Trafficking women and children to push them into prostitution will now invite harsher punishment and longer jail term. A government panel has not only suggested stringent penalty for those running the sex trade but also those using their services.
In its report, submitted recently, the inter-ministerial panel has expanded the definition of prostitution to include “sexual exploitation or abuse of persons for commercial purposes including for consideration in money or in any other kind”.
“The idea is to criminalise demand through client punishment,” said a member of the panel set up by the women and child development ministry to review the amendments to the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA).
For example, soliciting a sex worker for swinging a business deal will invite a jail term of up to five years with a fine of Rs. 10,000. Trafficking children to push them into sex trade may even lead to a life in prison and a fine of Rs. 2 lakh.
“The existing provisions of the act were not very effective in checking trafficking. So it was decided to make the ITPA more stringent,” said a ministry official.
Looking to deter all those involved, the panel has also said a person found using/renting or allowing use of his house for prostitution can be jailed for up to five years and fined Rs. 10,000 on first conviction. Second conviction may result in 10-year imprisonment and Rs. 1 lakh fine.
At present, these offences are punishable with a maximum of three years in jail and Rs. 2,000 in fine.
For the first time, “trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation” has been defined. A person guilty of trafficking can get up to seven years in jail and a fine of Rs. 10,000. Jail term will double for subsequent offence.
Courts should send the women picked up from brothels to rehabilitation homes instead of jail, the panel has said, calling for the act be renamed trafficking in persons and commercial sexual exploitation prevention act.
“We will soon finalise the amendments to the ITPA,” a ministry official said.