February 13, 2018
11 months

Critically examine the shortcomings in the Trafficking of persons (prevention, protection and Rehabilitation) bill, 2016. (200 words)

Refer – The Hindu

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IAS Parliament 11 months


Shortcomings in the drafted bill

·        Understanding – The policy makers largely mistake trafficking to be equivalent only to sex trafficking and sex work.

·        The men, women and children who are routinely trafficked for marriage, domestic labour or bonded labour in fields, mines, and textile and beedi factories are ignored.

·        Moral policing – The provision in the Draft Bill that allows, among others, any social worker or public-spirited citizen to ‘rescue’ and ‘produce’ a ‘victim’ before the District Anti-Trafficking Committees it proposes to set up.

·        This opens the door to exactly the kind of moral policing.

·        It could lead to harassment of not just sex workers but other ordinary people by overzealous, vigilante citizens.

·        Ignored Voluntary Prostitution – By continuing to conflate “prostitution” with “commercial sexual exploitation”, the Draft Bill goes completely against the long demanded rights of adults who stay in prostitution voluntarily.

·        Mixed approach – It is important to treat trafficking in children, adult trafficked labour, and forced sex work as separate categories, but the Draft Bill mixes up everything.

·        Violation of constitutional freedoms – Article 22 gives a detained individual the right to consult a lawyer and be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours.

·        But, the Draft Bill allows persons to be directly produced before the member-secretaries of its District Anti-Trafficking Committees.

·        The Committees can independently recommend that a victim be repatriated to her home State (or another State) for increased protection.

·        This contravenes Article 19, which grants citizens the right to move freely across, and reside anywhere in, the country.

·        The enormous power and little accountability that is vested in the proposed District Committees are troubling.

What should be done?

·        The legislation should be comprehensive enough to address all forms of trafficking.

·        The policies should consider:

a)     a multi-faceted legal and economic strategy

b)     a robust implementation of existing labour laws

c)      improved labour inspection, including in informal economy

d)     corporate accountability for decent work conditions

e)     self-organisation of workers

·        There is also the need for systemic reforms to counter distress migration, and to end caste-based discrimination.

·        Proper enforcement of the rural employment guarantee legislation would help in this regard.

·        This would also avoid voluntary sex work and protect migrants’ mobility and rights.

·        Adult trafficked persons must be consulted and made aware of their rights so that they can take informed and independent decisions.

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