The Railway Protection Force (RPF), Bengaluru in collaboration with International Justice Mission (IJM) is organizing an awareness drive on human trafficking on the World Day against Trafficking in Persons- 30 July 2018. This drive will be conducted at the Bangalore City Railway Station and the Yeshwanthpur Railway Station.Often traffickers’ rampantly use trains to transport victims across state lines for bonded labour and other forms of human trafficking and the RPF has conducted several rescue operations to free victims. The campaign hopes to highlight the plight of the victims of trafficking to create more awareness about this heinous crime at the railway stations especially among other commuters.Security Commissioner of the Railway Protection Force (RPF), South Western Railway Ms. DebasmitaChattopadhyaya who has rescued several victims of human trafficking from stations and trains also shared her expertise on the issue at the event.She says, “Railway Protection Force of South Western Railways have launched a dedicated Child recsue teams under Operation NanheFaristeh and have rescued 1100 children in the last 350 days . On this world anti trafficking Day we would like to encourage our passengers to inform RPF on its toll free All India Security helpline 182 about any suspicious movement of children or women over Railways and be a part of our crusade to save these beautiful lives which will shape our nation. Let us each do our bit and when they one sees any scared , malnutrioned ,dizzy or uncomfortable children along with suspicious adults please immediately inform RPF on 182 and help us fight Human trafficking .”
Prathima M, Associate Director from International Justice Mission (IJM), an NGO that works in collaboration with the government to rescue and rehabilitate victims of bonded laboursays, “Trafficking and bonded labour are insidious crimes which take place silently around us. World Day against Trafficking in Personsis a good reminderthat there are still millions of people whose liberty, dignity and essential humanity have been stolen from them. Victims of trafficking are confined to factories as bonded labourers or exploited in brothels in and around the city. The public can assist the police by calling the Police emergency number- 100 or 182 in trains and railway stations to report any instances of suspected trafficking.”Nemmadistreet theatre group performed skitsenacting various instances of human trafficking for forced Labour at both the railway stations. In 2013, the UN member states adopted a resolution which designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. They declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”Therefore this day was set aside by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in Bengaluru for the campaign at the railway stations. In South Asia, 85% of human trafficking is for the purpose of forced labour. In India IPC section 370 which was amended in 2013, describes trafficking as the use of force, coercion, threats or deception to recruit, transport, receive or harbour a person for the purpose of exploitation. Bonded labour, a type of exploitation prohibited by IPC section. 370 affects millions of labourers especially in the unorganized sector.
In July 2016, the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment announced in Parliament that the government plans to release and rehabilitate 1.84 crore bonded labourers in the country under its vision for 15 years till 2030 while also following up on prosecuting the employers and traffickers in these cases. This figure indicates the scale of this crime. In Karnataka specifically, according to official government data from the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment, from 1976 to March 31, 2015 close to 65,000 bonded labourers have been rescued in Karnataka, the second largest number of rescues in the country.A victim trafficked to be exploited as a bonded labourer is under some sort of obligation – it could be financial, economic, inherited, caste or any other social obligation – as a result of which, he is forced to forfeit his rights or freedoms. He may work for an owner who may pay him far below the minimum wage, if he is paid anything at all. In many cases, bonded labour trafficking victims are usually tricked to travel long distances for “employment” and are often verbally threatened or physically forced to remain at the facility they work at even if they want to leave. Trafficked labourers are usually exploited through control over their movement, restricted freedom of employmentand physical or sexual abuse.The RPF and IJM recognize that trafficking must be addressed on an international, national and state level as it is a borderless crime perpetuated by well-organisedcriminal networks. This drive is an opportunity for the Karnataka State Government, grassroots organisations, the RPF and survivors to participate in raising awareness and action towards combatting the trafficking of men, women and children.Bonded labour is a severe form of exploitation abolished by the Bonded Labour Abolition Act (BLA) in 1976. A Bonded Labour System is a system of labour where a person forfeits his rights and freedoms because of a debt or other obligation. In most cases, advance is used as a bait to trap labourers into bonded labour circumstances where the labourer is forced to continue to labour under severe restrictions of movement, employment and most often is paid less than the minimum wage. Under the Act and judgments of the honourable Supreme Court, there is no need to prove physical restriction for labourer to be bonded. A bonded labourer can be a man, woman or child.
Victims of bonded labour are subject to oppression, abuse, and are denied basic human dignity and rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Proactive intervention on bonded labour cases demonstrates commitment to prioritizing and eradicating bonded labour crime from the nation. Human trafficking is defined in Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code, updated in the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013. Someone is a trafficker if they recruit, transport, harbour, transfer, or receive one or more people using threats, coercion, abduction, deception, fraud, abuse of power, or inducement and that person or persons is exploited. Most cases of bonded labour are additionally cases of trafficking due to the use of threats, coercion, deception, and/or inducement in first initiating the relationship and then exploiting the workers by restricting their freedoms and paying meagre wages. Trafficking is a non-bailable, cognizable offense. In some cases with multiple victims of trafficking, the sentence can be up to life in prison.International Justice Mission (IJM) is a non-profit organisation that partners with local, state and national governments and grassroots organisations to protect the poor from violent forms of injustice such as bonded labour. Since 2001, IJM offices in India have assisted state and local government officials in the release and rehabilitation of over 15,000 victims trapped in the bonded labour system. Our contract lawyers and social workers partner with the local District Administration, Police and Public prosecutors across states to ensure victim rescue, rehabilitation, and prosecution of perpetrators, and to help develop a thriving public justice system that delivers justice for all victims of violent oppression including among the poor.