The Government of India penalises trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation through the , with a prescribed penalty of seven years' to life imprisonment. India also prohibits bonded and forced labour through the , the , and the J
Indian authorities also use and of the Indian Penal Code, prohibiting kidnapping and selling minors into prostitution respectively, to arrest traffickers. Penalties under these provisions are a maximum of ten years' imprisonment and a fine.
Bonded labour and the movement of sex trafficking victims may occasionally be facilitated by corrupt officials. They protect brothels that exploit victims and protect traffickers and brothel keepers from arrest and other threats of enforcement.
Usually, there are no efforts made to tackle the problem of government officials' complicity in trafficking workers for overseas employment. The bulk of bonded labour heads for the Middle East to emerging economies and there are several media reports which report on the illegal and inhumane trafficking of Indian workers.
India's CBI incorporated anti-trafficking training, by Dr. Gilly McKenzie of the Interpol Trafficking and Organised Crime Division, into its standard curriculum. In November, the State of Maharashtra developed an action plan to combat trafficking; it did not, however, allocate appropriate funding to accomplish the objectives of this plan.
The two principal Indian laws that address trafficking and prostitution in particular are:
The Suppression of and The , an amendment to SITA.
India is said to have adopted a tolerant approach to prostitution whereby an individual is free to carry on prostitution provided it is not an organized and a commercialized vice. However, it commits itself to opposing trafficking as enshrined in Article 23 of the Constitution which prohibits trafficking in human beings. India is also a signatory to international conventions such as the , , and the latest
In order to effectively curb the menace of human trafficking to the Middle East, India and the UAE will soon sign a MoU for cooperation in preventing and combating the crime. It will strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries and increase bilateral cooperation on issues of prevention, rescue, recovery, and repatriation related to human trafficking, especially of women and children, expeditiously. Anti-trafficking cells and task forces will work on both sides to prevent human trafficking.
India's Amendment Act brought India into closer alignment with the international standards established by the UN Trafficking Protocol. However, there continue to be gaps between India's laws, policies, and practices, on the one hand, and, on the other, the UN Trafficking Protocol's requirements and recommendations for State Parties. First, India's laws and policies have long prioritized preventing and punishing sex trafficking rather than labour trafficking in spite of the fact that labour trafficking is far more prevalent in India.
Second, there remains a notable absence of measures to guarantee the safety, rehabilitation, and compensation for trafficking victims. Current policies seem to conflate sex work with trafficking, and give inadequate attention to other forms of trafficking such as labour trafficking. While the recent amendment of the Indian Penal Code to include a comprehensive definition of trafficking is a major development in Indian law, a comprehensive effort to address the problem of trafficking through appropriate prevention, rescue and rehabilitation programs is still required. Third, cross-border trafficking victims face a double-edged sword in India- their mere presence in the country constitutes a violation, as they are within India illegally. India must decriminalize the status of such victims and work to safely repatriate cross-national human trafficking victims to their home countries.
Furthermore, India should reform its laws and policies to reflect the country's obligations under the UN Trafficking Protocol in light of the realities of human trafficking in the country. Following below are concluding observations and recommendations made by experts and interviewees for reforming India's anti-trafficking laws, policies and enforcement efforts. These suggestions are intended as topics deserving of consideration and are meant to be assistive in understanding the current legal framework concerning human trafficking in India.
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