Newswise — In India, every hour, more than a dozen children and women go missing, and most never return home. They end up exploited as slaves by a borderless and highly organized crime industry, worth billions of dollars. One estimate claims 15 percent (around 350,000) of India’s 2.3 million sex workers are children that are trafficked.
“Confronting a criminal network and protecting women and children at this massive scale is too much for one organization. The only way to confront such organized and well-funded criminal networks is an organized and well-funded counter-force existing across national, regional, cultural and ethnic boundaries,’’ says Rodney Green, program manager of the Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research at Messiah College.
In the July 2014 issue of Slavery Today Journal, Green points out in his research article that because trafficking is an organized crime; it requires an equally organized counter-force to fight it.
However, organizing a counter-force network to fight trafficking is difficult. In India, organizations have historically struggled to work together.
After interviewing 11 anti-trafficking organizations based in India and abroad, Green concluded that the challenges to building a strong counter-force include: a complex and limited institutional and political landscape, a lack of funding and vision dedicated to fostering cooperative and coordinated inter-organizational relationships, and a lack of expertise in the areas of psychology, counseling, evaluation, economic development, and fundraising.
To overcome these challenges, Green recommends that “the keys to building strong cooperation are funding and capacity building.”
Rural organizations based where women and children are being trafficked from, and urban organizations based where women and children are being trafficked to, can be brought together as a cohesive unit to better prevent trafficking, rescue victims, re-integrate and empower survivors, advocate for systems change, and prosecute traffickers with dedicated funding. This allows for a shared identity and clear organization into cooperative/coordinated inter-organizational relationships based on trust, mutual benefit, and a common purpose. With capacity building, each organization can improve and build complementary strengths for the benefit of the whole.
“The Google funded consortium led by the International Justice Mission is an example of a step in this direction,” says Green.
“For diverse actors to confront these criminal networks, they must voluntarily cooperate to prevent unhealthy competition and duplication,’’ says Green. “Cooperation must be based on trust.’’
Even though cooperation is difficult, it is the key to stopping the sex trade in India.
“With dedicated funding and capacity building,” Green concludes, “cooperation is possible.”