The government is currently undertaking an exercise to present in parliament the "most stringent law possible" on trafficking of women and children, Union Minister Smriti Irani said on Wednesday. Addressing the third Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit on the Fair Share for Children, she said the government is working diligently towards protection of children.
The Laureates and Leaders for Children is a coalition for ensuring child rights. It is led by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi. "We in the Ministry of Women and Child Development are currently undertaking an exercise to present to parliament the most stringent law possible on trafficking of women and children," Irani said while addressing a session on 'The impact of COVID-19: Economic Exploitation of Children and the Role of Global Supply Chains'.
The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 was passed by Lok Sabha in 2018, but it did not make it to Rajya Sabha. The bill lapsed when the Modi government's first term ended in 2019. Elaborating on other steps taken by the government for ensuring safety and protection of children, the women and child development minister said before the pandemic hit the global community, the Indian parliament passed stringent laws to protect children from sexual assault and brought in instrument for penalising those who indulge in child pornography.
"We have sanctioned anti-trafficking units across each district so that women and children in our country are better protected. In the past six years, we have set up in every district of the country one-stop crisis centres which can be used by women and children, specially those civil society leaders who want to become a link between support mechanisms and the children at large," she said. Addressing the session, Guy Ryder, Director General at International Labour Organisation, said COVID-19 has created damage to the labour market around the world and one of the things it has done is it has led to aggravation of the situation of child labour.
"We made progress in recent years and we reduced it (child labour) by one-third and yet COVID 19 will lead to an increase in number of child labourers in the world and those figures are 152 million, of which, 73 million are in worst form of child labour," Ryder said. Satyarthi, who also participated in the session, said 8 trillion dollars have been announced as the COVID-19 pandemic response fund, but unfortunately the data shows that this money is not going to most marginalised sections.
"The 20 per cent most marginalised must receive 20 per cent of COVID-19 response aid. This is the absolute least that we can do," he said.