Anti-trafficking efforts tend to be spearheaded by law enforcement agencies at different levels like national, state, and local levels. These agencies often have macro approaches to eradicating human trafficking. Trafficking survivors, however, are also critical to anti-trafficking efforts at all levels given their experiences as trafficking victims. Therefore platforms like ILFAT have immense importance and scope as advocates for the treatment of trafficking victims, preparation for leadership, and opportunities for trafficking survivors to be leaders. Utthan has long been struggling to voice this.
November 2019 has turned out to be a significant month for Utthan and 10 other survivors’ collectives from across India fighting against human trafficking. Together they successfully launched the Indian Leadership Forum against Trafficking (ILFAT) in New Delhi in the presence of policy makers, lawyers, ministers and media. 11 survivor collectives with survivors of trafficking for sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, forced marriage, organ removal, child labour, child labour, domestic servitude from 8 states (West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa) have joined hands to demand their rights to victim compensation, adequate mental health services, criminal justice for perpetrators, community based rehabilitation, livelihood training and social reintegration free of stigma.
Trafficking is a highly organised crime and a most lucrative criminal trade, right next to arms and drug smuggling. However, efforts and political will in India fails to have a single retributive and preventive law against the same. To overcome this gap, Utthan played a major role in the drafting of The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 which was passed by the lower house of the Parliament. However, sadly, it never made to the upper house and was subsequently dropped. This failure and the experience of drafting the bill taught in these past three years, the most crucial lesson that of resilience. This struggle beared fruit when in November 2019 at the ILFAT launch event, representatives of 10 collectives of survivors of trafficking from all over India along with Utthan have proposed the need for a new anti-human trafficking legislation.The success of joining hands and the strength of the collectives was appreciated when Mr. Rajiv Kumar, the vice-chairman of NITI AAYOG stated that ILFAT would be called for a consultation on the draft bill for the new law on Anti human Trafficking. ILFAT is working on planning strategy for their future and the member are meeting regularly to develop their mission and activities. In times to come we are looking forward to a strong force that is going to change the scenario of Anti Human trafficking initiatives in India.