New Delhi: Union Minister Maneka Gandhi on Thursday moved the Anti-Trafficking Bill in the Lok Sabha which seeks to protect and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking and prosecute the offenders. The Minister for Women and Child Development introduced the bill for discussion in the Lower House calling it a “path-breaking step”.
The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill provides for the establishment of a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau to investigate cases. “Human trafficking is a border-less crime. Special crimes need special attention. How can we stay silent when women and children are sold like goods,” Gandhi asked.
“Let us make this bill a reality today to protect and provide for the millions of victims who have sufferered silenctly for years. “We are accountable to all affected, specially the most vulnerable one –women and children. Today we have a chance to deliver to them a law which gurantees their rights and ensures that the perpetrators of crime are brought to book,” she said urging the members to pass the bill.
She also said: “The exisiting laws define trafficking as an offence but there are a huge number of loopholes in those. The bill also ensures that the victim is given witness care during the investigation. Under the Bill, every state government will appoint a State Nodal Officer, who will be responsible for following up action, as per the instructions of the State Anti-Trafficking Committee.
It also provides for the setting up of Anti-Trafficking Units (ATUs) at the district level and establishment of Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committees (ATCs) at the national, state, and district levels. Further, protection homes will be set up by the central or state governments. Trinamool member Saugata Bose pointed out a typographical error in the list of business for the day, which mentioned that the bill seeks to ‘persecute offenders’ instead of ‘prosecute’.