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India unveils anti-human trafficking law

India’s Minister for Woman and Child Development Maneka Gandhi unveiled her draft for a law aimed to combat human trafficking in the country. This new draft presents the survivors as victims rather than accomplices, and would give protection and assistance to people affected by the traffic.

Accurate numbers of the traffic are not available but various activists estimate the number to be in the thousands, mostly poor woman and infants coming from India and its neighbours Bangladesh and Nepal, which are lured by the promise of a good job. Many are sold into forced marriages or are required to work as servants in small shops and hotels. Those less fortunate end in brothels where they are subjected to forced intimate relations.

According to the Minister, this law is to unify existing anti-trafficking texts and make a clear distinction between the trafficked and the trafficker to avoid victims such as the ones found in brothels to end up in jail. This draft will allow the creation of special courts in order to expedite cases of human trafficking, enhance and strengthen prosecutions by setting up special investigative agencies. Providing narcotics and other drugs for the purpose of trafficking will also become an offence.

In 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau registered 5466 cases of human traffic, a 90 percent rise from the previous five years, though activists maintain that this is a “gross underestimate”

The Minister said that she would accept suggestions to improve the bill until the 30th of June this year. The text is then sent to all ministries in order to get feedback, and the final bill could be brought for a vote in the parliament by the end of 2016.

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