Rehabilitation of Women in Prostitution – A time for Action
The Supreme Court has issued notice to all States and Union of India on the issue of Rehabilitation. This is the right time we thought seriously about rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking. We don’t need to think about ifs and buts- it is time for action.
Ravi Kant , Advocate Supreme Court of India & President, Shakti Vahini
Recently the Supreme Court had issued notice to all states while noting down the concern on the pathetic conditions of Sex Workers:
“ Although we have dismissed this Appeal, we strongly feel that the Central and the State Governments through Social Welfare Boards should prepare schemes for rehabilitation all over the country for physically and sexually abused women commonly known as prostitutes as we are of the view that the prostitutes also have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India since they are also human beings and their problems also need to be addressed. As already observed by us, a woman is compelled to indulge in prostitution not for pleasure but because of abject poverty. If such a woman is granted opportunity to avail some technical or vocational training, she would be able to earn her livelihood by such vocational training and skill instead of by selling her body. Hence, we direct the Central and the State Governments to prepare schemes for giving technical/vocational training to sex workers and sexually abused women in all cities in India. The schemes should mention in detail who will give the technical/vocational training and in what manner they can be rehabilitated and settled by offering them employment. For instance, if a technical training is for some craft like sewing garments, etc. then some arrangements should also be made for providing a market for such garments, otherwise they will remain unsold and unused, and consequently the women will not be able to feed herself.
We propose to have the response of the Centre and the States in this regard and hence the case shall be listed before us again on 04.05.2011 to be taken up as first case on which date the first compliance report indicating therein the first steps taken by the Central and the State Governments in this regard shall be submitted. Issue notice to the Central Government and all the State Governments which will also file responses by the date fixed for hearing.”
The court was expressing anguish and concern about failure of the Union of India and the States to effectively implement the National Plan of Action 1998 to combat trafficking and Rehabilitation has caused irreparable damage to lakhs of victims who have been caught in this illegal trade. The applicants states that this Honourable Court in Gaurav Jain Vs Union of India keeping in view of the legislative inertia and the consequent failure of the government directed that a high level committee be constituted to make an indepth study of these problems and to evolve such guidelines to protect the rights and interest of victims of sexual exploitation. It also laid down certain guidelines and further directed that a high level committee be constituted to make an indepth study of these problems and to evolve such suitable schemes as are appropriate and consistent with the guidelines.
The central government pursuant to the directions issued by this Honurable Court in Gaurav Jain case constituted a “Committee on the Prostitution , Child Prostitutes & Plan of Action to combat trafficking and commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children”. In 1998 a Report containing an Action Plan was prepared by the Department of Women and Child Government of India . Apart from the highlighting the problems faced in addressing issues of commercial sexual exploitation which are set out hereinafter detailed recommendations were made with a view to arrest the systematic problem , including issues relating to law enforcement and legal reforms.
The above recommendations have not been implemented. In fact there has never been any serious attempt by Respondents to address the issues /recommendations made by the committee. Further the Action Plan does not have any budgetary or non budgetary support from the Government. The petitioner believes that there has been no study relating to the economic cost of implementing the recommendation and the sources through which such costs could be met. In the years from 2001- 2010 the Government of India has focused its initiatives on the issue to combat trafficking. It has formulated the Swadhar and Ujjwala initiatives which are primarily aimed at rehabilitation of trafficked victims. The Government of India in 2010 has formed special Anti Human Trafficking Units across the country under the Ministry of Home Affairs . Apart from the above mentioned initiatives the respondents have failed miserably to formulate special schemes for rehabilitation of women who are in prostitution and also failed to implement the guidelines which were formulated in the National Plan of Action 1998 for rehabilitation of women in the red light area.
The Govt of India , UNIFEM and National Human Rights Commission undertook a study on the issue of Human Trafficking and to propose recommendations to combat this crime. The NHRC report came out with a set of recommendations which have till date not been complied with. The failure to implement the measures set out in 1998 Plan of Action and also the recommendations of the NHRC report has caused severe injury and prejudice to the victims of prostitution . The legislative deficit, coupled by callousness displayed by the respondents continues to ruin the lives of lakhs of women who are caught up in the Illegal Sex Trade being openly run from the red light areas. The respondents have failed and neglected to accept responsibility and discharge their duty as mandated by law.
