Vijayawada: Various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and newly-formed Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT) are vigorously lobbying for the re-introduction and passing of Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill in Parliament. The bill was introduced in the previous term of the Lok Sabha (2014-2019) and was passed there but it did get through Rajya Sabha as some members sought modifications. With the end of then Lok Sabha ending, the bill too lapsed. As six months time has passed since the approval of pervious Lok Sabha, the bill needs to be re-introduced in it again for which NGOs began fight recently and met 17 MPs in Delhi and sought their support.

Human trafficking is one of the serious offences in the country and thousands of women and girls are becoming victims of this inhuman crime. The new bill was aimed at strengthening the existing Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) by giving more powers to the law enforcement agencies. Some NGOs and newly-formed ILFAT began lobbying for the passage of new bill.

N Rammohan, secretary, HELP, an NGO fighting against human trafficking, said the representatives of NGOs and ILFAT met 17 MPs in New Delhi recently and sought their co-operation for reintroduction of the bill in Parliament. Rammohan said the new bill is aimed at giving more focus on the rehabilitation of the victims of human trafficking at community rehabilitation centres rather than keeping them in rescue homes.

The bill gives more emphasis on protection and rehabilitation of victims, victim and witness protection and monetary relief to the victims. Sk Raheema (name changed), a survivor of human trafficking, said the investigating agencies should be given more powers and bigger network should be made in the country to check trafficking of persons. “Most of the victims are women and girls. The culprits must be punished for indulging in heinous offences. Over 2,500 survivors of human trafficking came together to launch India’s first ever forum of, for and by survivors, Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT),” she said. Raheema said the survivors have fought different forms of trafficking, forced and bonded labour, sex trafficking, begging, being child brides, domestic servitude, working in brick kilns and bangle factories, at the grassroots and joined forces to formulate a coordinated strategy for bringing significant changes at the national level through policy change, education and empowerment. The survivors belong to various organisations based in AP, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, UP, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Jharkhand. Most victims hail from the poor families and have been victimised by the traffickers, she added.

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