Protest
Using #RedraftTraffickingBill2018, the activists demanded that the government re-draft the Bill after consulting stakeholders including trans persons and sex workers.
Twitter/Rachana Mudraboyina

On Wednesday, several trans persons and activists took to Twitter with the hashtag #RedraftTraffickingBill2018. The outrage in the community was apparent as they demanded that the Centre re-draft the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill after consulting the actual stakeholders, including them.

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, has faced objections on several fronts, despite which it was passed in Lok Sabha in earlier this year in July.

Also read: 'Equal to killing us': Why India's transgender community is rejecting the Trans Bill

Transgender activists as well as several others have been arguing that the anti-trafficking bill was drafted without their consultation of the major stakeholders - sex workers and trans persons. One of the major issues they have with the law is that is criminalises organised begging, which is a major source of livelihood for many in the trans community, with 10 years of imprisonment.

Sex workers meanwhile, have pointed out that the anti-trafficking law doesn't distinguish between human trafficking and consensual sex work, criminalising both.

Another major setback for the trans community is that the Bill criminalises administration of hormones for early sexual maturity as an aggravated form of trafficking, making it punishable with 10 years to life imprisonment, and fine of  at least Rs 1 lakh. By doing so, it does not distinguish between coercion and the hormone replacement therapy often taken by the trans persons for gender affirmation.

Speaking to TNM, activist Rachana Mudraboyina, said, "Both anti-trafficking Bill and Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill are against our rights. Through the anti-trafficking bill, they will deprive us of employment opportunities - for instance, hijras who rely on sex work for a living, and are the most vulnerable group. They (Centre) didn't even consult us before drafting and passing such a bill."

Rachana added that the government should re-draft the Bill after consulting with the persons who would be affected by it, including sex workers and trans persons. Expressing angst against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill which was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, she pointed out that while it criminalises sex work, it does not make provisions for reservations for trans persons in other employment avenues.

Another gender transmasculine activist, Bittu Karthik, member of Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti, said, “The (Transgender Persons) Bill criminalises traditional begging without offering horizontal reservations or any opportunities in education and employment. It also violates our constitutional rights of freedom of movement and association; as well as the 2014 NALSA judgment which encodes self-identification. The Bill also prescribing lower punishments for sexual violence upon transgender people as compared to cisgender women”.