The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
had been passed by the Government
in order to combat trafficking and sexual exploitation for commercial purposes.
It was passed with the aim of providing support to prostitutes and individuals
who had been forced to sell themselves under coercion.
Although the statute is old in itself, it has had numerous amendments till date.
The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2006 is a landmark amendment
which has been proposed in order to cure some of the persistent defects that
continue to plague this statute.
For example, it recommends the deletion of the provisions that penalized
prostitutes from soliciting clients. Section 8 of the ITP Act penalizes
soliciting clients in a public place. However the definition of the term public
place is too large.
Section 8 provides that:
Whoever, in any public place or within sight of, and in such manner as to be
seen or heard from, any public place, whether from within any building or house
- by words, gestures, wilful exposure of his person (whether by sitting by a
window or on the balcony of a building or house or in any other way), or
otherwise tempts or endeavours to tempt, or attracts or endeavours to attract
the attention of, any person for the purpose of prostitution; or
- solicits or molests any person, or loiters or acts in such manner as to
cause obstruction or annoyance to persons residing nearby or passing by such
public place or to offend against public decency, for the purpose of
prostitution, shall be punishable on first conviction with imprisonment for
a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five
hundred rupees, or with both, and in the event of a second or subsequent
conviction, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, and
also with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees: 36 [Provided that
where an offence under this section is committed by a man, he shall be
punishable with imprisonment for a period of not less than seven days but
which may extend to three months.]
This provisions forces those involved in prostitution as well as the entire
industry to go underground making it much more difficult for police officers as
well as social workers to reach them and provide them with legal and other forms
In fact, their fear of being prosecuted often causes them to shun any form of
help from any outsider to the industry. Thus the recommendation can become a
great step in the right direction, allowing those involved in the industry to
step up and ask for help when required.
Further the definition of minor may be deleted and child may be redefined to
mean a person under the age of 18 years so as to enable the statute provide more
comprehensive protection to those who are victims in sexual trafficking.
The Act also doesn't bring within its purview trafficking for reasons other than
prostitution. In India trafficking for domestic work is a great cause of concern
wherein individuals often cause a great deal of harm to children whom they have
trafficked for providing domestic labour. Trafficking for other purposes (such
as bonded labour and domestic work) also therefore should be brought under the
purview of the statute.