Police in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu recently rescued 42 girls who are said to be part of a child trafficking ring as they were about to board on a train bound for the western Indian state of Gujarat. The girls, aged 12 to 16, reported that that they were being taken to work in a “private power station.” Police arrested three women and two men in connection with what they describe as a child trafficking ring.
The girls have reported that they were forced to work without wages, and were often beaten and tortured when they voiced any complaints. Advocate groups explain that most of the children who are being trafficked are being taken with the approval of their destitute parents, who are enticed by false promises from the people who take their children. In the past few months, at least 50 children have been rescued from the Indian states of Orissa, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. Advocates of children’s rights have asked for more monitoring at railway stations, a key mode for trafficking children in the state of Tamil Nadu, according to the BBC.
According to the 2000 Annual Trafficking in Persons Report issued by the US State Department, an estimated 700,000 people Ð mostly women and children Ð are victims of trafficking each year. Of these, the State Department estimates that between 45,000 and 50,000 people are trafficked to the United States and forced to work in sweatshop-like conditions or in the sex industries as prostitutes. The United Nations, however, estimates that between 244,000 and 325,000 women and children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States.
Sex trafficking is the third most lucrative criminal activity in the world, after smuggling arms and narcotics, with profits estimated at $9 billion for 2001, according to officials present at the Second World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in December 2001.