Indian Law Against Human Trafficking For Sex, To Target Clients

Himanshi Dhawan & Mahendra Kumar Singh

Indian Government is set to amend the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act to bring clients under its ambit, rendering them liable to imprisonment upto six months and a fine extending upto Rs 50,000.

The Union Cabinet will take up on Thursday the Immoral Traffic Prevention (Amendment) Bill to enhance the punishment for those involved in human trafficking for sex, and include clients among the offenders.

At present, "clients" don't come under the purview of the act in what has been seen by many as an infirmity in the law. The proposed amendment, which defines the client as "a person who visits or is found in a brothel," has run into angry protests from sex workers and NGOs.

The proposed amendment, part of the move to clamp down on the world's oldest profession, has attracted protests from NGOs and sex workers' representatives who have argued that the new amendments would drive sex work underground and criminalise clients.

The proposed amendments, as recommended by Parliament's standing committee, also provide for stricter punishment. For instance, "any person who keeps or manages a brothel" will now be liable for rigorous imprisonment of two years which may extend to three years and a fine which may extend to Rs 10,000 for a first conviction.

This may increase to seven years and a fine of Rs 2 lakh. For a person caught trafficking, the punishment can extend up to life imprisonment.

The Bill designed to amend ITPA also makes provision for setting up of a central authority that will work towards combating and prevention of trafficking.

NGOs and sex workers' associations, who have for long demanded that commercial sex be legalised, have carried out widespread protests.

Amongst the objections that they have to the changes are that they seek to penalise clients but in effect drive sex workers underground, criminalise consensual adult sex work and undermine HIV prevention interventions among sex workers and the general population.

ITPA had been tabled in Parliament last year and was referred to a standing committee. The recommendations of the committee were incorporated by the ministry of women and child development before the proposed legislation was made public.

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1 comment:

Tushar said...


Interesting to find you tracking India related Anti Human Trafficking issues. Would you like to start a thread on this issue in the discussion forum? is the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking website (for South Asia)

Would be happy to have you as part of our online community.