Due to the callous attitude of the Union of India and the various state governments the trade in the red light area has been thriving. Combined with lax law enforcement and insufficient support structures the trafficking in Human Beings is on the increase. It is due to the problem of trafficking the victims are forcefully pushed into this illegal and viscous trade. The victims are mostly minors when they are brought and are sold to the organized crime thriving in the red light areas. From there these victims are tortured and forced into prostitution. The victims are kept in bonded conditions and are forced to live a life of bondage , sexual slavery , repeated and forced rape , deprivation of basic human rights and hidden away from law enforcement agencies. The victims after repeated human rights violation , continued torture and bodily harm are forced to do and act as there captors desire. These victims are then forced to cater to ten to fifteen men each day . This bonded conditions continue for at least seven to ten years or until the victim can be rescued. The seven to ten years of bonded and sexual slavery is serious violation of Article 23 (3) and Article 21 of the Constitution of India. During this period the victims is forced to suffer repeated rape ten to fifteen times and also during this process of forced and sexual slavery the victim also gets exposed to Sexually Transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. The economics of the illegal trade of human misery and also the the exploitation has been vividly explained in the NHRC / UNIFEM
The victim after immense suffering and years of exploitation and sexual slavery multiplied with lax law enforcement is left with no choice but to continue in the illegal trade. The victims cannot return to their homes for the fear of stigma and shame. They are left to their pathetic situations. Some of them are forced to continue in the trade and many with no choice left become part and parcel of the illegal trade. The Victims continue to suffer and with no rehabilitation or support from the government are left to beg and die in utter neglect. They don’t even venture out as they will be further exploited. Thus the suffering and violation of basic human rights and fundamental rights continue .
The Honourable Court in VishalJeet Vs Union of India explained the pathetic situation of the victims:
“No denying the fact that prostitution always remains as a running sore in the body of civilisation and destroys all moral values. The causes and evil effects of prostitution maligning the society are so notorious and frightful that none can gainsay it. This malignity is daily and hourly threatening the community at large slowly but steadily making its way onwards leaving a track marked with broken hopes. Therefore, the necessity for appropriate and drastic action to eradicate this evil has become apparent but its successful consummation ultimately rests with the public at large.
It is highly deplorable and heart-rending to note that many poverty stricken children and girls in the prime of youth are taken to ’flesh market’ and forcibly pushed into the ’flesh trade’ which is being carried on in utter violation of all cannons of morality, decency and dignity of humankind. There cannot be two opinions–indeed there is none–that this obnoxious and abominable crime committed with all kinds of unthinkable vulgarity should be eradicated at all levels by drastic steps.”
The Honurable Supreme Court in Vishaljeet Vs Union of India laid down certain guidelines for eradication of the malady :
This devastating malady can be suppressed and eradicated only if the law enforcing authorities in that regard take very severe and speedy legal action against all the erring persons such as pimps, brokers and brothel keepers. The Courts in such cases have to always take a serious view of this matter and inflict consign punishment on proof of such offences. Apart from legal action, both the Central and the State Government who have got an obligation to safeguard the interest and welfare of the children and girls of this country have to evaluate various measures and implement them in the right direction.Bhagwati, J. (as he then was) in Lakshmi Kant Pandey v.Union of India,  2 SCC 244 while emphasizing the importance of children has expressed his view thus: “It is obvious that in a civilized society the importance of child welfare cannot be over-emphasized, because the welfare of the entire community, its growth and development, depend on the health and well-being of its children. Children are a ’supremely important national asset’ and the future wellbeing of the nation depends on how its children grow and develop.”
We, after bestowing our deep and anxious consideration on this matter feel that it would be appropriate if certain directions are given in this regard. Accordingly, we make the following directions:
1. All the State Governments and the Governments of Union Territories should direct their concerned law enforcing authorities to take appropriate and speedy action under the existing laws in eradicating child prostitution without giving room for any complaint of remissness or culpable indifference.
2. The State Governments and the Governments of Union Territories should set up a separate Advisory Committee within their respective zones consisting of the secretary of the Social Welfare Department or Board, the Secretary of the Law Department, sociologists, criminologists, members of the women’s organisations, members of Indian Council of Child Welfare and Indian Council of Social Welfare as well the members of various voluntary social organisations and associations etc., the main objects of the Advisory Committee being to make suggestions of:
(a) the measures to be taken in eradicating the child prostitution, and
(b) the social welfare programmes to be implemented for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of the young fallen victims namely the children and girls rescued either from the brothel houses or from the vices of prostitution.
