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Survivor-leaders to press for passage of Trafficking of Persons Bill – Mrit News

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Najma from West Bengal and Padmini from Andhra Pradesh, both survivors of human trafficking had travelled to New Delhi in July 2018. The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 was passed in Lok Sabha that year but could not be taken up in Rajya Sabha and subsequently lapsed. Almost four years later in June 2022, both Najma and Padmini again met in Kolkata along with 24 other survivor leaders. All of them will travel to the national capital and press for the passage of the new version of the Trafficking Bill that is likely to be tabled in the upcoming session of the Parliament.

Draft of The Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill 2021 was published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in June 2021.  There were 26 survivor-leaders from eight States who met in Kolkata earlier this week, under the banner of ILFAT (Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking) and discussed about the passage of the new Bill.  “When we meet MPs in Delhi this time we are going to tell them that four years is a long time and for survivors who are struggling with issues like investigation of their cases and rehabilitation all this can be very painful. We will urge the lawmakers to see that the Bill turns into a law,” Najma said.

The survivor leader from a collective Utthan in West Bengal said that in 2018 the number of collectives with ILFAT was three which has grown to 13 in 2022. The number of survivors who are part of ILFAT have increased from 2,500 to 4,000 in the past four years, she added.

 The pandemic has brought to the fore newer issues on migration and forced slavery. Khem Lal, a survivor of labour trafficking from Janjgir-Champa in Chhattisgarh said that it was the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic that anyone tried to count the number of migrant workers going to other States for work. “In our district alone the number of migrants who go to other States came close to a lakh. We are now trying to educate migrant workers about their rights. That they should not get into any kind of forced slavery,” the survivor leader from Chhattisgarh said.

During the workshop in Kolkata, survivor leaders from Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Bihar were also present and they shared their experiences of survival during the pandemic. During the workshop, Najma, Khem Lal and other survivor leaders also discussed on the strategy to register ILFAT as a legal entity. “These registrations help us in engaging with individuals, MPs, governments and organisations such as the Niti Aayog,” survivor leaders said.

 Experts point out that new TIP Bill would help survivors of different kinds of trafficking in terms of investigation of their cases, the functioning of AHTUs ( Anti-Human Trafficking Units), inter-State investigations and their rehabilitation. ILFAT is of the opinion that the rehabilitation of survivors should be community-based so that they can avail facilities of healthcare, education, food security and imparting necessary skills, setting up self-help groups in their own surrounding instead of shelter homes. ILFAT representatives have been meeting MPs  across political parties on the passage of the TIP Bill for the past few years.

(Names of survivors has been changed)

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