human trafficking and to rescue, rehabilitate, and reintegrate victims of trafficking. However, these anti-trafficking organizations require more assistance than what is provided by the government. They require volunteer assistance and donations, which improves the quality of service provided to the survivor. This enables organizations to reintegrate survivors into the community.

Let it begin with us today. Supporting survivors is a noble and long-term task that has to be done to bring out the best in each of the survivors of sex trafficking.

Contributor: Ephrald Samuel , Freedom Firm Intern

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