Tripti Tandon, deputy director, Lawyers Collective
The rescue and rehabilitation provisions in the bill are outdated. The bill falls back on outmoded methods of rescuing and detaining victims in the name of rehabilitation.
Protection homes and rehabilitation homes remain the mainstay of rehabilitation under the anti-trafficking bill even though institutionalisation of victims in homes, ostensibly for their protection and rehabilitation, is antithetical to fundamental rights and re-integration.
The new bill is in interplay with existing laws. The last legislation defines trafficking under indian Penal code (ipc) sections 370 and 370a. Section 371 of the penal code criminalises slavery. Sections 372 and 373 of the penal code criminalise buying and selling of underage girls for prostitution. We already have the immoral Traffic (Prevention) act, 1956, which criminalises activities related to prostitution and provides rescue, rehabilitation and correction of sex workers, albeit through a moral lens. The Juvenile Justice act, 2015, provides a framework for protection of children who are missing or at risk of being trafficked. The Bonded labour System act, the contract labour act, 1970, the inter-state migrant Workmen (regulation of Employment and conditions of Service) act, 1979, children (Pledging of labour) act, 1933, and the child labour (regulation and Prohibition) act, 1986, which deal with forced labour, child labour, primarily through regulation and welfare-oriented measures.
The government has not abolished these acts, but is creating a new law. The new bill fails to define trans sex workers and sex workers, creating more hassles for victims. in such a scenario, it only creates more and more confusion for police and the legal system. it creates extra paperwork for the administration. much of what is proposed already existed in the law. The bill, in the name of rehabilitation, is only imposing surveillance and restricts victims’ freedom.”