[Part one in a three part series that will be published each Wednesday for the next three weeks.]

If you have ever been the victim of a crime, you understand the importance of getting justice. Or, if you have ever been caught violating a law for any serious offense, you know the real fear of facing a judge in court. There is of course the shame, but there is also the threat of losing your liberty to incarceration. The desire of the victims and the fear of the perpetrator form the foundation of the rule of law in our society.

Studies have shown that crime reduces when laws are enforced. But this is not because everyone who would commit a crime is behind bars, but because the society as a whole has received the message that their actions will have consequences. The knowledge that they might be punished creates a deterrent in their minds.

Mumbai and Pune are two large cities in India just 3 hours apart. But their roads, though both busy, operate differently. In Mumbai, there is more respect for traffic rules. One such example is the helmet law. It is a law to wear a helmet while driving a 2 wheel vehicle in both cities, but the prevalence of obeying this law is much greater in Mumbai. This is not because Mumbai citizens are better people, but because Mumbai police have been more consistent in their enforcement of that particular law. The same principal separates cities when measuring the prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation of minor girls.

Freedom Firm’s investigators confirm this when they enter a new city. They walk past police men on patrol and beside police chowkys (small offices) in the middle or near the red light area. They walk down the road in a red light area and are able to find minor girls calling customers. The brothel keeper allows those minor girls to stand in open view because she doesn’t believe there will be any consequences.

Let me stop there because the truth is police on some level do rescue girls, including minors. They always have. A study of Nagpur’s red light area reveals newspaper articles talking about special police teams one year and strict patrolling another year combined with stories of girls rescued. Yet, there remains a presence of minor girls in the red light area. Arrest alone is not sufficient to eliminate sex-trafficking. The cost must be higher, imprisonment is necessary.image