Jharkhand has today emerged as a major source area for intra-country trafficking in India. Most of the trafficking from Jharkhand is of tribals for domestic labour to metropolitan cities where there is a demand for such work. In cities like Delhi, a number of illegal placement agencies have cropped up. These agencies take advantage of legal loopholes to traffic mostly innocent girls in the name of providing employment but instead are put into extreme conditions of forced labour. 12-14 hours of work every day is a routine practice for these girls. Many of those rescued also report physical and sexual abuse. Several cases of Sexual slavery have also been reported from the victims rescued in Delhi. Some of the victims are trafficked to Haryana and Punjab for the purpose of Bonded Labour and Forced marriage.
Recent news reports also point to the emergence of trafficking of women from Jharkhand for surrogacy, deliver babies who are then sold off.
Jharkhand is not only a source but also a destination for the victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. There are Red Light areas existing in the districts of Dhanbad, Bokaro and Hazaribag. The trafficking affected districts include Gumla, Garwah, Sahibganj, Dumka, Pakur, West Singhbhum (Chaibasa), Ranchi, Palamu, Hazaribag, Dhanbad, Bokara, Girdih, Kodarma and Lohardagga. Most of the women trafficked from Jharkhand belong to Oraon, Munda, Santhal (including endangered Pahariya ) and Gond tribes, out of which, maximum are from Oraon and Munda. The Palamau and Garhwa districts are highly prone to trafficking for child labour in the carpet industry in Uttar Pradesh. Jharkhand is also a transit for the traffickers trafficking girls from Chattisgarh. The traffickers or the placement agents of the tribal states like Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal are working in close network.
Trafficking of children from Jharkhand mostly takes place through the well organized placement agency rackets in Delhi. These placement agencies supply tribal children to the homes of National Capital Region consisting of Delhi, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Noida. These agencies mostly target the children of age group 11-16 who remain tight lipped even after exploitation. The trafficked victims are kept in congested rooms, fed barely enough for survival till they are placed somewhere. The luckier ones land in a ‘kothi’ as a domestic help. The others are sold in marriage or to a brothel where they suffer never-ending abuse in all forms. These victims of trafficking have to go through series of exploitation starting from the source-traffickers, placement agents and employers.
The traffickers in the source areas of Jharkhand and in the destination areas of North India work as network and are very organised. The Shakurpur area under Punjabi Bagh Police station in Delhi is flooded with Placement agents either belonging to Jharkhand or having links with Jharkhand.
This trafficking from Jharkhand, as some of the recent rescues reveal, is fairly organized. Illiteracy, lack of sustainable employment, poor irrigation facilities for agriculture, single crop patterns, lack of awareness, political instability are some reasons that make people vulnerable to trafficking. Traffickers take advantage of these situations that make people vulnerable to agreeing to unsafe migration who then end up as victims of trafficking. There is a network of well organized routes and trains that get frequently used by traffickers for this. The Traffickers mostly use the Jharkhand Sampark Kranti Express, Muri Express and Swarna Jayanti Express to take the children.
Reports state that thousands of girls have gone missing from Jharkhand’s Tribal hinterlands, however the state has no record. The tribal districts of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal are most vulnerable to trafficking. In Jharkhand thousands of girls and boys are missing. It is also noticed that school going girls and boys are equally vulnerable to the risk of trafficking.
Jharkhand faces a huge problem of child labour. The state has been running the National Child Labour Project in Garwah, Sahibganj, Dumka, Pakur, West Singhbhum (Chaibasa), Gumla, Palamu, Hazaribagh and Ranchi.
To add to this, the state machinery has a long way to go to effectively protect trafficking victims, prosecute traffickers, or prevent trafficking. The rehabilitation set up is almost non-existent and probably needs the most work. Political will is also lacking to effectively tackle human trafficking plaguing the state. Extensive work is also required in tracing the missing children of Jharkhand especially after Sen and Nair (2005) made the link between missing children and trafficking clear.