The Notion of Child Prostitution with reference to the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

Mayank Vats
The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act does not make prostitution as such a criminal offence or penalize an individual because of the fact that the person is a prostitute himself or herself. The rationale of the enactment is to slow down or stop commercialized sexual abuse and mistreatment and the trafficking of people as a well-thought-out means of livelihood. The target is being tried to be achieved by two major strategies or plans, to be precise, by gruelling those who are responsible for such behaviour and by rehabilitating and rescuing the victims of such abuse. Prostitution under this Act is described as the sexual mistreatment or cruelty of person for business-related purposes and the term ‘prostitute” must be construed consequently. This description is wider and involves sexual misuse and ill-treatment of any individual, be it female, eunuch, or male for a business-related reason. This Act has also brought the idea of child victims as opposed to the concept of minors and majors and imposes advanced extent of criminality to sexual wrongdoers of children. As specified by section 8 of PITA the prostitute is considered as a criminal. Auspiciously, this Act acknowledges that children and even men could be sexually ill-treated for commercial intentions and they must be safeguarded. Section 2 of this Act specifies the meaning of brothel, which largely includes any place utilized for the purpose of concluding sexual wrongs. This broader explanation of brothel would make it much easier to take legal action against the brothel custodian under section 3 of the Act. Now the tenants, landlords and the other kinds of occupants of the place may not run away from the punishment for brothel maintenance under the cover of lack of knowledge. The penalty for existing on the profits of child prostitute has been enlarged and enhances. There is an enhancement in the prison period for the offenders sentenced or imprisoned for involving children in the business of prostitution. Life imprisonment is the greatest sentence fated when it is concluded in opposition to minors or children. Section 9 of the Act provides a larger penalty to people who aid, cause or abet the seduction of women or girls, over whom they have power or who are in their keeping and care, for the purpose of prostitution. This Act enables the Central Government to employ trafficking officers. These special police officers can look for or search any premises without a warrant, where any offence related to child prostitution is assumed to be or being committed and they can even save any individual who is being put on into prostitution or is transported on or is being made to get involved in the business of prostitution. Flexible powers have been granted to the magistrates for the temporary assignment of children and minors who are rescued or saved, in a society documented under the Children’s Act. Provisions for shielding and remedial homes for the safe and sound care of children and special courts for their prompt trial are some of the hopeful and heartening changes that are sought to be put into presence by the new Act. By the use of presumptions, the weight of the trial is bleached by the IPTA 1986. Nevertheless, there are definite presumptions under the Act in for the welfare and well being of the child victims, which are:
  • If the presence of a child is found in a brothel or under doubtful set of circumstances in the charge of the child, except the parent or legal guardian who is not capable to give explanation agreeably with regard to the presence of such a child, that person would be alleged to have obtained the child for the intentions concerning prostitution. A report in a newspaper on the usage of some premises as a brothel is considered to be an adequate testimony of the property-owner, resident or tenant intentionally permitting such usage.
  • If a child is unveiled in the company in a mistrustful situation, of an individual who is neither his/her parent or legal guardian and who is going away from the country, that individual would be deemed to be committing the crime of immoral trafficking.