Trafficking In Persons


    In News

    • Recently, World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was observed on July 30 in a bid to raise awareness about the ordeal of human trafficking victims and the ways to safeguard their rights.
      • Some activists also demanded to bring Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021 as a law.

    World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

    • History:
      • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been at the helm of observing this day as an annual event. 
      • This arm of the organisation has been collecting data and analysing ways to protect the rights of the victims since 2003.
      • In 2010, the General Assembly initiated what is called the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, with the help of which, governments across the world were asked to take stringent and coordinated measures to curb, if not eradicate, this problem. 
      • In 2013, the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was observed for the first time.
    • Theme:
      • The theme for 2022 is Use and Abuse of Technology, which primarily focuses on technology being a tool to proliferate human trafficking. With the paradigm majorly shifting to digital, the vulnerability of victims has increased. 

    Background on Trafficking Bill 

    • The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 was passed by Lok Sabha but could not be taken up in Rajya Sabha and subsequently lapsed. 
    • Draft of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill 2021 was published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in June 2021.    

    Major Provisions of Bill 

    • Coverage:
      • The law will apply to all citizens of India, within and outside the country, persons on any ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be or carrying Indian citizens wherever they may be, and a foreign national or a stateless person who has a residence in India.
    • Cross-border implications:
      • It also says the law “shall apply to every offence of trafficking in persons with cross-border implications”.
    • Widens the definition:
      • The draft bill also widens the definition of the “victim” by including transgenders, besides women and children.
    • National Anti-Trafficking Committee:
      • Once the bill becomes an Act, the central government will notify and set up a National Anti-Trafficking Committee, while state governments will set up these committees at state and district levels to ensure effective implementation.
    • Punishment: 
      • Penalty will hold a minimum of seven years which can go up to an imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh.
      • In most cases of child trafficking, especially in the case of the trafficking of more than one child, the penalty is now life imprisonment.
      • When a person is convicted of an offence under this section against a child of less than twelve years of age, or against a woman for the purpose of repeated rape, the person shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for twenty years, but which may extend to life, or in case of second or subsequent conviction with death, and with fine which may extend up to thirty lakh rupees.

    Objectives and Need 

    • It aims to prevent and counter trafficking in persons, especially women and children, to provide for care, protection, and rehabilitation to the victims, while respecting their rights, and creating a supportive legal, economic and social environment for them and also to ensure prosecution of offenders, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
    • It would help survivors of different kinds of trafficking in terms of investigation of their cases, the functioning of AHTUs (Anti-Human Trafficking Units), inter-State investigations and their rehabilitation.


    • The bill lends to confusion: There are laws already in place on ‘forced labour’ and ‘sexual exploitation. There is now a lot of overlapping.
    • The law does not clarify which law is to apply: There should have been one comprehensive code, repealing all previous laws.
    • It does not extend the relief beyond shelter homes
    • Rehabilitation is a fundamental right, but there is no clarity in the Bill on any funds that will be allotted, which is crucial. 

    What is Human Trafficking?

    • It is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.
    • Men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world. 
    • The traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims.
    • Human trafficking is a global crime that trades in people and exploits them for profit. 

    Legal Instrument to Combat human trafficking 

    • The main international legal instrument is the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000. 
    • The Trafficking Protocol, which supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, is the only international legal instrument addressing human trafficking as a crime. 

    Related Constitutional and Legislative Provisions in India 

    • Article 23(1): It prohibits the trafficking of persons.
    • Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA): It aims to stop immoral trafficking and prostitution in India and is divided into 25 sections and one schedule.
    • Sections 366(A) of Indian Penal Code: It prohibits kidnapping and Section 372 of IPC prohibits selling minors into prostitution.
    • Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act 1986 and Juvenile Justice Act: All of these prohibit bonded and forced labour.
    • Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012: It is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
    • Other Specific Legislations
      • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
      • Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
      • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
      • Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994
      • Specific Sections in the IPC, like Sections 372 and 373 dealing with selling and buying of girls for the purpose of prostitution.
    • Steps by State Governments: States have also enacted specific legislations to deal with the issue, like the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012.

    Measures Taken by Government

    • Anti Trafficking Cell (ATC): It was set up in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2006 to act as a focal point for communicating various decisions and follow up on action taken by the State Governments to combat the crime of Human Trafficking. 
    • Women help desks were established in 10,000 police stations across the country.
    • MHA under a Comprehensive Scheme strengthening law enforcement response in India against Trafficking in Persons through Training and Capacity Building has released fund for establishment of Anti Human Trafficking Units for 270 districts of the country.
      • Strengthening the capacity building: To enhance the capacity building of law enforcement agencies and generate awareness among them.
    • Judicial Colloquium: In order to train and sensitize the trial court judicial officers, Judicial Colloquium on human trafficking is held at the High court level.
      • The aim is to sensitise the judicial officers about the various issues concerning human trafficking and to ensure speedy court process.
      • So far, eleven Judicial Colloquiums have been held at Chandigarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Odisha.

    Conclusion and Way Forward  

    • India to strengthen its battle against human trafficking, certain critical shifts are a must in its anti-trafficking laws and policies –
      • Investigation of human trafficking must be mandated to specialized agencies with the requisite training, tools, resources, and funding to be able to conduct an interstate and cross-border investigation and collect evidence using necessary technological support.
      • Rescue protocols must be well defined to ensure victim-friendly exit processes.
      • Provisions for implementing intelligence gathering mechanisms for prevention and rescues must be clearly articulated in the law.
      • Rehabilitation must go beyond the institutionalised, one-size-fit-all service providing model, and ensure community-based rehabilitation and reintegration for all survivors in order to strengthen their resilience and agency – not only to prevent further exploitation and trafficking but also to enable their meaningful participation in the justice system and processes.
      • Adequate funds and robust monitoring systems must be mandated by the law in order to empower the implementing bodies in breaking the organised crime and business of trafficking.
    • The passing of the Bill should be followed by proper research and a study to understand the domestic and global situation, with reference to cause and effect, dimensions beyond the conventional definition, the vulnerability and attempts to alleviate it, the methods used by a trafficker to sustain captivity and role of stakeholders in prevention, protection, and prosecution, and other issues.
    • The rehabilitation of survivors should be community-based so that they can avail facilities of healthcare, education, food security and impart necessary skills, setting up self-help groups in their own surroundings instead of shelter homes.  

    Source: TH