The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act or ITPA is a 1986 amendment of legislation passed in 1956 as a result of the signing by India of the United Nations’ declaration in 1950 in New York on the suppression of trafficking.
The act, then called the All India Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act (SITA), was amended to the current law. The laws were intended as a means of limiting and eventually abolishing prostitution in India by gradually criminalising various aspects of sex work.
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About Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986
- In 1950 the Government of India ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of others. In 1956 India passed the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 (SITA)
- SITA was amended in 1986 and the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act was passed
- The act states the illegality of prostitution and the punishment for owning any such related establishment
- Any person involved in any phase of the chain activities like recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring, or receiving of people for the purpose of prostitution is also liable to be punished
- If a person is found guilty of involving a child in any such activity, he/she is punishable by law and may be imprisoned for seven or more years
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Following the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act many other Organisations took initiatives to end the trafficking of people for the offensive crime of sexual abuse or forced prostitution.
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Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2006
The Immoral Traffic Prevention Amendment Bill, 2006 is a revised version of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986. Given below are the important points of the Amendment bill:
- The Bill deletes provisions that penalised prostitutes for soliciting clients. It penalises any person visiting a brothel for the purpose of sexual exploitation of trafficked victims
- All offences listed in the Bill would be tried in camera, i.e., the public would be excluded from attending the trial
- This Bill punishes trafficking for the purpose of prostitution. Trafficking for other purposes (such as bonded labour and domestic work) are not covered by the Bill
- The Bill constitutes authorities at the centre and state level to combat trafficking. However, it does not elaborate on the role, function and composition of these authorities
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Initiatives to combat trafficking of Women and Children
Apart from the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, various other initiatives have been taken up by the Government and other concerned authorities. Discussed below are the same:
- National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children 1998 was formulated
- Ministry of Home Affairs has set up a dedicated cell for prevention of trafficking
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) along with the Ministry of External Affairs has endeavoured to create special task forces to combat cross border trafficking
- The MWCD in collaboration with NIPCCD and UNICEF has developed three manuals for ‘Judicial Handbook on combating Trafficking of women and Children for Commercial Sexual Exploitation’
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