The Union home ministry has told all states not to prosecute any foreign prostitute caught in a raid in the country but repatriate her to her country unless there is concrete proof that she is a trafficker.The development comes after many girls from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and even European countries were arrested in high-profile raids in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore lately.
They were all involved in flesh trade. These girls travelled to India on tourist visas.In a memo sent to all states on May 1, the home ministry has directed that foreign nationals apprehended on charges of human trafficking should be treated in line with the SAARC convention.
The memo says the decision has the ‘competent authority’s’ approval – who can
either be the home secretary or the home minister. Presently, foreign prostitutes are booked for both immoral trafficking and under the Foreigners Act. According to the memo signed by joint secretary (foreigners) GVV Verma, foreign prostitutes should neither be booked for immoral trafficking nor under the Foreigners Act if their interrogation shows they are victims of trafficking and not traffickers.
Even if the women don’t have a valid passport or visa but the probe shows they are victims, they should be repatriated to the country of their origin, the memo says. The memo comes into effect retrospectively as the ministry wants states to drop all the cases where a chargesheet has already been filed against foreign escorts under the Foreigners Act or other laws.
Rishi Kant, from NGO Shakti Vahini, welcomed the move. Foreign nationals come here on tourist visas as part of dancing troupes and get into flesh trade. It’s an international racket. ‘It’s important that instead of targeting just the victims, the actual traffickers are arrested,’ he said.