Support The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018
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Suriya was only eleven when he was trafficked almost 1500 kilometers away from home. For five long years, he worked tirelessly under dangerous conditions in a confectionery unit.
His father was lured to part with him for a pittance advance amount of Rs.1000. He thought Suriya would be treated well in a company and would repay the advance through his labour. His family lived in such deep poverty that an additional income was always welcome.
Suriya was forced to work almost 16 hours a day without good food or proper sleep. The kitchen where he worked was hot and humid, with no proper ventilation or airflow. Under the constant watch of the factory owners, he was verbally abused and beaten when he wanted to rest or asked to visit their families.
Eventually, his father contacted the police through an NGO and with the help of local NGOs and officials, Suriya was found after six months of relentless search.
Surya is one among millions who are trafficked every year!
What is human trafficking?
UNODC defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Human trafficking is the world's third fastest growing criminal industry. Though illegal in India, it remains a source of major concern in the country. While there are several sections of the law that have been invoked to curb the crime, there is no single, comprehensive law that addresses human trafficking as an organised crime.
To add to this, current laws have little clarity on dealing with inter-state trafficking cases. This was one major challenge in Suriya's case. There is no single body to handle human trafficking cases on a national level.
How can we address this crime?
The proposed Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection & Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 will have the power to investigate interstate, cross border and transnational human trafficking. It seeks to cover all forms of trafficking which have not been covered in previous laws such as Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and Child Labour Act (CLPRA).
Fair and professional criminal Investigation is key to uncover the facts. Intelligence collection and sharing is also key for crime prevention for an organized crime like this. An exclusive and specialized, National Anti-Trafficking Bureau, which will be set up through this Bill will investigate and prevent the organized crime of human trafficking from the national to district level.
The Bill for the first time also recognizes the root of causes of human trafficking and mandates interventions to prevent the crime by working on issues that aggravates the vulnerability of communities.
Why should you support this bill?
- It is a victim-centric Bill. The Bill makes rehabilitation a right of the victim. The process of rehabilitation programs are also clearly defined.
- The Bill makes it possible for prosecution to freeze bank accounts connected with the offence and seize properties and premises connected with trafficking, acting as a deterrent to potential traffickers.
- The Bill ensures protection of victims, witnesses and complainants, paving the way for them to testify boldly and truthfully. It will also deter perpetrators and send a strong message that victims are not without recourse to the law.
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