Anti – human trafficking bill: The situation demands strict action against traffickers instead of apathetic promises

 

By Sanjukta Biswas

 

Recently there has been a spur in the Ministry of Women and Child Development as the minister of the department, Maneka Gandhi, has unveiled the country’s first comprehensive draft about the anti-human trafficking. The draft aims at treating the survivors as victims, providing assistance and protection to them instead of treating as criminals.

Article 23(1) clearly states that trafficking of human beings and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offense act of punishment in accordance with the law. To fight against such evil of the society, the government had made laws and Nodal Anti-trafficking cell in 2006 for communicating various action plans and follow ups among the State government and other non-governmental organisation. India has ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNCTOC) on May, 2011 as well as its Protocols Prevention, Suppression and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons, particularly Women and Children.

Though various steps have been taken to shut down the mishaps growing in the country, the government and law procedure have major loop holes. First of all, in India we fail to recognise and punish labour trafficking as a form of human trafficking reflected in its Bonded Labour Act, and due to this large number of unregistered cases human trafficking takes place. This clause is identifies and studied by University of Chicago Law School, Cornell Law School and Jindal Global Law School, India and the report is given in year 2015.

India has been categorised under Tier2 in the Trafficking in Person (Tip) report, as per the US State department. The major reason behind this is “India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking”. The new bill unveiled by the Minister has no clause regarding the above mentioned issue; instead the bill aims at increasing penalties for the offenders and to set up special courts and an organised crime investigation agency.

The corruption in the State has plagued the Indian Criminal justice system, due to which arrest rate of traffickers has been as low as 3.7% as per NCRB, 2011. Not only are arrests and convictions extremely infrequent, but many law enforcement officials will not even file reports given by the women who muster the courage to speak against their offenders. Many officers work in conjunction with brothel owners and traffickers, tipping them off to any possible raids. In the 2015 TIP report, these issues have continued and are commonplace throughout the country.

Illiteracy and poverty has further paralysed the situation. Urban poverty has spawned the society to force parents of urban poor to sell their children in hope of extra income. The anti-human trafficking laws in India are inconsistent with the present scenario and thus demands strict actions rather than false apathetic promises.