The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2017

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2017, initiated by the women & child development ministry, is currently with a group of ministers (GoM) that will take a final view on the matter. The Bill has proposed severe punishment for those engaging in the heinous crime.

Highlights of the Bill:

Forms of trafficking: The Bill identifies various forms of trafficking, including for the purposes of bonded labour, sexual exploitation, pornography, removal of organs and begging. Listing out the ‘aggravated forms of trafficking’, the bill also speaks of offences such as intimidation, inducement, a promise of payment of money, deception or coercion. It mentions trafficking after administering any drug or alcohol or for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage.

Punishment: Whoever commits the offence of an aggravated form of trafficking of a person shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years, but which may extend to life imprisonment and shall be liable to fine that shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh. For repeat offenders, it suggests imprisonment for life “which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life”, apart from a fine that will not be less than Rs 2 lakh.

Anti-trafficking bureau: The bill proposes the establishment of a national anti-trafficking bureau, which shall be entrusted with the gamut of issues aimed at controlling and tackling the menace under various forms.

Functions of the Bureau: Functions include coordination, monitoring and surveillance of illegal movement of persons and prevention. The bureau will also be entrusted with increasing cooperation with authorities in foreign countries for boosting operational and long-term intelligence for investigation of trafficking cases and driving in mutual legal assistance.

State level measures: The bill also aims at having state-level anti-trafficking officers who shall also provide relief and rehabilitation services through district units and other civil-society organisations.

Relief and rehabilitation: The bill also spells out measures towards relief and rehabilitation for the victims of trafficking, and seeks the formation of a committee for this purpose. The committee is proposed to be headed by the women & child development secretary and would have members from the ministries of Home; External Affairs; Labour and Employment; Social Justice and Empowerment; Panchayati Raj; and Health and Family Welfare.

Background:

As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), human trafficking numbers rose by almost 20% in 2016 against the previous year. NCRB said there were 8,132 human trafficking cases last year against 6,877 in 2015, with the highest number of cases reported in West Bengal (44% of cases), followed by Rajasthan (17%). Of the 15,379 victims who were caught in trafficking, 10,150 were female and 5,229 males.

The purpose of trafficking included forced labour; sexual exploitation for prostitution; other forms of sexual exploitation; domestic servitude; forced marriage; child pornography; begging; drug peddling; and removal of organs.

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