Maneka Gandhi defends anti-trafficking Bill

New Delhi: The Anti-Trafficking Bill, passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, “will not facilitate or harass sex workers,” Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi told the House.

In a reply to senior Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor, Maneka said: “There is no question of harassing them… the Bill focuses on the victim, a voluntary sex worker is not a victim.”

The Bill seeks protection and rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking and prosecution of offenders.

Maneka said the House has received comments from two groups, one representing the victims and the other representing the sex workers.

“Tharoor represents the second group,” the Minister said.

Debating on The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, Tharoor said: “Section 370 of the IPC is used extensively against sex workers in conjunction with Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 (ITPA) and there are numerous instances in which the police have threatened sex workers under this section, demanding bribes and even sex.”

He said the Bill had no safeguards against the misuse.