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India not doing enough to combat ‘modern slavery’: US report

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Saying that New Delhi is not doing enough to curb human smuggling, the US has placed India in the second worst category in a blacklist of countries not meeting the minimum standard of combating trafficking.

“India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation,” said the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report released by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday.

For the first time, India, China, Russia, Sri Lanka and Egypt and other countries that have been on the on Tier 2 watch list for two years, face the prospect of being automatically moved to the Tier 3 blacklist next year without a presidential waiver if they fail improve their trafficking record, the State Department said.

India is listed with 52 countries on the watch list of nations that have failed to meet the minimum anti-trafficking standards but are making efforts to do so. The blacklisted countries are subject to US sanctions if they don’t make greater efforts to fight trafficking.

The Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Pakistan were added to the “watch list” because of what the report calls a worsening trafficking record in those countries.

“This is modern slavery. A crime that spans the globe, providing ruthless employers with endless supply of people to abuse for financial gain,” Clinton said as she released the report.

“With this report, we hope to shine the light brightly on the scope and scale of modern slavery, so all governments can see where progress has been made and where more is needed.”

Observing that in recent years, there has been an increase of sex trafficking to medium-sized cities and satellite towns of large cities, the report said India is also a destination for women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.

There are also victims of labour trafficking among the thousands of Indians who migrate willingly every year to the Middle East, Europe, and the US for work as domestic servants and low-skilled labourers.

India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the report said. However, it is making significant efforts to do so.

“Despite these significant efforts, India has not demonstrated sufficient progress in its law enforcement efforts to address human trafficking, particularly bonded labour,” it said.

The report suggested internal forced labour may constitute India’s largest trafficking problem; men, women, and children in debt bondage are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories.

The report commended state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Goa, and West Bengal for demonstrating “significant efforts in prosecution, protection, and prevention, although largely in the area of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

India should continue to expand central and state government law enforcement capacity to conduct intrastate and interstate law enforcement activities against trafficking and bonded labour, it recommended.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])