In general, when it comes to human trafficking, it is easy to despair. The numbers are enormous. The cases locally seem to never end. One has to take a step back to see what success can look like on the ground. Ultimately, as my friend Sam McCahon notes, success isn’t people rescued, it is people never being trafficked in the first place. Eventually it will be harder and harder to find cases, but that’s not where we are today.
So how do you know what success looks like in the short to medium term? It looks like the system working. One of my colleagues wrote a piece for Pragati Magazine, associated with the Takshashila Institution. It provides a glimpse of what medium term success looks like in a destination of trafficked labour. The legal system works. Cases are found and the legal system responds appropriately. It is really exciting to step back and realize that we are part of a system like that is working
In the last one year, Karnataka has established itself as a leader in addressing human trafficking, especially labour trafficking. It has done this by effectively implementing a statewide policing structure, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), under the newly amended section of Indian Penal Code (IPC), s. 370 – Trafficking of Persons. The Karnataka government has demonstrated in a series of recent cases that it is making significant progress in fighting human trafficking.
Not only that, but the conclusion is quite powerful. Not only can what is happening here be a model for the whole country, but it can provide hope that violent crime, especially against the poor and marginalized, can indeed be stopped, or at least reduced sharply
Together these demonstrate that a well-trained police force that is empowered by strong laws that are enforced by the judiciary, can begin to bring protection to society, especially to sections of the society that are often the victims of trafficking. There are several significant consequences of this. Karnataka’s work can be used as a model in other states in cases of trafficking. By ensuring that the AHTU and the police are well trained on the new IPC s.370, the police in other states can start to demonstrate the same effectiveness that they have here, if there is the political will. Additionally, Karnataka case law will provide guidance to the judiciaries in those states. These successes should serve as a message that with proper training and political will, we can have successful policing that protects all sections of society against other crimes. Trafficking offences are not much different than many other crimes that face our society. These successes should tell the police force that they can succeed and also tell the public that it is correct to invest trust in a well-trained police force.