[Editorial Analysis] Sensitive and precise: On anti-trafficking bill

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Trafficking
Mains level: Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care, and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021

Context:

• Trafficking is a nasty crime for which societies and governments must have zero tolerance, but dealing with it requires precision rather than a sledgehammer.

• The proposed Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care, and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021, in its current form, appears to be lacking in nuance, despite its good intentions to combat exploitative trafficking.

Provisions of the Bill:

• The bill attempts to prevent and combat human trafficking, particularly among women and children, by providing victims with care, protection, and rehabilitation while respecting their rights and fostering a supportive legal, economic, and social environment.

• This is the Bill’s second incarnation; the first was passed in the Lok Sabha in 2018, but it never made it to the Upper House because it was never introduced.

• Notably, the Bill has broadened the scope of the legislation to include offences committed both within and beyond India.

• When passed, it calls for the formation of anti-trafficking committees at the state and national levels to carry out the laws.

• Civil society activists and legal experts have criticised the bill’s various provisions, claiming that an overzealous approach would obscure the nuances and understanding of the contributing factors, such as vicious poverty, debt, lack of opportunity, and development schemes that fall short of expectations.

Criticism:

• Those who believe that passing over the investigation of trafficking offences to the NIA will burden the already overburdened unit even more, as well as those who argue that removing local enforcement agencies from the picture would be an attack on federalism, have voiced their opposition.

• Another major critique of the bill is its broad definitions of victims, which appear to be a refusal to recognise consensual sexual conduct for commercial purposes.

• This would only serve to criminalise sex labour and the victimisation of those who are exploited.

• If pornography is included in the notion of sexual exploitation, then no adult may consume non-exploitative, consenting content.

• Reporting of crimes has been made mandatory, with penalties for failure to notify, but those familiar with the complicated procedures point out that victims frequently do not want their complaints to be documented.

• The death sentence for several types of serious trafficking offences should also be mentioned.

Conclusion:

• To ensure that the barrier does not consume the crop, the government should scan and incorporate the comments to its Bill.

• While sexual exploitation and trafficking are horrifying crimes that elicit public outrage, it would be equally horrifying for the government to fail to take a holistic strategy that is aware of the causal elements and is sensitive and precise.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the giloy, consider the following statements:

1. It is indigenous to tropical regions of the Indian subcontinent.

2. It has been in use for centuries in traditional medicine to treat various disorders.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Critically analyse the proposed Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care, and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021.

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