Polo Stories

Two Trains

Northeast India’s porous borders with neighboring countries such as China and Bangladesh are often inadequately secured and thus serve as an easy source, transit, and destination point for human traffickers to operate undetected. As the region quickly became a hot spot for human trafficking, I grew committed to toppling the $32 billion human trafficking industry in India and its surrounding countries.

Traffickers often take advantage of children with poor job opportunities by luring them with promises of well-paid jobs in other states or countries. There is specifically an acute demand for young children for coal mining in India’s northeastern state Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills that engages child labor from Nepal and Bangladesh for low wages. Approximately 70,000 children, sometimes as young as five years old, from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Meghalaya’s villages are engaged in this dangerous enterprise.

“The issue surrounding trafficking in North India is society’s negligence to acknowledge it. Once we accept it, we’ll be able to resolve it”

Traffickers coerce young girls into either the commercial sex trade or domestic work operating under the guise of employment recruiting agencies. While young women are often trafficked for offshore markets, there is a huge demand in the domestic flesh trade business too. Girls are frequently brought from different states and prostituted in brothels. There is also a large demand for brides in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, which all have a poor sex ratio. Unfortunately, the local population in source and destination points doesn’t recognize the problem or fails to bring attention to it.

Solutions for a Denied Problem

This is why I started Impulse NGO Network (INGON) and introduced the Impulse Model. When I began my journey as a human rights defender two decades ago, I had no idea that I would be dealing with one of the most plaguing and heinous crimes of the world operating behind the veil of unemployment and economic insufficiency – a crime people deny is happening in the first place.

“How can we solve a problem if people don’t even admit that there is one?”

The Ultimate Approach to Combat Human Trafficking: The Impulse Model

Due to the lack of coordination amongst trafficking prevention in India, my team and I developed a model that includes all possible stakeholders in prevention and response, known as the Impulse Model.

The Impulse Model runs on the link of 6 Ps – Partnership, Prevention, Protection, Policing, Press and Prosecution, and 6 Rs – Reporting, Rescue, Rehabilitation, Repatriation, Reintegration, and Recompensation. The model’s advantage is that all stakeholders across southeast Asia can share their best practices and collaborate to reach comprehensive agreements on trafficking prevention and response. The model functions alongside the Impulse Case Management Centre (ICMC) and the Impulse Model Press Lab.

ICMC records, compiles, and keeps track of all relevant information on human trafficking cases. It provides a legal support network, vocational training, counseling, and medical care to survivors. It also helps in the repatriation of survivors back to their family homes or alternative long-term shelters.

The lab issues press releases and reports facts, statistics, quotes, and comments, consistent with the data received through our research and action to ensure accurate information is being conveyed to the public regarding the problem of human trafficking in India.

Remarkable Impact So Far

This model has helped save over 72, 442 people and has empowered over 30,000 artisans. It continues to support the prevention of trafficking by working toward providing a global market to domestic weavers in the villages of northeast India so that they can yield a steady income, and become less vulnerable to trafficking.

Moreover, INGON has managed to rescue about 1,200 children from the coal mines. INGON also filed a Public Interest Litigation in the National Green Tribunal, banning rat-hole mining in Meghalaya, which passed on April 17, 2014 – an effort for which I received the CNN-IBN India Positive Award.

After being adopted by neighboring countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Nepal and by all northeast Indian states, the Impulse model is now under review for national application across India.

Miguel A. San Joaquin: Founder of POLO Stories, and author of the Inspiring Mile & Reflections on Love