The Indian Parliament recently enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (CLA). Although primarily concerned with targeting rape and sexual assault, the Bill incorporates a range of other offences dealing with violence against women many of which the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) did not envisage. Two such offences relate to trafficking, an area of considerable policy and legal reform internationally.
Specifically, the new Section 370 defines the offence of trafficking thus replacing the prior Section 370, which dealt with the buying or disposing of any person as a slave. The new Section 370 criminalises anyone who recruits, transports, harbours, transfers or receives a person using certain means (including threats, force, coercion, fraud, deception, abduction, abuse of power, or inducement) for purposes of exploitation. Exploitation in turn is not defined but is said to include any act of physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the forced removal of organs. Punishment ranges from 7 to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment with fine. This is further enhanced and graded depending on whether the victim is an adult or minor, if more than one person or minor is trafficked, if the trafficker is a repeat offender and whether the trafficker is a police officer or public servant. Recognising that targeting the demand for trafficked labour is often crucial in the fight against trafficking, Section 370A criminalises anyone who engages a trafficked minor or adult for sexual exploitation.