The Lok Sabha passed a comprehensive law to deal with the menace of human trafficking last week. Members supported the Bill cutting across party lines. However, the president of Goa’s prominent NGO – ARZ – that deals with cases of child-trafficking – opined that the law was like taking one step forward and two steps behind.
“The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Prosecution) Bill, 2018 is like taking one step forward and two steps back. The Bill, if passed in the present form, will cause more harm than good,” Arun Pandey, Director Arz, a social work organisation that works towards combating trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation in Goa, said.
He said the Bill was mostly a repeat of whatever had been already provided in The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act of 1956 and in the recent judgments of the high courts and the Supreme court.
“Nothing new or extraordinary has been proposed in the Bill. The provisions for the special police officer, special court, special prosecutors are already proposed in the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956 but in most of the states, it is not being implemented,” he added.
Pandey said the bill was not gender neutral, and added that there was no provision for rehabilitation of transgenders and male victims of child sexual exploitation.
The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 lays special focus on the rehabilitation of survivors of trafficking.
It also has provisions for enhancement of punishment, where the minimum years of imprisonment under the law would be 10 years, and for protection of identity of the survivors.
The Bill, which was passed ahead of the World Day Against Trafficking tomorrow, received a mixed response from activists across India.
Some said the Bill might impact people who were into sex work voluntarily and give more powers to lawyers, police officers and the judiciary to interpret the law as they pleased.