Highlights of the Bill
- The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2006 amends the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 to combat trafficking and sexual exploitation for commercial purposes.
- The Bill deletes provisions that penalised prostitutes for soliciting clients. It penalises any person visiting a brothel for the purpose of sexual exploitation of trafficked victims.
- All offences listed in the Bill would be tried in camera, i.e., the public would be excluded from attending the trial.
- The term “trafficking in persons” has been defined with a provision for punishing any person who is guilty of the offence of trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution.
- The Bill constitutes authorities at the centre and state level to combat trafficking.
Key Issues and Analysis
- While prostitution is not an offence, practicing it in a brothel or within 200 m of any public place is illegal. There seems to be a lack of clarity on whether prostitution ought to be a legitimate way of earning a living if entered into by choice.
- Penalising clients who visit prostitutes could drive this sector underground, preventing legal channels of support to victims of trafficking.
- This Bill punishes trafficking for the purpose of prostitution. Trafficking for other purposes (such as bonded labour and domestic work) are not covered by the Bill.
- The rank of special police officer, who would enforce the Act, is lowered from Inspector to Sub-Inspector. Such powers delegated to junior officers could lead to greater harassment.
The Bill constitutes authorities at the centre and state level to combat trafficking. However, it does not elaborate on the role, function and composition of these authorities.