Nearly a dozen survivors of human trafficking wrote to 10 women MPs on Wednesday urging them to support and pass the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.
The survivors appealed to the woman leaders to support the Bill “to ensure safety of women and children… so they do not suffer from violence any more”.
The letter was sent to Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani, as well as MPs from Opposition parties, including Jaya Bachchan, Sushmita Dev and Supriya Sule.
The anti-trafficking legislation is likely to come up in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which begins on July 18.
“All of us were trafficked from our villages in North and South 24 Parganas of West Bengal to other States, and have either run away from those places or were rescued by the police or NGOs,” read the letter.
The survivors said that the Bill’s provision for speedy trials, stricter punishment for traffickers and compensation for victims, would give them hope.
The letter said that the survivors, mostly between 16 and 25 years of age, had come together under the banner of Utthan.
“Of the hundreds of survivors of human trafficking from the State, very few have got compensation even after intervention of the courts and NGOs… the new Bill provides rehabilitation as a right of the survivor. The Bill also clearly defines what constitutes rehabilitation,” said Kaushik Gupta, an advocate at the Calcutta High Court who has taken up cases of Utthan members.
One of the survivors who signed the letter said she faced problems at work and home as she had to often leave to pursue her case. “Unless the trafficker is punished we cannot live peacefully in our homes. We need special courts and a dedicated agency to take care of our cases,” said the survivor, hailing from North 24 Parganas.