One special court for human trafficking

TIMES OF INDIA

MUMBAI: The hope for justice for women that is resounding around the country may stay unrealised unless the government infuses resources into the fight. Activists point out that while the law mandates a special court in every district for cases of human trafficking, Maharashtra at present has just one magistrate to try such crimes. This paucity of special courts, activists argue, impedes swift disposal of trafficking cases and conviction rates.

Dr S Anand of the NGO Save the Children notes that India is the “source, transit route and destination of human trafficking”. In Maharashtra, he says, the “source area” of human trafficking is villages, but these regions lack designated courts to deal with the offence. Only Mumbai has a special court for trials related to Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.

Save the Children has been working to prevent human trafficking in “source areas”, where communities are vulnerable and ignorant of the issue. “Either police or the prosecution does not present the facts of the case properly. Thus, few convictions take place,” says Dr Anand.

Activists concede that the government has taken positive measures towards rescue of children and women. “Trafficking does not happen only for flesh trade. The objectives behind the crime also are organ donation and cheap labour. While the government has applied curative measures by rescuing women from brothels, work in the preventive sense is needed,” says Nandini Thakkar, a lawyer and an activist with Save the Children.

Thakkar adds that the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, which was introduced to prevent commercial sexual exploitation, states the need for special courts in relevant districts. But till now, there is one such court in the state. “Convictions and acquittals in such matters is a long-drawn process. Without proper authority, these cases go unnoticed,” she explains.

Advocate S N Raj concludes, “The presence of just one special court for PITA cases in Mumbai does cause protraction of trials.”

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