3. All the State Governments and the Governments of Union Territories should take steps in providing adequate and rehabilitative homes manned by well-qualified trained social workers, psychiatarists and doctors.
4. The Union Government should set up a committee of its own in the line, we have suggested under direction No.(2) the main object of which is to evolve welfare programmes to be implemented on the national level for the care, protection, rehabilitation etc. etc. of the young fallen victims namely the children and girls and to make suggestions of amendments to the existing laws or for enactment of any new law, if so warranted for the prevention of sexual exploitation of children.
5. The Central Government and the Governments of States and Union Territories should devise a machinery of its own for ensuring the proper implementation of the suggestions that would be made by the respective committees.
6. The Advisory Committee can also go deep into devadasi system and Jogin tradition and give their valuable advice and suggestions as to what best the Government could do in that regard.
7. The copies of the affidavits and the list containing the names of 9 girls are directed to be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi for necessary action. We may add that we are not giving an exhaustive list of the members for the constitution of the committee. Therefore, it is open to the concerned Government to include any member or members in the committee as it deems necessary.
We hope and trust that he directions given by us will go a long way towards eradicating the malady of child prostitution, Devadasi system and Jogin tradition and will also at the same time protect and safeguard the interests of the children by preventing of the sexual abuse and exploitation.
The Honourable Supreme Court in Gaurav Jain vs Union of India had keeping in view the legislative inertia and the consequent failure of the Government to protect the rights and interest of the victims ,laid down certain guidelines and further directed high level committee be constituted to make an indepth study of these problems and to evolve such suitable schemes as are appropriate and consistent with the guidelines. The Supreme Court realizing the enormity of the problem and the need to urgently mend the systematic and symbolic failures proceeded to give further directions in the manner as follows:
“The Minister of Welfare, Government of India will constitute a Committee consisting of the Secretary in charge of Department of Women the Child Development as the chairperson and three or four Secretaries from the concerned State Governments, to be nominated by the Minister of Welfare. They would make an in-depth study into these problems and evolve such suitable schemes as are appropriate and consistent with the directions given above. The Committee should be constituted within one month from the date of the receipt of this judgment. The Committee should finalise the report within three months thereafter. As soon as the report is submitted. the same may be communicated to all the State Governments and the concerned Ministries for their examination. Within two month from date of the communication, the Minister of Welfare, Government of India, in coordination with the Prime Minister Office should convene a meeting presided over by the Prime Minister, with Minister of Welfare, Home Minister, Human Resource Minister, the concerned Minister, Human Resource Minister, the concerned Ministers of the State Governments and their Secretaries as well to discuss the problem and take decision. The Committee should finalise the report with further suggestions or amendments, if suggested in the conference. Thereafter, the report should be finalised and then direction would be given to the State Governments for effective implementation of the schemes. The nodal Department would enforce and regularly be supervised by the Ministry of Welfare, Government of India. A permanent Committee of Secretaries should be constituted to review the progress of the implementation on annual basis, and to take such other steps as may be expedient in the effective implementation of the schemes. Periodical progress as to funding and enforcement of the scheme should be submitted to the Registry of this Court. If further directions would be needed, liberty is given to the parties to approach this Court. In that view of the matter, it is believed and hoped that the above law and directions would relieve the human problem by rehabilitation of the unfortunate fallen women cought in the trap of prostitution ; their children would be brought into the mainstream of the social order ; these directions would enable them to avail the equality of opportunity and of status, with dignity of person which are the arch of the Constitution.”
The Advisory committee formed pursuant to the judgement of this Honourable Court in Vishal Jeet vs Union of India have remained defunct and many states have not even convened meetings of the committee. The Central Advisory Committee formed by the Government of India , Ministry of Women and Child has been meeting regularly since 2005 and has been addressing the problems of trafficking. Though the committee has not focused on the issue of rehabilitation of women in prostitution. These committees were formed with the intention to promote inter department cooperation and approach the problem in a unified manner.
When Shakti Vahini (Writ Petition 190 0f 2002) had petitioned to the Supreme Court that such committees were not functional and pursuant to the Supreme Court notice many governments had formed the committees just to file affidavits in the Supreme Court. After that again these committees became non functional. The National Plan of Action 1998 formed pursuant to the Honourable Supreme Court order has remained a dead document as nothing much has been done for the emancipation of women victims.
