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'Alarming rise in child trafficking': Kailash Satyarthi demands urgent passage of Bill

By Our Representative

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has demanded urgent passage of the anti-trafficking Bill in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament without further delay. This, he said, is necessary in the light of alarming rise in cases of trafficking and forced labour in the country due to further impoverishment of poor families during the pandemic.
The passage of the Bill through both the houses of the parliament will be fulfilment of the demand of 12 Lakh Indians who marched across 22 states and 12,000 km demanding a strong law against trafficking which he led in 2017, a Satyarthi-founded NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) statement said.
To voice their support for the demand, Satyarthi along with several activists, members of the civil society organisations and survivor leaders will be reaching out to Parliamentarians of their respective States soon, the statement added.
Especially referring to Gujarat, considered by the Modi government as a model for the whole country to follow, the statement said, the situation in the State "very grim as far as trafficking is concerned".
The children who go missing are subjected to child trafficking and forced labour. As per National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), in 2019, 1,439 children went missing in the State, bu only 22 cases of child trafficking and 64 cases of child labour were filed, BBA said.
It continued, the current pandemic has led to an aggravation of the vulnerabilities of the marginalised children in India. They are now much more prone to various kinds of exploitation especially trafficking and child labour.
BBA claimed, it has rescued more than 9,000 trafficked children and 260 traffickers from trains, buses and factories along with law-enforcement agencies since the beginning of the pandemic from across the entire country. Children have thus become the biggest victim of the pandemic with the trafficking of children becoming much more rampant.
As per the Crime in India 2019 report published by the NCRB, the total number of child victims of trafficking is going up year on year. It increased from 2,837 in 2018 to 2,914 in 2019, registering a growth of 2.8%. Top six states reporting child trafficking were Rajasthan, Delhi, Bihar, Odisha and Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, BBA said.
Speaking about importance of the Bill, Satyarthi noted, “A strong anti-trafficking law is the moral and constitutional responsibility of our elected leaders, and a necessary step toward nation-building and economic progress."
According to him, "As long as children are bought and sold at lesser cost than cattle, no country can call itself civilised. Covid-19 has caused a rise in trafficking, especially of women and children. We cannot take this lightly."
"A law for prevention, timely investigation, punishment for traffickers, and the protection and rehabilitation of survivors is a matter of urgency. I call on all parliamentarians to pass a strong and comprehensive anti-trafficking law in the upcoming session of Parliament. Our children, their freedom and dignity cannot wait,” he added.
Strongly supporting the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021, BBA said, I covers various aspects of trafficking by including offences pertaining to trafficking, including aggravated forms of trafficking. It seeks to create a dedicated institutional mechanism at district, state and national level to prevent and counter trafficking, and also for the protection and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking.
Situation in Gujarat is very grim. Children who go missing are subjected to child trafficking and forced labour
The existing Bill has expanded definition of trafficking and victim and covers new forms of aggravated trafficking for the purpose of forced or bonded labour, debt bondage, slavery, servitude, sexual exploitation, bio-medical research or trials, carrying out unlawful activities in places such as placement agencies, massage parlours, spas, travel agencies, circus, etc., BBA said.
The Bill also provides stringent punishment for the offences of trafficking of women, or children, or transgender under institutional care. It ensures immediate monetary relief and compensation, the statement added.
According to BBA, under the Bill, the designated court is entrusted the duty to record the statement of the victim through video conferencing, especially in case of trans-border and inter-State crimes where the victim has been repatriated to any other State or country and is unable to appear before the court for the reasons of safety or confidentiality.
In 2018, then Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi introduced the Bill first. It was passed in the the Lok Sabha, but, regretted BBA, it was never tabled in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the last Parliament.

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