PRESS RELEASES

Over 2500 survivors of human trafficking come together to launch India’s first ever forum of, for and by survivors - Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT)
  • 19 November 2019
  • 1:00Pm
  • New Delhi, India
ILFAT invites individuals with the shared vision of having a nation free from all forms of human trafficking through legislative reforms, prevention and protection strategies

New Delhi, November 19, 2019: With the intent to bring an end to all forms of human trafficking, over 2500 survivors from all forms of human trafficking, have come together to form the Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT). These survivors have fought different forms of trafficking – forced and bonded labor, sex trafficking, begging, being child brides, domestic servitude, to working in brick kilns and bangle factories - at the grassroots and have joined forces to develop a coordinated strategy for bringing significant changes at the national level through policy change, education and empowerment.

The survivors who hail from different collectives - Utthan (West Bengal), Bandhan Mukti (West Bengal),Vimukthi (West Bengal), Bijoyini (West Bengal), Champions Group is the collective facilitated by IJM (West Bengal), Odisha Migrant Labour Association (OMBLA) (Odisha), Jan Jagran Mazdoor Adhikaaar Manch (Chhattisgarh), Azad Shakti Abhiyan (Uttar Pradesh), Erode District Women Federation (Tamil Nadu), VIJETA (Bihar) and Bihaan Samuha (Jharkhand) - have a common mission to combat human trafficking and improve access to justice for those who have been trafficked.

ILAFT Leader

ILAFT Leader 1 said,

“We are rebuilding our life and want to be considered key stakeholders in the decision-making process. For long, decisions have been made without consulting us or understanding our life experiences. We wish to play a participatory role in policy formulation, since these laws and policies are about us and they cannot be without us - our voices and participation.”

With growing representation in eight states it is now bringing together survivors, subject matter experts, policy makers and civil society organisations to articulate the needs, concerns and interests of its members, empowering them by creating a conducive policy and legislative ecosystem which fosters dialogue, identifies key challenges and evidence gaps, allowing for solution driven advocacy efforts, policy and program planning.

During the initial consultative meetings between the survivors from different parts of India, four key clear areas, which required immediate advocacy efforts, were identified

  • Victim Compensation: Victim compensation for trafficked survivors should not be conditional upon rescue. Lack of awareness, and a cumbersome process fraught with legal hurdles have contributed to the glaring gap between the number of people trafficked and the number of those who have received compensation.
  • Mental Health Aid: There is an urgent need for better counselling from dedicated individuals who are there to ensure the wellness of the survivors and treat them with dignity and care. The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill which could not be made a law during the last Government and should be brought in again, must lay greater emphasis on the mental health of the survivors in their rehabilitation period.
  • Punishment to the Perpetrator: Trafficking should be a non-bailable offence and perpetrators must be sentenced to a minimum of life sentence. With better conviction rates and harsher punishments, there is bound to be deterrence.
  • Breaking the Stigma: Women survivors face more stigma than the male survivors. The new anti-trafficking Bill therefore must lay down provisions to ensure the re-integration of survivors in the community though ensuring opportunities for social, personal and economic development.There are a few such existing models of community-based rehabilitation in Nepal, Bangladesh and India

ILAFT Leader 2 said,

“The process of getting the victim compensation is in itself a punishment. The elaborate paperwork needed for the compensation adds to survivors’ humiliation and trauma and they are often made to recount their experiences multiple times. Victims of human trafficking, who usually have little or no knowledge of the legal system, struggle to navigate the complex and often bureaucratic government processes necessary to receive the compensation to which they are entitled. When trafficking happens inter-state, coordination between different state authorities becomes another problem. Since compensation is given only through bank account, the process of opening bank account needs to be hassle-free as well. ILFAT demands that the government and all stakeholders work together to define and construct a robust victim-centric system for compensation. We also believe that the government make provisions for the survivors getting government jobs.”

ILAFT Leader 3 said,

“Almost all of us have faced discrimination, stigma and plain refusal of services from duty-bearers who are responsible for providing us with services for justice and rehabilitation. The bill needs to have guidelines and policies in place across administrative levels that can help us hold duty- bearers accountable, while a maintaining our safety. It is a common occurrence that the police, especially in case of adults, would just file a missing complaint to help them brush the matter aside after a while. To ensure a strong case the police must use all the provisions of the Indian Penal Code namely 370,372,373 to ensure that the trafficker and also the buyer get indicted.”

According to the National Crime Record Bureau, three in five persons trafficked in 2016 were children (below 18 years). Of these, 4,911 (54%) were girls and 4,123 (46%) were boys. Sexual exploitation for prostitution (22%) was the second major purpose for human trafficking in 2016 in India, after forced labor (45%). Major gaps exist with respect to the legal framework. Not all cases of human trafficking are reported, either because the parents themselves are involved or because the victim does not know how to seek aid. Often cases are booked as kidnapping or missing person cases even though there is clear evidence of trafficking. Insufficient data hinders the work of organizations working in this space. Lack of data makes it difficult to detect and target high-prevalence areas, making it difficult to focus prevention and law enforcement efforts effectively.

To join ILFAT and advocate for implementation of strong anti-trafficking laws, you can visit www.ilfat.org or write to info@ilfat.org.

For interviews or queries, contact:

Saroj Kumar: +91 - 9910452820

Preeti Sehrawat: +91 - 9711170599

Natasha Srivastava: +91 - 9620548260