The National Human Rights Commission in 2006 has also framed a Plan of Action to combat Trafficking but the same has also remained as a dead document. The Government of India has initiated several initiatives in collaboration with NGOs to combat trafficking and has also formed a special cell in the Ministry of home Affairs , Government of India as the Nodal Agency for the Anti Human trafficking Units. The law enforcement agencies are also being sensitized on the issue of Trafficking and several modules for police trainings have been formulated by United Nations office on Drugs and Crimes ( UNODC) , Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) and Ministry of Home Affairs. The Union of India in collaboration with NGOs has launched Ujjwala and Swadhar Schemes which are more focused towards trafficked children and as short stay homes.
The Government of India unfortunately has till date not devised any proper scheme for rehabilitation for women in prostitution so that they can become part of the mainstream.
Ratification of the UN Protocol on Human Trafficking
The Government of India has recently ratified the UN Protocol . This also implies that Government of India formally adopting definition of Human Trafficking which is :“Trafficking in persons” which shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
The UN Protocol makes Human Trafficking and Smuggling a organised crime and call upon states to provide victim support , victim repatriation , witness support and protection , Joint Investigations between member nations etc. It specially calls upon nations to ensure implementing measures to provide for the physical, psychological and social recovery of victims of trafficking in persons, including, in appropriate cases, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society, and, in particular, the provision of: (a) Appropriate housing; (b) Counselling and information, in particular as regards their legal rights, in a language that the victims of trafficking in persons can understand; (c) Medical, psychological and material assistance; and (d) Employment, educational and training opportunities. It mandates nations to ensure that take into account the age, gender and special needs of victims of trafficking in persons, in particular the special needs of children, including appropriate housing, education and care. It also provides for nations to provide for the physical safety of victims of trafficking in persons while they are within its territory and ensure that its domestic legal system contains measures that offer victims of trafficking in persons the possibility of obtaining compensation for damage suffered. It takes a commitment from nations that they shall establish comprehensive policies, programmes and other measures inter alia to prevent and combat trafficking in persons; and (b) to protect victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, from revictimization. States Parties shall endeavour to undertake measures such as research, information and mass media campaigns and social and economic initiatives to prevent and combat trafficking in persons. Policies, programmes and other measures established in accordance with this article shall, as appropriate, include cooperation with non-governmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society.States Parties shall take or strengthen measures, including through bilateral or multilateral cooperation, to alleviate the factors that make persons, especially women and children, vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity. States Parties shall adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures, such as educational, social or cultural measures, including through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking.
It mandates that nations shall, as appropriate, cooperate with one another by exchanging information, in accordance with their domestic law, to enable them to determine: (a) whether individuals crossing or attempting to cross an international border with travel documents belonging to other persons or without travel documents are perpetrators or victims of trafficking in persons; the types of travel document that individuals have used or attempted to use to cross an international border for the purpose of trafficking in persons; and the means and methods used by organized criminal groups for the purpose of trafficking in persons, including the recruitment and transportation of victims, routes and links between and among individuals and groups engaged in such trafficking, and possible measures for detecting them.
It ensures that nations shall provide or strengthen training for law enforcement, immigration and other relevant officials in the prevention of trafficking in persons. The training should focus on methods used in preventing such trafficking, prosecuting the traffickers and protecting the rights of the victims, including protecting the victims from the traffickers. The training should also take into account the need to consider human rights and child- and gender-sensitive issues and it should encourage cooperation with nongovernmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society.
The Government of India and the various states have failed in their duty as the problem of prostitution is a serious violation of Fundamental Rights as enshrined in Article 21 and Article 23 of the Constitution of India. India is also a signatory to international conventions such as the Convention on Rights of the Child (1989), Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979), UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2000) and the latest South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution (2002). The Constitutional , International, Statutory obligations and orders of the Honourable Supreme Court makes it mandatory for the Government of India and the different state Government to combat this heinous organised crime and also to provide support to the victims of Prostitution.
