By Florence Middleton

The industry of human trafficking produces a $12 billion annual profit internationally, making the trafficking of women the third most lucrative crime. It is outperformed only by the trafficking of arms and drugs; however, international forced labor is expected to soon rise to second place above the international drug trade. Evidently, human trafficking remains one of the greatest challenges of this world. Although many of the states plagued with human trafficking are developing states, not all are. Human trafficking, therefore, remains a problem for every nation.

The realist perspective states that problems related to human rights are not prioritized because countries are preoccupied with other, more pressing issues, such as security, survival, and power relations between states. However, I argue with a liberal perspective that by addressing international human trafficking, security is increased, and therefore can and should be prioritized. If countries that are detrimentally affected by trafficking, like India, place a greater priority on addressing the root causes of this issue, then the decrease in the flow of human trafficking can influence other, more prioritized issues such as economic development and security.

Although resource problems keep India and other developing countries from investing in trafficking prevention, other nations, like the US, have the capacity to invest in fighting human trafficking. Again, the realist perspective will doubt the willingness of investment and will focus instead on the argument that the US, already committed to two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, does not have the capacity to allocate resources to foreign human rights issues. However, although human trafficking may not be a main priority for powers like the US, it is possible that by using resources towards prioritized issues abroad, such as security in Afghanistan and bettering relations with Pakistan (due to its relationship with the Taliban), a possible side effect is that the root causes of trafficking are simultaneously addressed.

This paper examines India’s relationship with both Afghanistan and Pakistan and explains how US investment in India’s development helps the US, and can consequently decrease human trafficking in India. In summary, the US has incentive to invest in India, because India’s relationships with Pakistan and Afghanistan can influence the US’s wars against terrorism. Although human trafficking is not a priority issue for India or the US, by investing in India’s overall growth, the US strategically improves its position in the wars while addressing root causes of trafficking without having to specifically allocate additional resources.

Multiple efforts have already been made to eradicate trafficking by the US, the UN, and India; however, because they did not address root causes in their policies, they have failed to make a substantial impact while the problem continues to grow. If these countries are to invest in the fight against trafficking in the future—possibly motivated by the realization that doing so addresses their main priorities—then to effectively do so, they must identify and specifically address the root causes of trafficking or their efforts will be futile.

This research paper begins by addressing the past policies on human trafficking, like the US’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the UN’s Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking Persons, Especially Women and Children, and India’s Immoral Traffic Prevention Act. Additionally, the root causes of trafficking are identified, specifically in India, hypothesizing that if anti-human trafficking policies and US investment in Indo-American relations focused on addressing root causes like education, quality of court systems and police, and accuracy of trafficking data, then the rates of human rights violations from forced labor in countries like India would decrease. Overall, what is essential regardless of who is investing in the fight against human trafficking is that the root causes need to be addressed.

The full paper can be viewed here.



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