“Continuing our protests against the two bills, we are observing the 'National Day of Rage' on December 28, 2018 all over India,” the Coalition of Sex Workers And Sexual Minorities’ Rights, Karnataka, stated.

Sex workers sexual minorities group to protest trans anti-trafficking bills in BluruImage for representation/PTI
news Protest Wednesday, December 26, 2018 - 19:11

Reiterating its protest and joining the growing din against the problematic Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018, and the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, the Coalition of Sex Workers And Sexual Minorities’ Rights, Karnataka has issued a statement. They demanded that the Bills, which were passed in the Lok Sabha earlier this year, should not be introduced in the Rajya Sabha and should be referred to a Select Committee in the Upper House.

Registering their opposition, the Coalition expressed “grave concerns” regarding the “regressive” Bills. “Continuing our protests against the two bills, we are observing the “National Day of Rage” on December 28, 2018 all over India,” the Coalition stated.

This will happen simultaneously with a protest being carried out by trans, intersex and gender nonconforming community, as well as supporters of women’s and Dalits’ movements at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Friday, 11.30 am onwards. There will be a corresponding protest in Bengaluru as well. “The protest in Karnataka will take place on Town Hall steps, Bangalore on 28th December 2018 at 10 AM,” the statement said. 

Following are the issues that have been highlighted by the Coalition against both the Bills.

Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill

1. Bill was passed in Lok Sabha without ANY community consultation and does not address concerns or demands of the community and is an abusive legislative process.

2. Bill is a retrograde step from previous iterations of transgender persons’ rights such as reservation, employment and education opportunities, right to self-determination of gender as iterated in the NALSA judgment, MSJE report, the Tiruchi Siva Bill, and the Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendations.

3. Bill does not address accountability measures, within the state and its functionaries, police violence, violence from natal families, etc. 

4. Bill is inadequate for the protection of transgender persons as it upholds the criminalisation of transgender persons for traditional sources of income such as begging, while denying any opportunities in education, employment, healthcare, etc. or recognising rights to marriage, adoption, property, etc.

5. Bill upholds lighter consequences and penalties for discrimination and assault on trans people compared to cisgender people.

6. Bill violates the fundamental rights of transgender persons to live where we please, stating that even as adults with the right to free movement and association, we must either stay with our parents or approach a court.

Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill

1. Bill is unclear with respect to existing laws which already penalise trafficking and exploitation of trafficked victims for sexual exploitation, bonded labour, contract labour and inter-state migrant work.

2. Bill goes against fundamental principles of criminal justice and the Indian Constitution by creating new offences unrelated to trafficking, use of unclear sentencing policy, vesting excessive powers in the police, etc.

3. Bill ignores and furthers the failures of existing ‘protection’ homes, fails to hold magistrates accountable, and explicitly bars victims of trafficking from accessing the legal remedies that every citizen of India is entitled to, in the name of ‘protection’.

4. Bill lacks consultation with trade unions, labour groups, sex workers, and transgender communities, specifically with respect to impact on informal labour, including begging, sex work, and domestic work, thereby categorically targeting marginalised communities.

5. Bill does not hold accountable state actors and employers, but instead declares one’s choice and form of labour and sustenance as trafficking and prescribes excessive punishment for the marginalised communities engaging in these forms of labour.  

6. Bill criminalises the administration of hormones and other medicines, failing to distinguish between coercion and assistance in accessing gender-affirming hormone therapy.

7. Bill does not distinguish between voluntary sex work and trafficking.

8. Bill is against international legal norms which focus on human rights and a victim-centred approach. 

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