Rehabilitation / Compensation approach
The Supreme Court in Bandhua Mukti Morcha 1984 (3) SCC 161 has elucidated the rehabilitation of Bonded Labour and directed the Government to award compensation to Bonded labour under the provisions of Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 after taking note of serious violation of Fundamental & Human Rights :
“The other question arising out of the implementation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 is that of rehabilitation of the released bonded labourers and that is also a question of the greatest importance, because if the bonded labourers who are identified and freed, are not rehabilitated, their condition would be much worse than what it was before during the period of their serfdom and they would become more exposed to exploitation and slide back once again into serfdom even in the absence of any coercion.
The bonded labourer who is released would prefer slavery to hunger, a world of ‘bondage and (illusory) security’ as against a world of freedom and starvation. The State Governments must therefore concentrate on rehabilitation of bonded labour and evolve effective programmes for this purpose. Indeed they are under an obligation to do so under the provisions of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976. It may be pointed out that the concept of rehabilitation has the following four main features as admirably set out in the letter dated 2nd September 1982 addressed by the Secretary. Ministry of Labour, Government of India to the various States Governments:
(i) Psychological rehabilitation must go side by side with physical and economic rehabilitation;
(ii) The physical and economic rehabilitation has 15 major components namely allotment of house-sites and agricultural land, land development, provision of low cost dwelling units, agriculture, provision of credit, horticulture, animal husbandry, training for acquiring 134 new skills and developing existing skills, promoting traditional arts and crafts, provision of wage employment and enforcement of minimum wages, collection and processing of minor forest produce, health medical care and sanitation supply of essential commodities, education of children of bonded labourers and protection civil rights;
(iii) There is scope for bringing about an integration among the various central and centrally sponsored schemes and the on-going schemes of the State Governments for a more qualitative rehabilitation. The essence of such integration is to avoid duplication i.e. pooling resources from different sources for the same purpose. It should be ensured that while funds are not drawn from different sources for the same purpose drawn from different sectors for different components of the rehabilitation scheme are integrated skillfully;and
(iv) While drawing up any scheme/programme of rehabilitation of freed bonded labour, the latter must necessarily be given the choice between the various alternatives for their rehabilitation and such programme should be finally selected for execution as would need the total requirements of the families of freed bonded labourers to enable them to cross the poverty line on the one hand and to prevent them from sliding back to debt bondage on the other.
We would therefore direct the Government of Haryana to draw up a scheme on programme for “a better and more meaningful rehabilitation of the freed bonded labourers” in the light of the above guidelines set out by the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Labour in his letter dated 2nd September 1982. The other State Governments are not parties before us and hence we cannot give any direction to them, but we hope and trust that they will also take suitable steps for the purpose of securing identification, release and rehabilitation of bonded labourers on the lines indicated by us in this Judgment.”
The compensation since 1978 has undergone a change and presently the compensation is Rs20,000 and access to Government schemes of poverty alleviation and also housing under Indira Awas Yojana .
Supreme Court in MC Mehta vs State of Tamil Nadu and Others – Writ Petition (Civil) No.465/1986 seeing the severe violation of fundamental rights in cases of child labour laid down guidelines for compensation and rehabilitation :
“ It may be that the problem would be taken care of to some extent by insisting on compulsory education. Indeed, Neera thinks that if there is at all a blueprint for tackling the problem of child labour, it is education. Even if it were to be so, the child of a poor parent would not receive education, if per force it has to earn to make the family meet both the ends. therefore, unless the family is assured of income allude, problem of child labour would hardly get solved; and it is this vital question which has remained almost unattended. We are, however, of the view that till an alternative income is assured to the family, the question of abolition of child labour would really remain a will-o’-the wisp. Now, if employment of child below that age of 14 is a constitutional indication insofar as work in any factory or mine or engagement in other hazardous work, and if it has to be seen that all children are given education till the age of 14 years in view of this being a fundamental right now, and if the wish embodied in Article 39(e) that the tender age of children is not abused and citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocation unsuited to their age, and if children are to be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and childhood is to be protected against exploitation as visualised by Article 39(f), it seems to us that the least we ought to do is see to the fulfillment of legislative intendment behind enactment of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Taking guidance therefrom, we are of the view that the offending employer must be asked to pay compensation for every child employed in contravention of the provisions of the Act a sum of Rs.20,000/-; and the Inspectors, whose appointment is visualised by section 17 to secure compliance with the provisions of the Act, should do this job. The inspectors appointed under section 17 would see that for each child employed in violation of the provisions of the Act, the concerned employer pays Rs.20,000/- which sum could be deposited in a fund to be known as Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund. The liability of the employer would not cease even if he would desire to disengage the child presently employed. It would perhaps be appropriate to have such a fund district wise or area wise. The fund so generated shall form corpus whose income shall be used only for the concerned child. The quantum could be the income earned on the corpus deposited qua the child. To generate greater income, fund can be deposited in high yielding scheme of any nationalised bank or other public body.
