Concerned at feminisation of migration, which has often resulted in women being trafficked and becoming vulnerable to harm, including abuse at work, poor living conditions and health risks, the National Commission for Women has recommended special laws to protect them.
The panel has also demanded a national policy for domestic workers, and asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development to formulate a draft integrated plan of action to combat trafficking in women and children.
Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports of women being trafficked for forced labour, the NCW has recommended that the Ministry of Home Affairs draft a special law to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The special law should include the definition of trafficking as per Article 3 of United Nations Convention 2000 and its Protocol to include the term “abuse of position of vulnerability” (which is missing in Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code).
Trafficking in persons should mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, fraud, deception and abuse of power of position or even receiving or giving payments to achieve the consent of the person, resulting in exploitation. Some other forms of exploitation to be included in the definition are sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or similar practices, servitude or the removal of organs. “This should be extended to offences committed outside India and women should be given provision for security and control of documents in order to ensure that travel or identity documents issued, especially to women, cannot be easily misused, readily falsified or unlawfully altered, replicated or issued,” the NCW says in a report while suggesting that cases of missing women should be linked with investigations into trafficking.
Asking the Labour Ministry to draft legislation for the regulation of domestic work with a gender component and formulate a national policy for domestic workers, it says it should include a provision to inform domestic workers of their terms of employment in an appropriate, verifiable and easily understandable manner and, preferably, where possible, through written contracts in vernacular language.
Pointing out that the fundamental right to freedom of movement was a woman’s right which must be distinguished from trafficking, which is coercive and violent, the NCW says a frequently used method of deception by traffickers is luring vulnerable girls on the promise of ‘lucrative jobs’.”
``Prevention of trafficking in women requires not only examining the factors that contribute to the problem but also providing awareness among potential victims in order to reduce the traffickers abusing their position of vulnerability,’’ the report says, suggesting that the need was to identify women who were at the risk of being trafficked and provide them with the necessary tools to find work without putting them at risk.
According to the Commission, women migrate for multiple reasons, including displacement and dispossession, search for sustainable livelihoods, naxal activity, more fulfilling opportunities or an aspiration for a better life.