Hon’ble Members of Parliament
Parliament of India
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!
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.
VIMUKTI State Level Forum and ILFAT State Chapter of A.P.