image1Image source: mapsofindia.com

Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, according to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) report, estimated at $32 billion, third only to illegal drugs and arms smuggling.

The Report of UNODC titled 'Anti Human Trafficking, 2013' revealed that out of over 19,000 women and children reported missing in West Bengal in 2011, only 6,000 could be traced.

West Bengal had the maximum human trafficking cases amongst all states in India in 2013, followed by Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

West Bengal shares international borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. A range of socio-economic factors in the region along with weak regulatory measures have lead to burgeoning human trafficking across these borders, particularly in women and children. West Bengal is both a destination and a conduit for trafficking in humans, many of whom face sexual exploitation. Trafficking and sexual exploitation constitute a potent combination that facilitates the spread of HIV in the state.

Forty-two percent of minor girls captured by traffickers nationwide are from West Bengal.

Children and women from Bengal are mostly trafficked to Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. After this the destinations are Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. Some new destinations that have been identified are Ahmadabad, Bangalore and Hardwar. The state is a source of human trafficking bound beyond Indian shores to West Asia.

Clearly, human trafficking is increasing enormously day by day. More worrying is the fact that minor girls are being trafficked increasingly. West Bengal needs to urgently strengthen its laws to protect its girls.