The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care And Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021 is a bill to prevent and counter the trafficking of women and children as well as provide protection and rehabilitation for victims. It also ensures to create a supportive legal and economic environment and also prosecution for offenders. The Bill was first introduced in 2018; however, it received a lot of criticism from the opposition in Lok Sabha. The Bill offers protection to Indians both inside and outside the country. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will be responsible for the prevention of human trafficking and the prosecution of offenders. Various Anti Human Trafficking Units and committees on national, state, and district levels were formed as preventive and rehabilitative agencies. They take measures to protect and prevent vulnerable people from human trafficking.
Preventives Measures Undertaken
Coordinating with statutory bodies, institutions, organizations like local governments and Panchayat Rajs to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of victims and separated from their perpetrators and avid occurrences of re-trafficking and re-traumatization of any victim. The committees are also responsible for facilitating livelihood and education for victims and vulnerable persons. The coordination between State agencies will be made to undertake joint operations to prevent human trafficking. The committees are also responsible for preparing annual reports on the offenses under human trafficking and also generate awareness in public. Protection Homes
The government and non-Governmental organizations will set up protection homes in every district of a State for immediate care and protection of victims. Each district will have at least one home each for children and women. The government will also set up one protection home for victims other than women and children at State or Union level. These protection homes will provide shelter, security, food, clothing, legal assistance, counseling, medical care, police assistance, and other services in an integrated manner.
Rehabilitation homes are also set up district level and are maintained by non-Governmental organizations for long-term care and protection of victims who are women and children. State-level rehabilitation homes are set for victims who are transgenders for long-term care and rehabilitation. The District Magistrate regularly ensures the inspections done by an Executive Magistrate at least once every three months in all protection and rehabilitation homes as well as other housing facilities given to the victims.
The victims will be treated with dignity and respect and will not be subjected to nascent or human behavior just because they are victims in Protection and rehabilitation homes.
Offenses and Penalties Listed In the Bill
Trafficking in persons includes anyone who recruits, transports, transfers, harbors, or receives another person using threat, use of force, coercion, or abduction to receive benefits and payments to exploit the person will be considered guilty. The guilty will be imprisoned for seven to ten years and will also be fined an amount between one lakh rupees and five lakh rupees.
Criticisms Against the Bill
One of the major criticisms is that it is unclear how NIA as a nodal agency will gather information and intelligence from the various Anti-Human Trafficking Units at district and state levels. The 2018 bill also included prostitution as human trafficking, which takes away the interests of consensus consensual adults sex laborers. It makes no clauses for rehabilitation or recourse to medical services of recovered females. The absence of community-based rehabilitation is another major concern. The proposed Bill does not include “Rescue Guidelines,” which are essential for human trafficking. The lack of rescue guidelines might lead to the risk of the forcible rescue of adults who have been exploited but would not want to be rescued.
Draft Anti-Trafficking Bill
The present draft has expanded the nature of offenses and the kind of victims. It has introduced stringent punishments like life imprisonment in case of child trafficking of multiple children and even the death penalty in extreme cases. The Bill included defense personnel and government servants, doctors and paramedical staff, or anyone in a position of authority as an offender. Exploitation includes the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, including pornography. It also includes physical exploitation, forced labor, slavery, or practices similar to slavery. Aside from these, it also includes forcefully removing organs, clinical drug trials done illegally, or non-legal bio-medical research. The Bill also extends beyond the protection of women and children as victims because it now includes transgender and any person who may be victims of trafficking. It also removes the provision that victims need to be transported from one place to another to be defined as a victim.