Fearing further delay in the passage of the Bill related to human trafficking in Rajya Sabha, over 1,000 survivors from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Odisha, Punjab, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, have reached out to the Prime Minister.
The survivors wrote an Open Letter to PM Narendra Modi requesting for an early passage of the ‘Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018’, in the Rajya Sabha.
Here is the letter:
Dear Modi ji,
We write to you as your sister, your brother, your niece, your nephew and your friend. At number of occasions you have said that you are ‘Pradhan Sevak’ to all your fellow Indians and ‘Bhagidar’ in joy and sorrow of everyone. You have witnessed poverty, unemployment, helplessness and hence you have dedicated your life in ensuring that no other Indian suffers from the same evil.
Sir, our story is also similar. At some desperate moment of our life, we were lured with a hope of better life and forced to become a laborer without rights, a bride who was raped, a girl who was sold like groceries, a beggar, a farm for organ harvesting and what not. The traffickers tortured us, beat us, gave us drugs, transported us like cattle and did everything possible to break our spirit, just for money. But we survived, and these tragedies made us stronger. Having witnessed all these heinous crimes first hand, we want to ensure that no other fellow Indian suffers the same fate.
We are survivors of sex trafficking, trafficked for the specific purpose of sexual exploitation from West Bengal to Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bangalore, Goa and other states. We are young adolescent girls and boys in Tamil Nadu who had been trafficked into spinning mills from Bihar and Jharkhand and rescued. We are girls from Jharkhand who had been trafficked to Delhi for domestic work and rescued. We are men who were trafficked to Sri Lanka for their kidneys. We were happy when your government initiated making of a new law. We sent our suggestions, we participated in workshops, we put in our ideas and for the first time we felt heard when we saw that the draft bill seemed to have found solutions to many of our existing problems.
Today, we write to you not in despair, but in Hope!
We would like to thank you and your government for coming out with ‘Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018’, an honest attempt to break the criminal nexus of organized human trafficking.
We also thank the government for passing the Bill in the Lok Sabha and we now urge you to pass the Bill in Rajya Sabha as early as possible. We have waited for a long time and we will keep fighting for it but India shouldn’t wait anymore.
Trafficking targets humans from all genders, caste, communities and religion. India stands united to end this inhumane practice. We wish and hope that by time we celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on 2nd October, 2018, our parliamentarians can feel proud about passing a comprehensive and robust law to curb human trafficking and realize the vision of the father of the nation of safe and secure India for every Indian.
There are millions who look up to the Parliament every day with the hopes of this law becoming a reality. We are hopeful that the bill will be introduced and passed in the Rajya Sabha at the earliest. We look forward to you as our guardian, to ensure that no other Indian should have to face the sufferings of human trafficking in the future.
With gratitude, love and respect!
Co – Signed by more than 1000 survivors from following survivor collectives.
The Union Cabinet approved the draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, before the government tabled it in Parliament on July 18. However, soon thereafter, the Bill was criticised for taking a crime-centric view of trafficking.
The Bill lays down a stringent punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated forms of trafficking, which include buying or selling of persons for the purpose of bonded labour, bearing a child, as well as those where chemical substances or hormones are administered, and a survivor acquires life-threatening illnesses such as AIDS.
The Bill proposes establishing a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) for coordinating, monitoring and surveillance of trafficking cases. It also provides for a Relief and Rehabilitation Committee and Rehabilitation Fund with an initial allocation of ₹ 10 crore. It prescribes forfeiture of property used or likely to be used for the commission of an offence.
“Trafficking is a borderless crime but jurisdiction issues come in the way of investigation. This Bill provides for the NATB to effectively address this aspect,” Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said while introducing the Bill in the Lok Sabha.