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Insights into Editorial: ‘Only 82 trafficking survivors awarded relief in last 8 years’

Insights into Editorial: ‘Only 82 trafficking survivors awarded relief in last 8 years’

Left_in_the_lurch

Context:

Highlighting the poor status of compensation awarded to survivors of human trafficking in the country, response obtained through RTI queries from 25 States and seven Union Territories reveal that between March 2011 and April 2019 only 82 such victims were awarded compensation.

3 In 5 People Trafficked Were Children. However, between 2011 and 2018, the total number of cases of human trafficking recorded in the country, according to NCRB reports, was 35,983.

This means, only 0.2% of all survivors of human trafficking received the compensation announced by the government in the last eight years.

The Section 357-A of Code of Criminal Procedure has provisions to compensate victims who suffered because of a crime.

In 2012, following the national outrage over the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, the government announced Rs.1,000 crore fund to be used to combat sexual violence against persons – children or adults.

 

What are the constitutional & legislative provisions related to Trafficking in India?

  • Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23 (1).
  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Criminal Law (amendment) Act 2013 has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking including trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude, or the forced removal of organs.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, which has come into effect from 14th November, 2012 is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • It provides precise definitions for different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment.
  • There are other specific legislations enacted relating to trafficking in women and children 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, apart from specific Sections in the IPC, e.g. Sections 372 and 373 dealing with selling and buying of girls for the purpose of prostitution.
  • State Governments have also enacted specific legislations to deal with the issue. (e.g. The Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012).

 

Gap in data and under-reporting:

  • The World Vision report said that existing prevalence data from secondary sources for human trafficking for CSE do not exist as victims are a hidden population and there is no valid survey method to track it.
  • Estimates of women and girls in CSE vary from 70,000 to 3 million in India.
  • NCRB data reveal only reported cases that not all cases are reported, simply because parents are very hesitant to report or parents themselves are involved.”
  • Insufficient data hinder work for organisations such as World Vision India.
  • Government agencies’ work also suffers–lack of data makes it difficult to detect and target high-prevalence areas, making it difficult to focus prevention and law enforcement efforts effectively.
  • Lack of data makes it very difficult to track the gravity of the situation and the scanty numbers indicate that there is no immediate problem.
  • There is a global data gap in reporting trafficking. It is not easy for trafficking victims to report because many of them are from some of the most vulnerable and marginalised sections of society but a lot of data is lost due to lack of an integrated data collection system.
  • Integrated reporting and use of digital databases by police would result in more accurate national collation of data.
  • Once first information reports and charge-sheets are entered into a digital system, there would be more accurate reports of trafficking crimes.

 

Nirbhaya fund:

The part of the Nirbhaya fund is being used in the Victim Compensation Scheme – a national scheme to compensate survivors of rape, acid burns and trafficking among other forms of violence for the last few years.

The amount of compensation to victims of trafficking varies from State to State, adding that in 2018, the Supreme Court directed NALSA (National Legal Services Authority ) to frame a standardised victim compensation scheme.

The study also reflects the number of trafficking survivors who applied for the victim compensation scheme to their respective legal services authority.

 

International Conventions on Trafficking:

UN Convention: India has ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNCTOC) which has as one of its Protocols Prevention, Suppression and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons, particularly Women and Children.

SAARC Convention: India has ratified the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution.

A Regional Task Force was constituted to implement the SAARC Convention.

A study tour for SAARC Member countries was conducted to learn from the experiences of the Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) established in various districts of the country. Representatives of Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan participated in the study tour.

Bilateral mechanism: For dealing with cross border trafficking and to address the various issues relating to prevention of Trafficking, victim identification and repatriation and make the process speedy and victim-friendly between India and Bangladesh, a Task Force of India and Bangladesh was constituted.

 

Lack of awareness in victims regarding compensation:

The study also suggests that there remains a lack of information provided to survivors on victim compensation, lack of initiative on the part of legal services authority, low investment on part of legal aid that results in very few survivors having access to compensation.

In their study the researchers tracked the details of at least three case studies where the trafficking survivors had received compensation.

Survivors were able to apply only when they were informed and a private lawyer was involved in assisting them in filing application for victim compensation, highlighting that from their rescue till rehabilitation, the survivors are in touch with multiple agencies but none of them take any steps to help them get compensation.

 

Conclusion: Measures to avoid Trafficking:

Strengthening the capacity building: To enhance the capacity building of law enforcement agencies and generate awareness among them, various Training of Trainers (TOT) workshops on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for Police officers and for Prosecutors at Regional level, State level and District level were held throughout the country.

Judicial Colloquium: In order to train and sensitize the trial court judicial officers, Judicial Colloquium on human trafficking are held at the High court level.

The aim is to sensitize 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.

Officials tend to dismiss or undermine the problem. Having accurate data on such a serious issue is critical to evolve effective strategies.

Police should be proactive in booking the cases under trafficking provisions. Often cases are booked as kidnapping or missing person cases even though there is clear evidence of trafficking.

Many NGOs are now in the process of compiling data about child trafficking. Though this is not official data, it is useful as a pointer.