Trafficking in persons, particularly in women and children for various purposes such as commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), forced labour, forced marriages, domestic servitude, adoption, begging, public sport etc. is an organized crime that gravely violates basic human rights. Increasing reports of such a criminal activity taking place are a matter of deep concern to the Government, particularly as law enforcement response to the crime has not been very effective. As per the NHRC’s Action Research Study Report on ‘Trafficking in Women and Children in India’ published in 2004, there is a very low level of awareness about the crime of trafficking amongst police personnel and also a very low priority is accorded to the crime due to the preoccupation of police with crimes such as murder, rape, arson as well as general law and order matters.A project on “Strengthening the law enforcement response in India against trafficking in persons through training and capacity building” has been taken up in the Ministry of Home Affairs as a joint initiative of the Government of India and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Over a three-year period w.e.f April 2006, through a series of training programmes, the project aimed at raising the awareness of law enforcement officers, (i.e., police and prosecutors) on the problem of human trafficking and build their capacity to better investigate and prosecute offenders perpetrating this crime. The five states selected for the training are Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar and represent source, destination and transit areas for human trafficking of differing types (e.g., trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation, child labour, bonded labour, etc.).The project has had very positive outcomes in most of the States and the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) model has been particularly effective. The project has contributed towards developing of 12 very important resource books about Protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and in setting up of Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) under the police department of the project States.
The project has had very positive outcomes in some of the States especially in raising awareness. So far, 396 training programmes have been conducted and more than 13,670 persons (Police and prosecutors) have been trained. Besides, 9 Anti Human Trafficking Units involving government officials and NGOs have been set up in the states of Goa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar and they are all functional. In addition, the Governments of Tamil Nadu and Bihar on their own have set up 38 and 21 AHTUs, respectively.