As the aforesaid income could not be enough to dissuade the parent/guardian to seek employment of the child, the State owes a duty to come forward to discharge its obligation in this regard. After all, the aforementioned constitutional provisions have to be implemented by the appropriate Government, which expression has been defined in section 2(i) of the Act to mean, in relation to establishment under the control of the Central Government or a railway administration or a major port of a mine or oil field, the Central Government, and in all other cases, the State Government.
Now, strictly speaking a strong case exists to invoke the and of an Article 41 of the Constitution regarding the right to work and to give meaning to what has been provided in Article 47 relating to raising of standard of living of the population, and Articles 39(e) and (f) as to non-abuse of tender age of children and giving opportunities and facilities to them to develop in healthy manner, for asking the State to see that an adult member of the family, whose child is in employment in a factory or a mine or in other hazardous work, gets a job anywhere, in lieu of the child. This would also see the fulfillment of the wish contained in Article 41 after about half a century of its being in the paramount parchment, like primary education desired by Article 45, having been given the status of fundamental right by the decision in Unni Krishnan. We are, however, not asking the State at this stage to ensure alternative employment in every case covered by Article 24, as Article 41 speaks about right to work “within the limits of the economic capacity and development of the State”. The very large number of child-labour in the aforesaid occupations would require giving of job to very large number of adults, if we were to ask the appropriate Government to assure alternative employment in every case, which would strain the resources of the State, in case it would not have been able to secure job for an adult in a private sector establishment or, for that matter, in a public sector organisation., we are not issuing any direction to do so presently. Instead, we leave the matter to be sorted out by the appropriate Government. In those cases where it would not be possible to provide job as above-mentioned, the appropriate Government would, as its contribution/grant, deposit in the aforesaid Fund a sum of Rs.5,000/- for each child employed in a factory or mine or in any other hazardous employment.
The aforesaid would either see an adult (whose name would be suggested by the parent/guardian of the concerned child) getting a job in lieu of the child, or deposit of a sum of Rs.25,000/- in the Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum- Welfare Fund. In case of getting employment for an adult, the parent/guardian shall have to see that his child is spared from the requirement to do the job, as an alternative source of income would have become available to him.”
The Supreme Court in Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum Vs. Union India and others writ petition (CRL) No.362/93 in recognition of severe violation of Fundamental rights of Rape Victims had directed the National Commission Women to evolve a “scheme so as to wipe out the tears of unfortunate victims of rape’’. The Supreme Court observed that having regard to the Directive Principles contained in Article of the Constitution, it was necessary to set up a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, as rape victims besides the mental anguish, frequently incur substantial financial and in some cases are too traumatized to continue in employment.
“ In this background, we think it necessary to indicate the broad parameters in assisting the victims of rape.The complainants of sexual assault cases should be provided with legal representation. It is important to have someone who is well- acquainted with the criminal justice system. The role of the victim’s advocate would not only be to explain to the victim the nature of the proceedings, to prepare her for the case and to assist her in the police station and in court but to provide her with guidance as to how she might obtain help of a different nature from other agencies, for example, mind counseling or medical assistance. It is important to secure continuity of assistance by ensuring that the same person who looked after the complainant’s interests in the police station represent her till the end of the case.
(2) Legal assistance will have to be provided at the police station since the victim of sexual assault might very well be in a distressed state upon arrival at the police station, the guidance and support of a lawyer at this stage and whilst she was being questioned would be of great assistance to her.
(3)The police should be under a duty to inform the victim of her right to representation before any questions were asked of her and that the police report should state that the victim was so informed.
(4) A list of advocates willing to act in these cases should be kept at the police station for victims who did not have a particular lawyer in mind or whose own lawyer was unavailable.
(5)The advocate shall be appointed by the court, upon application by the police at the earliest convenient moment, but in order to ensure that victims were questioned without undue delay, advocates would be authorised to act at the police station before leave of the court was sought or obtained.
