A Study on the Reasons Behind the Unavailability of Data on Human Trafficking in Kochi, Kerala


A.    Introduction: Understanding Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, after the illegal drug and arms trade, is the largest organized crime in the world today (UNODC, 2000). In 2000, as per the Palermo Protocol, the UN General Assembly adopted the definition of human trafficking to be,

“…the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force, forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at the minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or service, slavery or practice similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

Illiteracy, dependency, violence, social stigma, cultural stereotypes, gender disparity and endemic poverty, among other factors, place many, particularly women and children, in powerless, non-negotiable situations that have contributed to the emergence and breeding of human trafficking. Estimates for trafficked persons vary from 4 to 27 million. Asia is seen as the most vulnerable region for human trafficking because of its huge population pyramid, growing urbanization and poverty.

India, is a source, transit and destination country for women, children and men trafficked for the purposes of sexual and labour exploitation. Internal trafficking of women, children and men for the purposes of sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, bonded labour and indentured servitude is also widespread.

Prompted by this gross violation of human rights, the complexity of the issue, and the urgency that the issue of human trafficking demands, a limited amount of research, by Governmental and Non-Governmental bodies both National and International, has been and is being conducted as part of the effort to mitigate the issue in India. However, most of the research focuses on Delhi, Maharashtra, Goa, and Andhra Pradesh and some attention is being given to the occurrence of the issue in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The secondary research conducted for this paper revealed that hardly any research is available on the occurrence of human trafficking in Kerala.

The Kerala Government, in its efforts to mitigate violence against women and children, has, in particular, drawn attention to three issues: child abuse, domestic violence and human trafficking. While these, and other, instances of violence against women and children are not isolated from each other, the dearth of information available on human trafficking in Kerala demands immediate attention and efforts to improve the database and intelligence on the human trafficking situation in Kerala.

The research conducted for this paper primarily focuses on Kochi with a considerable amount of primary research being conducted at the Police Commissioner’s Office in Kochi and the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit in Kochi.