Cutting across party lines, MPs come together in support of Anti-Trafficking Bill

New Delhi: It is very easy for human traffickers to lure people living in small towns and villages by their hollow promises of jobs in the city and a better life.

The problem of trafficking is particularly prevalent in India since it is a source, destination and transit country for victims of trafficking. The new proposed legislation, Trafficking of Persons Bill (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) 2018, unlike the existing legislations of Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (which cover only sex trafficking) or Bonded Labour Act (for crimes related to Bonded Labour), covers all aspects of human trafficking — including aggravated forms of trafficking like forced labour, begging, administering chemical substances and hormones for early sexual maturity, forced marriage, etc.

Rajya Sabha members, cutting across party lines, came together to support the survivors of human trafficking and urge Chairman of Rajya Sabha and Vice-President of India, Venkaiah Naidu for discussion on Anti-Trafficking Bill in the winter session.

Noted parliamentarians like D Raja, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Pradeep Tamta, N Gokulakrishnan supported the petition at a national consultation on Human Trafficking, organised by Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre (JAC) Society organised recently at Constitutional Club of India in New Delhi.

D Raja, N Gokulakrishnan, Pradeep Tamta, Akhilesh Prasad Singh and Amod K Kanth at the National Consultation on Human Trafficking (L-R)

While addressing the survivors, Amod K Kanth, Founder General Secretary, Prayas, said, “It’s time that Indian laws have necessary provisions to tackle the complex organized crime of Human Trafficking. We are thankful to the government for drafting a comprehensive and robust law which provides for necessary tools to address the crime and safeguards the interest of the victims.”

Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Prasad Singh said, “It’s sad to see how for lust of money, people have shamed humanity. This must stop. I think all parties should discuss this Bill in this winter session and pass it with necessary provisions.”

MP Rajya Sabha Pradeep Tamta, INC said, “I have heard the tales of survivors here and understand the sufferings of thousands of human trafficking survivors who are not present here. We understand the urgency of discussion of the Bill and Congress party will support the discussion on the Bill.”

N Gokulakrishnan, MP Rajya Sabha, AIADMK opined, “Bills of such importance take a back stage among other Political issues. I will support the discussion of the Bill in this winter session of Parliament.”

Survivors’ horrific experiences:

Riya (name changed), 29, who hails from Tenali, a town in Andhra Pradesh was trafficked into sex trade when she was studying in class X by a neighbouring woman, whom she used to call “aunty”. The woman lured her by offering expensive gifts and ornaments, won her trust by keeping her for few days at her house and later trafficked her into commercial sex trade.

Sharing her horrific experiences, she said that the trafficker took her to different places where she was not given proper food, medical aid, clothes and was forced to engaged in physical activities with a group consisting four to give men. She was rescued by an NGO with the help of local authorities.

Riya had received a sum of Rs 20,000 as immediate relief fund but the victim rehabilitation fund is still awaited. When asked about the whereabouts of the woman who trapped her, Riya said that since the woman is politically influenced, she was jailed for only a period of three weeks.

Rajesh (name changed) belongs to the Mushar community in Bihar where generation after generation the community has been working as agricultural bonded laborers. After their parents pass away, the next generation takes up the same work. Similarly, Rajesh was forced to work under the same owner who took away his land and forced him to work from 6AM to 7PM with other labors.

He was abused and beaten up, denied nutritious food and was only allowed a small portion of rice after a long day of hard labour. However, Rajesh was rescued by Justice Ventures International and since then he has been working as an agricultural laborer earning Rs 200-250 per day. His family is happy and his children now go to school.

As part of the consultation, hopeful survivors of human-trafficking hailing from different parts of the country, made an appeal to the MPs of Rajya Sabha to bring justice to millions of victims of human trafficking by ensuring the passage of Anti-Human Trafficking Bill in the winter session of the Parliament.

As per the NCRB 2016 report, a total of 15,379 victims of human-trafficking were reported in 2016, out of which almost 60% were minors. The report has also estimated that more than one lakh children (1,11,569) have gone missing till 2016, and 55,625 of them remained untraced even now.

(Story by Shaihzad Abid)