How human trafficking impacts lives

Written by Amy Horsfield

Human trafficking affects millions of people across the globe. It is a crime which involves coercing a person into forced labour, services or sex work. Anyone is vulnerable to traffickers but those from marginalised communities, homeless or impoverished children are often the most at risk from such crimes.

It is estimated that around 8 million people are affected by human trafficking in India alone. ( ) Women are girls are often particularly at risk from trafficking. This is a trend that is reflected across the world where 71 per cent of all people affected by trafficking are women and girls ( ).

Women are often trafficked for sexual exploitation, with a reported 3 women and girls entering the sex industry against their will every hour in India. ( ).

Forced marriage is also a huge threat to girls in India. Young women and girls from poor communities, limited education and restricted access to wider media compared to boys are the most at risk from child marriage.

Girls and boys in India are often frequently targeted by traffickers to be made to work in factories, as domestic workers or beggars and agricultural workers. Homeless children are especially vulnerable to these forms of trafficking alongside children from impoverished backgrounds who are at risk from threats and manipulation by traffickers.

There are numerous reasons why the crime of human trafficking affects so many people living in India. The population of the country, which is expected to overtake China as the most populous country in the world within the next few years, contributes to the number of Indian citizens living in poverty.

In the state of Punjab in Northern India, the dream of a brighter future abroad in continents such as Europe is treasured. Billboards are adorned with posters promoting the idealised future of a better life abroad ( With many people living in poverty and struggling to find employment, traffickers prey on vulnerable individuals with opportunities to work abroad.

Almost 1 in 4 people trafficked in Punjab are women. The reasons why they are trafficked can range from forced labour to sexual services, but many are lured by their traffickers with false promises of job opportunities in Europe.

Many survivors say they were promised safe passage into European countries where they would be granted legal documents and work visas in their respective cities. Once there, all contact with their trafficker is ceased and many people find themselves in trouble at the hands of immigration officers as the documents they had been given by their trafficker are revealed to be fake. Others are forced into various labour roles.

Human trafficking remains a devastating crime which affects millions of people all over the world. South Asia, with India at it’s centre, is one of the fastest growing regions for human trafficking in the world. Find out how you can support the growing yoga movement tackling human trafficking in India here.

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