519 fell victims to human trafficking in last 2 years in Kerala

As per the two-year data, the highest number of cases, 75, was registered in Kasaragod followed by Idukki with 49 cases and Ernakulam with 45 cases.
Representational image
Representational image(Express Illustrations)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A staggering 519 people — 236 children, 234 women and 49 men — from the state fell victims to human trafficking in the past two years, data from the police has revealed.

As per the official statistics of the police anti-human trafficking unit for the years 2022 and 2023, accessed by TNIE, 257 cases of human trafficking were registered in police stations across the state in the two years. The highest number of cases, 75, was registered in Kasaragod.

Year-wise breakup of the data showed that both the number of cases and the number of victims saw a drop in 2023 from 2022. While 152 cases were registered in 2022, 105 cases were registered in 2023. In 2022, 149 women and 143 children fell prey to traffickers, in comparison to 85 women and 93 children in 2023. From Kasaragod, 137 people — 22 men, 53 women and 62 children — fell victim to trafficking in the two years. As per the two-year data, Idukki was in second place with 49 cases, while Ernakulam was third with 45 cases.

Kasaragod district police chief P Bijoy said the numbers surge as police add IPC Section related to trafficking in grave crimes, such as rape, involving minors.

Laxity in probing human trafficking cases: Ex-DGP

“The cases are not related to trafficking of people to other countries. The police register kidnapping cases where minors are taken away without the consent of parents, and rape cases, where minors are victims, under the human trafficking head,” Kasaragod district police chief P Bijoy said.

Experts in the domain feel otherwise. P M Nair, retired DGP and former anti-human trafficking project coordinator with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said if the number of women and children who are yet to be traced is added to the list, the number of trafficking cases will see a marked jump.

He also said in cases of sex trafficking, there is usually laxity in the police investigation.

“In such cases, the police usually limit the probe to the destination. The investigation does not extend to the source, the place from where the victim was trafficked, and places where the victim stayed in transit. Similarly, the probe is conducted in a casual manner in cases of forced labour and child labour. If seriously probed, the number of human trafficking cases will rise manifold,” P M Nair said.

The police arrested 415 people, including 46 women, in human trafficking cases in the past two years. While 295 people were arrested in 2022, 116 were arrested in 2023. In Kasaragod, 106 people were arrested in the two years of whom five were women.

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