Anti- traf­fick­ing Bill draft says so­lic­it­ing in pub­lic not a crime

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Yo­gesh Pawar p_ yo­gesh@ dnain­dia. net

The third draft of the an­ti­traf­fick­ing Bill re­leased by the Union Min­istry of Women and Child De­vel­op­ment is send­ing shock­waves across the coun­try. Un­der the new law, brothel keep­ing, de­tain­ing any­one ( eg. with­hold­ing pass­port, work per­mit, other doc­u­ments, pay­ments, sav­ings, jew­ellery, child or clothes) and pimp­ing will no more be a crime. It also does away with the clear, spe­cific and elab­o­rate pro­vi­sion against so­lic­it­ing in pub­lic places as it ex­ists in the cur­rent law ITPA Sec 8( b).

“Pimps will be able to so­licit any­where in pub­lic places and of­fer pros­ti­tute’s ser­vices to any­one. Hence, it will no longer be a crime un­der the new law which also does away with pro­vi­sions against car­ry­ing out pros­ti­tu­tion in the vicin­ity of schools, col­leges, hos­pi­tals and tem­ples and places of wor­ship,” an aghast anti- traf­fick­ing ex­pert Dr Pravin Patkar told dna. He added: “Car­ry­ing out pros­ti­tu­tion in a res­i­den­tial build­ing at pub­lic an­noy­ance will no more be a crime un­der the new law. Shady char­ac­ters vis­it­ing your build­ing will not face any le­gal con­se­quences.”

Patkar whose or­gan­i­sa­tion - Pr­erana has been work­ing with sex work­ers com­mu­ni­ties since 1986 to end in­ter­gen­er­a­tional pros­ti­tu­tion also dis­missed the draft’s claim that it is the ‘ first sin­gle com­pre­hen­sive law against hu­man traf­fick­ing.’ “This is wholly in­cor­rect! The draft merely shifts the def­i­ni­tion of traf­fick­ing from its ex­ist­ing place in Sec 370 of the In­dian Pe­nal Code ( IPC) af­ter dis­tort­ing and mak­ing it in­ef­fec­tive. It is silent on traf­fick­ing for sur­ro­gacy, bride traf­fick­ing, or­gan­ised beg­gary and or­gan trade, ex­cept for list­ing them un­der ex­pla­na­tion of forms of ex­ploita­tion in Sec 1. It drops pros­ti­tu­tion as a form of ex­ploita­tion un­der the def­i­ni­tion of traf­fick­ing,” said Patkar.

How­ever, Patkar isn’t alone. Anti- traf­fick­ing ex­pert - Meena Seshu of the Na­tional Net­work of Sex Work­ers ( NNSW) too, has raised an alarm over what they call “glar­ing anom­alies,” even in the third draft, and, ex­pressed shock and sur­prise at how glar­ing mis­takes with far reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions have been al­lowed to creep in, de­spite nu­mer­ous sug­ges­tions sent in by sev­eral NGOs and ex­perts work­ing in the area. “In­dian laws con­tinue to be cen­tred around traf­fick­ing for sex­ual ex­ploita­tion and abol­ish­ing of sex work,” com­plained Seshu.

“A siz­able num­ber of per­sons through fraud, de­ceit and co­er­cion get traf­ficked for forced labour in var­i­ous ar­eas, where peo­ple are forced to work for a pit­tance and in ter­ri­ble work con­di­tions. A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of poor peo­ple get duped for or­gan trans­plan­ta­tion. Why is the draft bill silent on pro­vi­sions for pre­ven­tion, res­cue and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of those co­erced into forced labour ( do­mes­tic work, work­ing in zari units, cracker fac­to­ries, brick kilns and agricult u re ) o r f or org a n trans­plan­ta­tion?” ques­tioned Patkar.

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