(6)In all rape trials anonymity of the victim must be maintained, as far as necessary.
(7)It is necessary, having regard to the Directive Principles contained under Article 38(1) of the Constitution of India to set up Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Rape victims frequently incur substantial financial loss. Some, for example, are too traumatised to continue in employment.
(8) Compensation for victims shall be awarded by the court on conviction of the offender and by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board whether or not a conviction has taken place. The Board will take into account pain, suffering and shock as well as loss of earnings due to pregnancy and the expenses of child birth if this occurred as a result of the rape.
16. On this aspect of the matter we can usefully refer to the following passage from The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (1994 Edn.) at pages 1237-38 as to the position in England:
”Compensation payable by the offender was introduced in the Criminal Justice Act, 1972 which gave the Courts powers to make an ancillary order for compensation in addition to the main penalty in cases where ‘injury, loss, or damage’ had resulted. The Criminal Justice Act, 1982 made it possible for the first time to make a compensation order as the sole penalty. It also required that in cases where fines and compensation orders were given together, the payment of compensation should take priority over the fine. These developments signified a major shift in penological thinking, reflecting the growing importance attached to restitution and reparation over the more narrowly retributive aims of conventional punishment. The Criminal Justice Act, 1988 furthered this shift. It required courts to consider the making of a compensation order in every case of death, injury, loss or damage and, where such an order was not given, impose a duty on the court to give reasons for not doing so. it also extended the range of injuries eligible for compensation. These new requirements mean that if the court fails to make a compensation order it must furnish reasons. Where reasons are given, the victim may apply for these to be subject to judicial review ….
The 1991 Criminal Justice Act contains a number of provisions which directly or indirectly encourage an even greater role for compensation.”
17.Section 10 of the Act states that the National Commission for men shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely:, (a) Investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws. (b) Call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women and identify the constraints so as to recommend strategies for their removal.
18. Having regard to the above provisions, the third respondent will have to evolve such scheme as to wipe out the tears of such unfortunate victims. such a scheme shall be prepared within six months from the date of this judgment. Thereupon, the Union of India, will examine the same and shall necessary steps for the implementation of the scheme at the earliest.
The National Commission for Women pursuant to the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court has drafted a scheme for Compensation. Some states have already started the implementation of the scheme. The scheme The scheme has proposed a compensation of Rs2 to Rs3 Lakhs for Rape victims.
The Government of India has recently amended the The Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 as amended by The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act 2008 ( 5 of 2009) has now an added provision in the form of the section 357-A on victim compensation.
“357A. Victim compensation scheme. — (1) Every State Government in co-ordination with the Central Government shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for the purpose of compensation to the victim or his dependents who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who, require rehabilitation.
(2) Whenever a recommendation is made by the Court for compensation, the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority, as the case may be, shall decide the quantum of compensation to be awarded under the scheme referred to in sub-section (1).
(3) If the trial Court, at the conclusion of the trial, is satisfied, that the compensation awarded under section 357 is not adequate for such rehabilitation, or where the cases end in acquittal or discharge and the victim has to be rehabilitated, it may make recommendation for compensation.
(4) Where the offender is not traced or identified, but the victim is identified, and where no trial takes place, the victim or his dependents may make an application to the State or the District Legal Services Authority for award of compensation.
(5) On receipt of such recommendations or on the application under sub-section
(4), the State or the District Legal Services Authority shall, after due enquiry award adequate compensation by completing the enquiry within two months.
(6) The State or the District Legal Services Authority, as the case may be, to alleviate the suffering of the victim, may order for immediate first-aid facility or medical benefits to be made available free of cost on the certificate of the police officer not below the rank of the officer in charge of the police station or a Magistrate of the area concerned, or any other interim relief as the appropriate authority deems fit.”.
Article 23of the Constitution of India prohibits ,”Traffic in Human Beings” this Honourable Court has held that the expression “Traffic in Person” in Article 23(1) of the Constitution of India is evidently a very wide expression which includes the prohibition of traffic in women for immoral and other purposes . In the case of women in prostitution the failure to implement the National Plan of Action drafted pursuant to the Judgement in Gaurav Jain vs Union of India has resulted in serious deprivation of fundamental rights.
