Will The New Anti-Trafficking Bill Help India, Asks Ruchira Gupta
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
“What is the point of having a trafficking bill and not even mention the main outcome of trafficking in India? Sixty percent of those trafficked in India are trafficked for the purpose of prostitution,” says Ruchira Gupta, Founder President of Apne Aap.
Ruchira Gupta has been working towards ending sex trafficking worldwide for the last 20 years, but when a Bill was drafted in her own country to prevent trafficking, she wasn’t very impressed.
The Quint spoke to Ruchira Gupta to know her thoughts on the Bill, and if this will help in combating the massive problem of trafficking in India.
According to her, the Bill isn’t a comprehensive plan to combat trafficking: it leaves out prevention, does not decriminalize prostituted women, does not have adequate due process to punish traffickers, has no punishment for sex buyers and has no earmarked budgets for individualized exit strategies.
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Ruchira Gupta is of the view that the Bill will do more harm than good to the victims of trafficking.
There are two existing laws on trafficking - Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, and Section 370 IPC (which defines trafficking). Victims of human trafficking don’t even know law, three laws will confuse them completely. The police will use whichever one suits them most. Frontline workers will have to navigate three sets of laws to get justice for victims. This law will complicate rather than simplify the situation.
It will help corrupt police officers to choose aspects of the law like Section 8 of the ITPA under which women can be arrested for soliciting in a public place because the “so-called” comprehensive Bill does not refer to ITPA or do away with this clause. To define trafficking it expects victims to refer to Section 370. Normally, a victim of trafficking is illiterate or semi-literate. She doesn’t know what one law is, how is she going to refer to multiple laws. The government could have simply amended ITPA. Why did it create this new ‘hotch-potch’ Bill?Ruchira Gupta, Founder President, Apne Aap
Even though the Trafficking of Persons Bill aims to look at making India a leader among South Asian nations in combating human trafficking. But will it actually help the victims of trafficking? Or will it be just another law created for appeasement which will not stand the test of time.
The Bill is yet to be tabled in the Parliament.
(This story has been updated to include a new quote from Ruchira Gupta.)