Civil society groups on Thursday condemned passage of the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018 by the Lok Sabha and urged Rajya Sabha for a close examination of the legislation.
"Various civil society representatives, labour unions, sex workers, activists, legal experts and human rights groups have condemned the Bill saying it was passed without scrutiny and examination which it desperately needs ," said a joint statement.
"We urge members of the Rajya Sabha to ensure that the Bill is examined and evaluated and not hastily passed into law," said the group of NGOs.
The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Bill to prevent human trafficking, especially of women and children, and provide rehabilitation to the victims and prosecute offenders. The Bill was introduced by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi.
"We fear that the proposed law would give even more power to the police and other law implementing agencies to harass the already vulnerable community of sex workers," All India Network of Sex Workers President Kusum said.
Kusum is, however, hopeful that the Rajya Sabha members would closely examine the bill that marks a new low in the country's legislative response to the weak and vulnerable sections of society.
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The civil society groups said the Bill is replete with problems and adopts a flawed approach towards the problem of trafficking. They said the Bill should have been referred to a standing committee in Parliament like all other far-reaching bills are.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery have expressed grave concerns about the Bill.
They said the Bill's focus on addressing trafficking from a criminal law perspective is not sufficiently complemented by a human-rights based and victim-centred approach, and this risks further harming the already vulnerable individuals.