The trafficked victims and women in prostitution go through serious fundamental rights violation which includes bondage and sexual slavery and repeated rape and gang rape. The crimes are very serious in nature which results in deprivation of Fundamental Rights and therefore the state is liable. As mentioned above this Honourable Court has already ordered compensation in Bonded Labour and for victims of Rape , the victims of Human Trafficking and women in Prostitution also are eligible for compensation from the State.
The failiure of the Union of India and the State Governments to draft a suitable rehabilitation scheme for women in prostitution is a serious violation of orders of this Honourable Court and also violation and deprivation of Article 21 and Article 23(1) of the Constitution of India. Article 23 read with Article 39, 41 and 42 together constitute inalienable rights and the failure to grant such right would constitute deprivation of basic fundamental rights. The problem of trafficking and prostitution is also serious violation of Article 14 , Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
A way forward – Suggested Recommendations
Shakti Vahini after held several meetings with women victims of the red light area of GB Road on the issue of Rehabilitation after the Honourable Supreme Court issued notice to the Union of India and all states in the present case. The victims have provided suggestions as to how the State can formulate schemes which can help them to reintegrate back to the society. The victims have also come out with suggestions so that they can be reintegrated in the society and also be rehabilitated which are as follows:
1. Compensation to be paid for serious violation and deprivation of Fundamental rights.
2. The women in prostitution are in bondage condition for several years . As a result there is a serious loss of identity and the organised crime changes their names frequently. This ultimately leads to having no identity and hence access to government schemes and government facilities are completely not available to the Victims. The Government of India and the State Government should at once issue identity cards , Ration Cards , UID Cards so that domicile can be proved. Without these documents the women have no approach to the government facilities.
3) The Women victims of prostitution and Human Trafficking undergo serious violation of Fundamental rights and are forced to live a life of sexual slavery and bondage. They have no source of income and they should be treated as Below Poverty Line. This will enable them to access the schemes for Poverty Alleviation.
4) Most of the victims of Human Trafficking and Women in Prostitution belong to the lower strata of the society and are tribals and belong to the SC and ST communities. The schemes for alleviation of these communities should be open to all those victims who belong to such communities
5) The Government should provide schemes for training and Income generation programme and also link these schemes with Nationalised Banks and agencies like Rashtriya Mahila Kosh . The training provided should encourage entrepreneurship and this needs to be supported by easy and low interest credit. Services of NGOs can be asked to provide mentor support.
6) The victims of trafficking and prostitution who want to leave the place should be provided residential facilities and rehabilitation scheme as soon as possible.
7) All schemes of social security and Health facilities should be accessible to victims of trafficking.
Legal aid and legal support should be provided to the victims .
9) States in destination area should also accept responsibility of victims as they are liable because their fundamental rights violation has taken in the destination areas. This is because many a times states pass on the responsibility of the victims on the home state and the home states accepts no responsibility.
10) The present schemes of swadhar and Ujjwala are completely irrelevant compared to the magnanimity of the crime.
11) Any scheme devised by the Government of India should have strong budgetary support.
12) The victims of trafficking and women in prostitution categorically state they are victims of organised crime and have landed in this situation due to they were forced in this situation. They all agree that in no case prostitution should be allowed or regulated.
13) Government should frame stringent laws to convict traffickers who indulge in trafficking of women and children. The Law enforcement agencies should take action against such criminals.
14) The whole illegal business of prostitution is run by organised crime who have links across the country. The honourable court should direct the law enforcement agencies to launch investigation against these perpetrators
When the Supreme Court said that the victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation should be provided “ a life of dignity” it should not be meant that the court is talking about legalization. Organizations and individuals with vested interest who have to gain from such illegal trade start speaking about the legalization issue.
It is a reality that Govt of India has never had a serious view on the issue of rehabilitation. It may be thing of past as the Government of India with the liberalization of the economy has now no dearth of the funds to do it. The Government is already spending huge amounts in National Rural Health Mission, Sarva Shiksha Abhjiyan , National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme, Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) & etc.
Recently the Government of India has launched Anti Human Trafficking Units across the country. This is a specialised force which will work exclusively to combat Human Trafficking. The results are already being felt with more such gangs being busted. This is the right time we thought seriously about rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking. We don’t need to think about ifs and buts- it is time for action.
The writer is practising advocate in the Supreme Court of India and is President of Shakti Vahini a leading non governmental organization working on anti trafficking. He can be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org