A recent study of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) claims that the Indian capital is a market and also a transit point for trafficked women and children, brought from across the country, Nepal and Bangladesh.
“The trafficking situation in Delhi has worsened as the trafficking rackets have expanded their operations in the guise of beauty parlours, friendships, spas, massage parlours and escort services,” the UN agency said in its countrywide assessment report published on Friday.
The traffickers have managed to expand operations to various satellite towns around Delhi.
Every day, 10-12 women are sent out to the Middle East, the report says, according to Times of India.
“Mumbai is no longer a popular transit point for trafficking bar girls due to strict customs officials. It is now easier to send them via New Delhi, Chennai and sometimes Hyderabad.”
The UNODC studies trafficking situation across 13 Indian states. The report prepared with help from the Union ministries of home affairs, and women and child development, and NGOs like Shakti Vahini.
It says a well-organised system also exists to shift girls kidnapped from Delhi to Mumbai and the Middle East. "The young victims who are being kidnapped by these gangs are being kept at remote locations by some of the central Indian tribe members and once the girls attain puberty they are sent to Mumbai to work in bars and dance clubs. Many of these victims are even sent to Middle Eastern countries to be pushed into prostitution.''
Trafficked people are exploited in various ways: some are forced to work as domestic labour in homes, factories and brick kilns, and women are sometimes sold as brides in Haryana and Punjab.
The report also discusses the illegal placement agencies that provide resident maids.
“The employers are specifically looking at younger children because they come cheaper, complain less and can be exploited. There has also been an upsurge of cases of recruiting agencies taking migrant women workers to Gulf countries in the name of providing maids, and then exploiting them,” it says.
The study notes that while 13 of the 92 brothels on GB Road (housing 4,000 women) have been shut down, the flow of migrants from certain areas has not stopped.
Recently, a joint probe by Delhi Police and Assam Police found 36 Delhi-based placement agencies involved in trafficking girls to Haryana, Punjab, Mumbai and several other Metropolitan cities.
Responding to the report's findings, the home ministry said the government was working on setting up 330 units in chosen police districts across each state and train 10,000 policemen on the issue.
Besides strictly following the standard operating protocols for inter-state investigations, there is also an urgent need of a country protocol for repatriation of victims to Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, said Rishi Kant of the NGO Shakti Vahini, who co-wrote the country assessment report on human trafficking.
The Saarc protocol provides a mandate for such co-operation. "The present process done at the NGO-level is slow and sometimes it takes months," he added.
The UNODP also said emphasis should be laid on cornering traffickers at the source and transit points.