Young women and girls trafficked for sex may have been enticed, deceived or kidnapped. They are forced to have sex with clients, anywhere between ten and twenty-five a day. If they try to resist, they may be beaten mercilessly with belts, sticks or iron rods until they submit. Alternatively they may be drugged or forced to drink alcohol until senseless.
Women and girls at risk
As well as the humility and indignity, and denial of freedom, there is also a significant risk of violence against the women and girls from both clients and brothel owners. Trafficked sex workers are threatened if they should try to leave or escape. There is increased risk of illness and death due to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. When a sex worker becomes ill, they are likely to be cast aside and left to suffer since they are now useless to their employer.
Some brothel owners and traffickers want to breed the girls. Their sons become bonded labourers, and their daughters become prostitutes. In addition, the owner now has hostages to force the mother to cooperate.
Scope and scale
According to Indian government figures there are 3 million prostitutes in India, and of these 1.2 million are children. Some NGOs believe that there may be as many as 15 million sex workers in India. Either way, the proportion of those who are trafficked, coerced, deceived or forced by circumstances is considerable.
Although most sex-trafficking is to supply girls for brothels and escort agencies, increasingly trafficking is taking place for pornography, including filming and live feeds for the internet, and to feed the growing appetite for sex-tourism. There is also a trade in boys for sexual exploitation.
Interstate and intrastate
The vast majority of those trafficked for sex are women and girls from Dalit, Tribal or other poor and marginalised communities. Most trafficking (around 90%) is internal to India, much of it being interstate, or even within a state, such as the large numbers from rural West Bengal trafficked into Kolkata There are some areas and routes where this trade is flourishing, for example, from the north east of the country into Delhi or Mumbai. There are also large numbers of Dalits and Tribal women and children - trafficked into India particularly from Nepal and Bangladesh. Find out more in DFN UK's booklet 'Broken Lives'.
Dalit Freedom Network UK wants to prevent the sex trafficking of women and girls from Dalit, tribal and other poor and marginalised communities in India.
Help Free A Woman through our trafficking prevention and economic empowerment programmes.