The best way to describe human trafficking:
“Stolen people, stolen dreams.”

Human trafficking is a multi-million dollar industry next only to drugs and illegal arms. In
In 2019, 21 million people were trapped in modern slavery. COVID-19 and the immigrant crisis
all over the world have worsened this. It is estimated to be a 150 million-dollar enterprise,
much more than the GDP of some countries. Its alarming growth has put immense pressure
on governments and international organizations to assess the measures taken and double
efforts to combat this social evil.

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. This month is dedicated to raising

awareness about human trafficking and ways to support trafficking survivors.

With increasing disparities in income and socio-economic status throughout the world, organ
trafficking has seen a considerable spike. It is one of the major causes of human trafficking.
Women are now trafficked for wombs and eggs. Children are trafficked for forced labor and
made to work in unhygienic conditions. Trafficking for prostitution is still lucrative. These
issues are faced by both poor and rich nations from the USA to Somalia. No segment of the
population or age group has been left untouched.

Now the question arises that despite knowing the enormity of this evil, human trafficking is
still growing by leaps and bounds. The current strategy to combat it by arresting traffickers,
giving victims services, and raising awareness is not producing the desired results. So let us
analyze where we are faltering and what needs to be done.

Firstly, intelligence needs to be strengthened. Identifying and profiling traffickers should be
done. A database must be created with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). This
information then must be shared by all concerned departments and organizations both
nationally and internationally.

Secondly, a functional justice delivery system is required. Identification must lead to
punishment to see its logical conclusion. A low rate of prosecution leads to low morale in the
police force.

Thirdly, governments must have a budgetary allocation for human trafficking. They must
come up with strict laws related to this. Recent studies have indicated that pornography is the
main cause which leads to sex trafficking. Lawmakers must make laws to deter it.
Fourthly, the role of civil society is the most important of all. Teaching youngsters to be
socially responsible and have empathy for others is required. We, as responsible citizens of
this global world, ‘need to be the eyes and ears’. All we need to do is speak up. The
traffickers’ biggest weapon is the silence of victims and the silence of society. It is the feeling
of shame that forbids the victim from breaking this cycle. We need to stop these
stigmatizations of victims.

Lastly, the role of the media. The mainstream media is not interested in these ‘sob stories
simply because these stories don’t have any viewership. But we should not forget that these
are the stories of survivors. To bring change, we need to change our language, attitude, and
perspective toward the victims.

This is a fight against a well-organized criminal syndicate having money power, muscle
power, and operating internationally. Traffickers are using technology and covert ways to
conduct this crime. Only the convergent efforts of the police, courts, and social services can
tackle it. It needs to be addressed in an organized manner. We as people have allowed its
existence. So, now it is our responsibility to stop this evil.

Nidhi Raj is a homemaker, storyteller, and mother keen on women’s issues and international

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