India is home to an estimated 14 million victims of human trafficking. Despite being illegal, forced and bonded labour are widespread and commercial sexual exploitation and child labour persist, often with impunity for perpetrators and limited legal recourse for victims. Victims often require legal assistance from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and independent lawyers. This assistance is wide-ranging, from ensuring claims are registered by the police through to briefing public prosecutors or pursuing other remedies for victims. However, legal resources and capacity are extremely limited and there is huge scope to scale up the fight against trafficking through the use of strategic legal initiatives. This report examines the legal challenges faced by victims of human trafficking in India and makes key recommendations on legal strategies to combat trafficking and improve legal outcomes for victims. The report considers how trafficking victims, NGOs, independent (non-government) lawyers and other stakeholders navigate the criminal justice system in India, highlighting the challenges they face, from the initial filing of a claim through to trial. The introduction presents the scale of trafficking in India, the research methodology and key legal definitions. The key findings of the report are highlighted in Chapter 2 and recommendations for funders are discussed in Chapter 3. The recommendations focus on practical legal strategies to combat trafficking and obtain justice for victims. Chapter 4 presents examples of trafficking case studies in India. For a comprehensive summary of the legal framework in India, including key legislation and case law, see Appendix 1. While prosecutions alone will not bring an end to trafficking, there is immense potential to use legal strategies to deliver justice to victims, deter potential perpetrators and put traffickers out of business.
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The Freedom Fund identifies and invests in the most effective frontline efforts to eradicate modern slavery in the countries and sectors where it is most prevalent. Partnering with visionary investors, governments, anti-slavery organisations and those at risk of exploitation, they tackle the systems that allow slavery to persist and thrive.