The new law on trafficking is a welcome step, but the government needs to better its infrastructure
Despite the many laws India has to combat human trafficking—from the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act to sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act—there is little to show. Instances of trafficking increased from 2,848 in 2009 to 5,466 in 2014, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. On the other hand, conviction in case of trafficking declined by over 40% in the same period, with the most number of convictions being under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention)Act. The gap thus highlights how the existing laws find little application in earning convictions for those accused of trafficking. The government, however, is looking to change that. According to The Economic Times, the government will release the draft of a new anti-trafficking Bill that would bring all current laws on trafficking under one ambit. The Bill not only doubles the punishment for human trafficking, but also creates a special court and investigation agency to tackle such cases and provides for joint working groups with neighbouring countries to undertake preventive measures. Moreover, the law is also expected to bring forced labour under its framework, which a US state department report estimates is cause for 65 million people being trafficked in India.
While the bill is a step in the right direction, the government would need to do much more in terms of infrastructure and resources in order to address the problem. Data from government shows that it has been able to setup only 270 anti-trafficking units till January 2016, as against a target of 335 that it had to complete three years ago.