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Police Response to Trafficking in Women and Children-Do’s and Don’t

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_65159634_pstraffickedgirlblur(Source: P.M. Nair, 2007. Trafficking Women and Children for Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Handbook for Law Enforcement Agencies in India, UNODC)

Keep the survivors segregated from the accused and suspects, so that the accused/suspects do not intimidate or violate the survivors’ rights.

Rights of rescued persons are to be ensured during rescue and post rescue situations.

This includes the following:

  1. Facilitate the rescued person to carry along with her all her possessions like clothes, money, jewellery, etc.
  2. If the rescued person has children, they should be allowed to accompany her. Extra care should be taken to see that the children are not left behind in the brothel.
  3. One should be careful in the use of language/gestures/demeanours. They should not be abusive or intimidating and should in no way violate her rights.
  4. Avoid publicity of the survivors so that anonymity is maintained.
  5. Carry out a brief interview of the survivors at the place of rescue to know their age (so that the applicability of Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act could be decided) and to locate their assets and possessions (which could be carried along with them before leaving the place). One or two officials should be earmarked exclusively for this purpose.
  6. Ensure proper handing over of survivor’s possessions to her at the appropriate place and time (i.e., the survivor’s clothes, etc should be delivered to her immediately after recovery).
  7. Provide counsellors for trauma counselling. Keep a list of NGOs and trained counsellors who are willing to work in this field.
  8. Legal counselling should be provided to the survivor. Keep a list of lawyers willing to work for the survivors.
  9. Immediate medical relief should be provided. Medical relief should include mental health as well. As per s.15 (5A) ITPA, the Magistrate has to order medical examination for Age determination.
  10. Children who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation are to be dealt under Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act. Therefore, while rescue is going on, please do segregate the children from the adult survivors and proceed with them under JJ Act, as they are children in need of care and attention.
  11. The police officers need to know beforehand as to where the Rescue Home is available. If there is a need for such Homes, it should be taken up with the concerned authorities. Of late many NGO’s have set up such Homes. Keep a list of their address, telephone, contact person, etc.
  12. As and when the rescue is done, please notify the authorities of the concerned Home regarding the number of persons going to be lodged so that they could be prepared to receive them and organize themselves.
  13. Rescue Party should have adequate number of vehicles so that the rescued persons could be transported without publicity and glare.
  14. Search and seizure of all material evidence, including documents in the brothel, or any other scene of crime, is an important job. This should be done at the first available opportunity so that evidence is not destroyed or made to disappear by anybody, especially the exploiters.
  15. Ensure accountability of all the officials taking part in the rescue. Brief them well in advance on all the points mentioned above and ensure compliance. Accountability demands appreciation of good work as well as condemnation of all wrong-doings, including acts of omission and commission. Utilize the services of reputed NGOs, as independent agency, to understand and assess how things are and were during the search so that appropriate steps could be taken accordingly.

Post Rescue: Do’s and don’t

  1. Interview the rescued persons to know about their personal details like age, native place, health status, family history, etc and also to identify their best interests so that actions can be oriented accordingly. Interview is essential in the investigative process to identify the traffickers and other exploiters so that they can be brought to book. NGOs and trained counsellors are useful in de- traumatizing the person and helping in ice breaking so that the police officials can carry on with the interview. Interview must be carried out by a female police officer or in the presence of a female NGO worker as mandated u/s 15(6A) ITPA.
  2. Do not delay production of the rescued persons (survivors) before the Magistrate (s.17 ITPA).
  3. SPO can produce the rescued person before any Magistrate (s.17 ITPA). Intermediate custody can be obtained for a period not exceeding 10 days by which time the person has to be produced before the appropriate Magistrate (s.17 ITPA)
  4. Rescued child victims should be produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) constituted under the JJ Act.
  5. During the stage in which their age is being verified, the person can be kept in a recognized rehabilitation institution after obtaining orders from the Magistrate concerned. Home verification is to be done by the Probationary Officer, who can utilize services of NGOs.
  6. Suitability of the rehabilitation home should be verified before the person is lodged.
  7. Magistrate may utilize the services of five NGOs (including 3 female NGO workers) for home verification and also consult with them in the process of decision making u/s 17(5) ITPA.
  8. For trauma counselling of survivors, networking with NGOs is ideal. A list of such volunteers/ NGOs should be maintained at the police station. The Family Counselling Centres (FCC) available at designated police stations in most states also has trained counsellors whose services can be utilized. For legal counselling, networking with lawyers/NGOs is advisable. A list of willing lawyers should be maintained at the police station. Contact Bar Council for the same.
  9. Medical care and attention (including mental health) should be provided immediately after rescue. Also make arrangements for expert care, if required.

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