The Sound of Freedom Needs to Be Heard in India!
Population: 1.3 billion
Christian percentage: 2.2
Dominant Religion: Hinduism
Persecution Ranking: 10
Have you seen the movie “Sound of Freedom”? It’s about human trafficking in Latin America, but the situation is worldwide, including India. They might use the victim as an unwilling organ donor, a domestic servant, a beggar, a child soldier or a prostitute. In India, they use girls as wives for men in places like Haryana where there is an uneven sex ratio.
For centuries, the Indian state of West Bengal has suffered from natural disasters such as floods and cyclones. It is in a low-lying area that gets flooded regularly. Survivors are sent to refugee camps and shelters. Each time this happens, traffickers come to take advantage of poor families that have lost their harvest. Sometimes traffickers approach parents, telling them about a bogus work opportunity for their child. Others go directly to the children themselves.
Girls who want more work opportunities are especially vulnerable to their lies. One common technique is to tell the victim she will earn good money. Instead, criminals force victims into debt. Out of their meager wages, they owe for transportation, food and lodging, and the end result is greater debt.
To recruit unwilling prostitutes, brothels use a woman who herself was trafficked as a child. She promises the girl a job. At other times, a young man uses romance as a deadly hook, convincing her on social media to meet him. Then he takes her to a place where she is beaten, raped and forced into prostitution.
More often than not a child never re-unites with her family, but those who do return face a cruel surprise. Instead of dealing with her as a victim, the community puts her through shame and ridicule for being trafficked. Communities view her as immoral if she was forced into sex slavery. This makes her situation even more unbearable. Some turn to drugs or fall into severe depression. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is very common. A small number excuse and identify with their captors, blaming themselves for the ordeal.
There is a great need for Christian counselors to help all involved. Families and communities need to understand those who have been trafficked are victims who had no choice in the matter. Potential victims need to learn how to identify and avoid human traffickers. Ideally, those who are vulnerable should learn marketable skills, so they don’t accept the bait of traffickers.
There are efforts to help in these areas, but they are few and far between. India’s population is so large, and the poverty rate is so high that it’s hard to reach everyone. This is where loving Christians can make a huge difference.
- Borgen Magazine. Addressing Human Trafficking in India. March 7, 2023.
- The Guardian. ‘I trusted him’: human trafficking surges in cyclone-hit east India. June 13, 2023
- The Diplomat. For Indian Girls, ‘Every Case of Trafficking Is a Failed Revolution. September 20, 2022.
- World Vision. Surviving trafficking in India: Samira’s story. February 3, 2021.