New Delhi, July 14
Over 9,000 trafficked children were rescued from trains, buses and factories by law enforcement agencies since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, the Kailash Satyarthi Foundation said as its founder Kailash Satyarthi appealed for urgent passage of anti-trafficking bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
The Women and Child Development Ministry has invited suggestions from stakeholders on the draft ‘Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021’ which proposes severe punishment for aggravated forms of trafficking.
Elaborating on the draft bill, the ministry said its objective is to prevent and counter trafficking of people, especially women and children,
In the light of an alarming rise in cases of trafficking and forced labour in the country due to further impoverishment of poor families, Satyarthi has appealed for urgent passage of the bill in the upcoming Monsoon Session without further delay.
The passage of the bill through both Houses of Parliament will fulfill the demand of 12 lakh Indians who marched across 22 states and 12,000 km demanding a strong law against trafficking, said Satyarthi.
“The current pandemic has led to an aggravation of vulnerabilities of the marginalised children in India. They are now much more prone to various kinds of exploitation, especially trafficking and child labour,” The Kailash Satyarthi Foundation said in a statement.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a sister organisation of the KSCF, has rescued more than 9,000 trafficked children from trains, buses and factories along with law enforcement agencies since the beginning of the pandemic from across the entire country.
On the importance of the bill, Satyarthi said, “A strong anti-trafficking law is the moral and constitutional responsibility of our elected leaders, and a necessary step toward nation-building and economic progress. As long as children are bought and sold at lesser cost than cattle, no country can call itself civilised.”
“Covid-19 has caused a rise in trafficking, especially of women and children. We cannot take this lightly. A law for prevention, timely investigation, punishment for traffickers, and the protection and rehabilitation of survivors is a matter of urgency. I call on all parliamentarians to pass a strong and comprehensive anti-trafficking law in the upcoming session of Parliament. Our children, their freedom and dignity cannot wait,” he said.
Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021 covers aspects of trafficking by including various pertaining to trafficking, including aggravated forms of trafficking. It creates a dedicated institutional mechanism at district, state and national level to prevent and counter trafficking, and also for the protection and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking.
The existing bill has expanded definition of trafficking and victim and covers new forms of aggravated trafficking for the purpose of forced or bonded labour, debt bondage, slavery, servitude, sexual exploitation, biomedical research or trials, carrying out unlawful activities in places such as placement agencies, massage parlours, spas, travel agencies, circus, etc.
The bill also provides stringent punishment for offences of trafficking of women, or children, or transgenders under institutional care. The existing bill also ensures immediate monetary relief and compensation.
Under the bill, the designated court is entrusted the duty to record the statement of the victim through video conferencing, especially in case of transborder and inter-state crimes where the victim has been repatriated to any other State or country and is unable to appear before the court for the reasons of safety or confidentiality. — PTI