India is a global hotspot for trafficking of women and minors for commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), and Maharashtra, as its financial and commercial capital, is one of the largest destinations for CSE in the country¹. While obtaining reliable estimates of the number of minor sex trafficking victims has historically been challenging owing to the hidden nature of this population, a 2020 study funded by GFEMS found that child victims comprised approximately 27% of the commercial sex industry in Maharashtra.
There is significant government will to combat sex trafficking in the state. However, the majority of key criminal justice actors lack the necessary attitudes, skills, and resources to effectively investigate and prosecute traffickers and protect survivors.
Between 2018 and 2022, GFEMS supported a series of anti-trafficking research and programming efforts focused on tackling commercial sexual exploitation in South Asia. This brief highlights key learnings from GFEMS-funded efforts to build the capacity of judicial and law enforcement stakeholders in Maharashtra to effectively investigate, prosecute, and try trafficking cases, led by implementing partners International Justice Mission (IJM) and Vipla Foundation. Findings from this programming inform recommendations to institutionalize trauma-informed and child-friendly practices among criminal justice actors and to strengthen more coordinated justice delivery mechanisms for trafficking survivors.