October 17, 2013 — India this year passed a "bill amending laws concerning sexual violence and making sex trafficking a criminal offense," but the "gap between enactment and enforcement remains unacceptably wide," a New York Times editorial states.
The editorial explains that "the United States State Department, the United Nations and India's Human Rights Commission all have identified India as a major hub in the international sex trade, a global phenomenon that may involve upwards of 27 million people." Although it is difficult "to know how many women and girls are trafficked in India," the country's "own sex trade is booming," the editorial states, citing a Times report on India's domestic and international participation in sex trafficking.
According to the editorial, the sex trade in India is exacerbated by "[p]ersistant poverty" that leads "vulnerable women and girls" and "desperate" parents to turn to it with the hope of employment and income. Rapid urbanization, the migration of men into India's growing cities and "a gender imbalance resulting from sex-selective abortions practices... has created a generation of young men who have little hope of finding female partners," the editorial states.
"Amending India's laws is a good step, but a law is only as good as its enforcement," the editorial continues, adding that widespread corruption in India facilitates the sex trade. The editorial calls for stronger disciplinary actions against corrupt law enforcement officials and police, "speedy prosecution and stiff sentences" for those who commit sex crimes and increased efforts to resolve "historic patterns of discrimination" and educate disadvantaged girls.
"Until attitudes in India toward women change and poor children gain the skills they need to take control of their futures, sex trafficking and the damage it inflicts will continue," the editorial concludes (New York Times, 10/16).