‘Lakshmi’ (2014), a film by Nagesh Kukunoor depicts the true story in a fictional way. It marks the vigour of 14 year-old Lakshmi (role played by Monali Thakur) who fights all the odd circumstances with her will power and drags the traffickers to the court. Her story is the fictionalization of thousands of girls and women who are victims of sex markets, run by the traffickers.
Forced Labor & Sex Trafficking
“Multiple organizations note that physical violence against trafficking victims – in both forced labor and sex trafficking – is particularly prevalent in India. Unregulated work placement agencies reportedly use false promises of employment to lure adults and children into sex trafficking or forced labor. Some traffickers force women and girls to conceive and deliver babies for sale”, reads the report entitled ‘2019 Trafficking in Persons Report: India’.
The story of Lakshmi is just one side of the coin; there are thousands of children and young women and men who are miss-guided by the dealer or sold by the family members themselves, who are forced to work as a bonded labor in factories, mills; as a domestic worker living the life of a prisoner; and as a sex workers in brothels.
“Couple trafficked two Lithuanians into the UK to work as slaves, are jailed”, was the headline in the newspapers in the month of March-2020. And here comes another story, not even a week old, “A man from Cheltenham (a town in Gloucestershire, England), jailed for more than five years for trafficking women to work in Brothels”.
Human trafficking is a complex issue and includes various factors behind its happening, not the poverty alone. The vulnerability to trafficking increases with various personal, economic, social and political factors. Civil unrest, war, and natural disasters add on to the growth of the crime.
Santosh Kumar, District Child Protection Officer, Seraikela Kharsawan district reveals, “We have come across a child who was trafficked in Delhi, locked to do domestic chores. She was beaten and harshly treated. Once, the door of the house was left unlocked and possessing the courage to escape, she ran and ran, continuously for 1 hour and landed on an unknown place. People there brought her to a nearby police station and that is how she was able to escape.”
According to him, “Poverty and lack of education are the main factors. With no idea of family planning, people go on breeding non-stop, and lack of income forces them to engage their child into labor.”
The false promises of a better life-style and a lie to lure one for a better guaranteed job in far off places are the tricks adopted by the dealers. When the person leaves their place and arrives at the destined place, they are imprisoned by the captors, are black-mailed and forced to do as per the captor’s choice.
“Faith, a girl was approached by a woman who promised her a job at a Nigerian restaurant in Italy. She thought this was her chance to begin a new life. When Faith arrived in Italy, however, she was informed that she had to pay back more than $50,000 in debt before she could leave. Her traffickers forced her into prostitution, telling her that they would kill her if she did not comply. Faith felt that she was always in danger and was even stabbed several times. She managed to escape and now works to help other women trapped in sex trafficking in Italy”, report by UN State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report, 2018.
Celebrity Comment on Netflix Film
Netflix film ‘365 Days’, based on a novel by Polish writer Blanka Lipinska, follows the story of a polish woman kidnapped and imprisoned by a Sicilian man. As of the media sources, singer Aimme Anne Duffy did criticize Netflix for streaming this film, saying that the film is glamorizing the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape.
Current Pandemic and Trafficking
Amidst the current pandemic, reports say that human trafficking may increase to its peak. Children are more likely to be the victim. The victims of forceful marriages are going through unpredictable trauma and pressure.
“Many people who experience domestic violence and trafficking are subject to an ongoing cycle of trauma. When partners behave abusively, they undermine the trust in the relationship, which makes their victims become more vulnerable to emotional or financial exploitation. This in turn exposes them to further victimization by intimates and strangers”, report by FYSB (Family & Youth Services Bureau), ACF, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.