The draft of anti-trafficking Bill proposes stringent imprisonment of anywhere from seven to ten years for such persons. Strengthening punishment measures to be given against all those who subject victims of human trafficking to exploitation.
The punishment can extend to a life term in case the victim is a minor or in a similarly vulnerable position. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development have sent the draft trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 to the Cabinet for its approval.
The draft Bill proposes that whoever knowingly subjects victims of trafficking to exploitation will be punished with a rigorous imprisonment, not less than seven years which may extend to ten years.
This exploitation can take any form such as forced labour, trafficking for bearing child, begging, under the pretext of marriage or for sexual exploitation.
“In case the victim is a minor, mentally challenged or forced for cultural reasons such as under the Devdasi system, it has been proposed that the punishment be extended up to life imprisonment,” said sources.
The existing Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956, awards a much more lenient punishment to those who use the services of trafficked women. The punishment is a mere three months imprisonment which can go up to six months in case of a repeat offender.
The original draft was released in May this year only to undergo some eight revisions following rounds of consultations with anti-trafficking groups. The first version of the Bill dealt mainly with only prostitution and slavery.