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“Every Life Lost In Trafficking Is One Too Many”: An Open Letter To The GOI

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Hon’ble Members of Parliament
Parliament of India
New Delhi

Subject: VIMUKTI’s appeal to incorporate necessary changes in the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021 passed by the Cabinet – Reg.,

Dear Hon’ble Members of the Parliament,

VIMUKTI is a State Level Collective of Survivors of sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and women in prostitution, based in Andhra Pradesh. We are the leaders of VIMUKTHI and also the A.P. State Chapter of the Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT), a national platform formed by the survivors and for the survivors of human trafficking.

Article 23 of the Constitution of India prohibits Trafficking of Persons and some legislations deal with different forms of trafficking but to date, we do not have comprehensive legislation that looks at this problem as an organized crime or as a fast-growing criminal enterprise. Consequently, trafficking of human beings in India goes unabated with impunity and millions of lives are destroyed every day. Every life lost in trafficking is one too many!

VIMUKTI State-Level Round Table Meet.

The new draft Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care & Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021 is victim-centric, empowers the survivors, and addresses the organized crime of human trafficking the way it deserves, making it economically unviable. We urge Mrs. Smriti Z Irani, our beloved Minister for Women & Child Welfare to place the Bill before the parliament in this monsoon session.

Appealing to Hon’ble PM Shri Narendra Modi and all the esteemed parliamentarians to unanimously pass the Bill and pave the way for a ’human trafficking free India’.

In the 75th Year of Independence, let’s finally have comprehensive legislation to end this modern-day form of slavery, human trafficking.

Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021: Submissions from VIMUKTI:  Salient Points of the Recommendations:

  • While several necessary measures in ensuring care, dignity, and rehabilitation have been mentioned in the Bill, it has not fixed the accountability on any one body to ensure that the provisions in this Bill are met. For example, in Chapter (V).
  • There is no dedicated Rehabilitation fund mentioned in the Bill. A dedicated fund must be maintained for relief, rehabilitation, compensation, and funds for inter and intrastate investigations.
  • Re-integration of the victim with the society and family and Community Based Rehabilitation is the most crucial aspect of rehabilitation. The Bill emphasizes re-integration but does not define Community Based Rehabilitation or how it will ensure re-integration and its outcome parameters.
  • The Bill makes no more than one mention to Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) in the Bill. AHTUs dedicated to only investigating trafficking cases, with trained and sensitized police officers, NGOs, and trafficking survivors, are crucial in ensuring higher conviction rates and treatment of victims with care and dignity. Though various States have set up AHTUs, we don’t have anything uniform throughout the country that will make it mandatory that AHTUs investigate human trafficking cases. Therefore, a law that would set out the procedures and clarity on what will be taken up by which body is essential. Hence the inclusion of this point in the statute. A lot depends on the quality of investigations. As survivors who have gone through these processes, we have experienced a stark difference in how AHTUs handle these cases and how an overburdened police station handles them.
  • There’s mention of inter-State investigation, but the Bill doesn’t mention any fund for such investigation. Nor does the Bill mention who/which body is responsible for drafting the reports of inter-State investigation. The Bill also lacks clarity on how and where the survivors can access these reports.
  • The Bill needs to give more agency to the victim regarding their say on the duration of their stay in protection and rehabilitation homes. Long-term institutional rehabilitation should be the exception, not the rule. We have faced the tyranny of forceful detention in protection and rehabilitation homes without our consent. The answer for a rescued victim of trafficking is not to put them in indefinite detention without their will and choice.
  • To execute all the provisions of these Bill in spirit, it will take capacity augmentation of all the institutions involved in discharging the provisions.

The government must ensure that they work on increasing this capacity and allocate adequate resources. VIMUKTI and ILFAT AP State Chapter urge the Prime Minister of India and MPs to take the above recommendations to the notice of the Government and incorporate necessary changes in the Bill before producing it in the house of parliament for making it comprehensive and victim-friendly legislation.

Yours Sincerely,

VIMUKTI State Level Forum and ILFAT State Chapter of A.P.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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