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Editorials/Opinions Analyses for UPSC – 28 July 2021

Content:

  1. Needed: an anti-trafficking law

Needed: an anti-trafficking law

Context:

  • The Government of India has proposed the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021.
  • This Bill aims to tackle all aspects of trafficking including the social and economic causes of the crime, punishment to traffickers, and the protection and rehabilitation of survivors.

Relevance:

  • GS Paper 2: Social Justice – Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Mains Questions:

  1. Human trafficking is a crime in itself, but it is also the propeller of several other crimes. Discuss. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Human Trafficking
  2. Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018
  3. Reasons for Human Trafficking
  4. Government Efforts against Trafficking
  5. Way Forward

About Human Trafficking

  • Elements of Human Trafficking: Trafficking in persons has three constituent elements:
    • The Act (What is done): Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons;
    • The Means (How it is done): Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim;
    • The Purpose (Why it is done): For exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.

Legislative Framework on Human Trafficking:

  • The Constitution of India:
    • Article 23 which prohibits trafficking in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour.
    • Article 39(e) and 39(f) which ordain that the health and strength of individuals are not abused and that no one is forced by the economic necessity to do work unsuited to their age or strength and that childhood and youth should be protected against exploitation.
  • Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956: It is the only legislation which specifically addresses Trafficking. It penalizes trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Other Legislations: There are some more legislations which directly or indirectly deal with human trafficking like:
    • Indian Penal Code, 1860;
    • Bonded labour system (Abolition) Act, 1976;
    • Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986;
    • Juvenile Justice Act, 2000;
    • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and
    • Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
    • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 (Nirbhaya Act)

Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018:

The main features of the bill include:

  • The confidentiality of victims/ witnesses and complainants by not disclosing their identity.
  • Time bound trial and repatriation of the victims – within a period of one year from taking into cognizance and designated courts in each district for the speedy trial of the cases.
  • Immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation.
  • Rehabilitation Fund created for the first time.
  • The Bill creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State and Central Level. National Investigation Agency (NIA) will perform the tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level present under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • Punishment ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh.

Reasons for Human Trafficking:

Poverty is one of the main driving force behind human trafficking. Other factors include:

  • Caste and gender-based discrimination along with commodification of women (bride trafficking)
  • Lack of resources and lack of human and social capital,
  • Social insecurity and exclusion,
  • Inadequate and outdated state policies,
  • Nexus of police and traffickers,
  • Unemployment,
  • Cheap child labour,
  • Lack of awareness etc.

Government Efforts against Trafficking

  • Project on “strengthening the law enforcement response in India against trafficking in persons through training and capacity building”: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in association with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has initiated a two year project for training the Law Enforcement Officers on human trafficking in four States, namely Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Coordination Meetings: The MHA conducts regular coordination meetings with the Nodal Officers of Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) of States/UTs for effective inter-state coordination.
    • Since ‘Police’ is a State subject, registration, investigation and prevention of human trafficking is primarily the responsibility of State Governments.
  • IGNOU Certificate Course: The course is mandatory for the Officers/Officials dealing with such cases to develop a comprehensive and functional understanding on anti-human trafficking.
  • Anti-Trafficking Cell: The MHA has set up a nodal cell for dealing with matters relating to trafficking in human beings.
  • Web Portal on Anti-Human Trafficking: A Website on Anti Human Trafficking has been launched.
  • Ujjawala Scheme: The Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing “Ujjawala” –a Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of Trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation, Re-integration and Repatriation of Victims of Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation. The Schemes provide shelter, food and clothing, counseling, medical care, legal aid and other support, vocational training and income generation activities for the victims.

Way Forward:

  • A strong anti-trafficking law is the moral and constitutional responsibility of our elected leaders, and a necessary step towards nation-building and economic progress.
  • It is non-negotiable for the realisation of an India that our Constitution-makers envisioned, our freedom fighters struggled for, our soldiers die for, and our children deserve. India is stepping into its 75th year of Independence.
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September 2022
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