human trafficking interactive game

Ghost Criminals

According to government data, almost 20,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 per cent from the previous year, with the highest number of cases recorded in West Bengal. Experts say the syndicates are exploiting the deepening internet and smartphone penetration in rural and remote India. Use of technology has turned traffickers into “ghost criminals” as previously the trade required physical interaction but now they are luring people on the pretext of jobs, money and marriage on mobiles.

Technology is an aid that can be leveraged in any way possible. The use of technology allows traffickers to carry out all their illegal activities with minimal fear of getting caught. They use smartphones, laptops, anything that is portable, simple to use and helps to avoid law enforcement detection. Someone with little or to no education can operate and access the many features of the devices. One device is so small that it will fit into your pocket and facilitate all aspects of commercial sexual exploitation- communication, payment, tracking and collaboration.

Click to Buy

Communication with potential buyers via phone or even private messaging apps are very common. A cell phone service contract is not required if there is access to wifi which makes the phone difficult to track. Smartphones are GPS enabled which allow the traffickers to track every movement of the victims, they can display dominance and control by keeping tabs on the victims. Payments can be made discreetly, buyer pays in advance through a reloadable prepaid card or an app and the trafficker reduces losses while moving money around. Portability ensures that transactions can be initiated anytime, anywhere with anyone. There is no need to stand in a street corner to strike a ‘deal’ anymore. Everything is arranged prior to the meeting. Social media plays a big part in the recruitment and communication with potential victims.

According to a global survey report, India has the largest population of modern slaves in the world, with more than 18 million people trapped as bonded labourers, forced beggars, sex workers and child soldiers.The Global Slavery Index by human rights organisation Walk Free Foundation said the number was 1.4 per cent of India’s population. Nirnay John Chettri, president of the NGO, Mankind in Action for Rural Growth (MARG) says “With the increase in mobile connectivity, cases of human trafficking have shot up dramatically in the hills. Earlier, these traffickers used to visit the villages and meet parents to convince them to take their kids to metro cities. But now with Facebook and WhatsApp, we don’t know who we are chasing”.

Like any other thing, technology doesn’t come without its problems. That being said, tracking the activities of the criminals will show patterns which will help in detecting further activities and stop them.

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