Bengaluru: Stricter punishment and penalties against trafficking have been proposed in a draft law prepared by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The most significant change proposed to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 is that the definition of child for the purposes of the law has been changed from “a person who has not completed the age of sixteen years” to “a person under the age of eighteen years”.
The draft widens the definition of trafficking to include the entire range of exploitation. It states: “’Trafficking in persons’ shall mean 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. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
Another significant proposal is a ‘whistleblower’ clause that aims to protect anyone who assists in the detection of cases of trafficking. “A provision providing protective mechanisms, immunities and safeguards for the members of voluntary agencies who take initiatives for preventing, trafficking, facilitating rescue or carrying out victims protection activities to be included in consultation with the Ministry of Law and Justice,” it stated.
Referring to gender neutrality, it states, “The words ‘his’ and ‘her’ wherever occur in the Act should be substituted by a gender neutral word for example ‘person' so as to cover both sexes.”
Ms Tara Krishnaswamy of Citizens for Bengaluru told this newspaper, “The bill is still with the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development. If the law is passed, it will be a great step in the fight against trafficking.”
Women’s rights activist Aasha Ramesh said, “This will be a good step to help curb trafficking. We don’t just need laws, we need them to be enforced.”...