It might be easy to think of the fight against human trafficking as a linear progression: an investigation leading to a raid, resulting in freedom for survivors, arrests for traffickers, and the closure of brothels. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple.
Even once an arrest is made and a trafficker is placed in jail, that does not guarantee that the legal system will have the evidence necessary to make a conviction. Brothels that are shut down might lie low for a while before clandestinely reopening, resuming the same illegal trafficking operations.
This was the case in Operation Déjà Vu in India.
The Exodus Road’s team in India partnered with law enforcement to gather evidence about trafficking occurring in a brothel. Once police had what they needed, they moved on the location, discovering two women who were being trafficked — one from Bangladesh, the other from a distant city in India.
In the course of the operation, The Exodus Road’s investigators had the sinking feeling of recognition when they saw the brothel. As it turned out, it was a location that they had previously raided in early 2018. Despite that intervention, the brothel had waited for the dust to settle and then began trafficking again.
That wasn’t the only déjà vu moment of this operation. Three traffickers were arrested in total, two women and one man. One of the women had previously been arrested during Operation Intercept. She was the woman who had been preparing to sell Aadea*, a 16-year-old girl who had never been sold, at a premium price. Evading conviction, she was once again exploiting vulnerable women.
All three traffickers were jailed. The two survivors were transferred into government aftercare.
It might be easy to get discouraged when faced with the repetitive nature of this horrific crime. While acknowledging grim reality, this is also an opportunity for anyone who opposes human trafficking to strengthen our resolve. Persistence from The Exodus Road’s team in India resulted in a second interruption of this trafficker’s crimes. This slow but inexorable accumulation of evidence will bolster a court case where the repeat offender could face a sentence of 14 years to life in prison.
This is why a consistent presence of investigators committed to the cause of freedom matters so much.
Intervening for the second time in this brothel’s activity was possible because of your steady support of The Exodus Road’s team in India.
*Name and imagery representative