Survivor speaks out against trafficker and sees him jailed

Videoed naked by a boy who had drugged her, teenager Esha* was then blackmailed and sold into the sex trade.

The 14-year-old met her trafficker at a picnic. He had come along with her best friend’s boyfriend. Esha recalls drinking soda that the boys had supplied and having a lot of fun. That was until she felt dizzy and the rest of the evening she cannot remember.

The following day she received a phone call from the boy. He pressured her into meeting him that evening by promising her something special. But when she met up with him she was horrified to see a video of herself, naked, on his phone. He threatened to send the video to everyone in her school if she did not do what he said.

Deeply upset, Esha returned home and stayed off school for a week. When she returned she discovered the other students had seen the video.  Ashamed, Esha promised the boy she would do anything he asked if he would delete the video. He told her to meet him and she left home without telling her family. He then took her to another city before selling her for the equivalent of £350.

Each day she was forced to have sex with many men, in a city where she could not speak the language. She was beaten by the brothel manager as well the customers. At night, she was locked in a room where she would contemplate taking her life.

Several months later, Esha was rescued in a joint operation by the police and Justice and Care. Taken back to her home city and given a place to live and support by social workers, Esha began to heal and rebuild her life. She has reconnected with her family and continued her education. She aspires to become a police officer and to support her family.

A year after she was rescued, Esha testified against her trafficker in court. He was sentenced to many years in prison.

A new start for our survivors

 We were delighted when nine girls graduated from one of our training units earlier this month, as part of the effort to give survivors a new start. In our programme, we help those we’ve rescued to develop new skills, move into work and become financially independent. The girls enrolled in the programme receive a weekly stipend, as well as free transport and meals. We were so proud to celebrate this moment with their families and guardians.

At Justice and Care, we know that helping survivors cannot simply be about meeting basic needs - true rehabilitation must mean transformation, empowerment and building personal resilience. So, as well as new skills and training, our programmes work to reduce the vulnerability of girls being re-trafficked and help them become powerful role models in their communities. We wish each of them the very best as they begin the next phase of their journey in freedom - they each prove that transformation is possible.

Traced across the country and rescued in 72 hours

The police and Justice and Care successfully rescued 13-year-old Kajal*. Kajal went missing from a remote village in East India in what turned out to be a shocking case of bride trafficking.

When she was on her way to school one morning, Kajal was abducted and taken thousands of miles from home. A few days after she went missing, Kajal managed to get hold of a phone and spoke to her father, sharing information about her location and captors. A First Information Report was filed the same day and the local police began investigating.

After her abduction, Kajal was forcefully “married” to one of the alleged accused who sexually abused her. She was then sold to a brother of this accused, who got “married” to her and abused her too. Within 72 hours of receiving information about the missing child, the Justice and Care team assisted the police in not only rescuing Kajal but also arresting all the accused, saving her from further harm and exploitation.

Important study on trafficking and safety conducted along with BSF along Indo-Bangladesh border

Justice and Care in partnership with the Border Security Force conducted a study to understand the nuances of trafficking hidden within illegal migration, assist the BSF in detection, and provide casework support for victims of trafficking intercepted at the border.

The pilot initiative introduced new strategies to tackle trafficking and adopt victim-centric approaches to interception so that the crime is detected correctly at transit points and victims repatriated sensitively. This was experimented along a part of the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Through the study of eight villages around two check posts at the Indo-Bangladesh border in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, the research provides a glimpse into the issues faced by border communities and its relation to trafficking.

Supporting us in the endeavour, 15 dedicated community volunteers belonging to villages near the border conducted field studies on site for the study. In a shocking indicator of the high levels of vulnerability, one of these volunteers was trafficked during the course of the study. She is one among a handful of young girls who escaped from her captors and got home safe. Together with the other volunteers, she has become a champion on the ground to spread awareness on human trafficking.

The partnership is playing a significant role in the facilitation of highly successful and comprehensive interventions and helping understand the critical nuances of human trafficking along the border.

30 forced into prostitution. Now rescued!

In March 2017, after careful intelligence gathering and groundwork, Justice and Care helped the police rescue 30 young women and children from multiple brothels in a town in South India. Located close to an arterial road, criminal networks had established a presence to traffic young girls from across the state to this town. The girls - some as young as 13-years-old - were forced into the trade by initially luring them from distant villages with the promise of jobs. During the intervention, the team arrested 35 alleged traffickers, including 21 women who are now behind bars.

Once recruited from their homes and villages, the girls found themselves in situations with severely curtailed freedoms, suffering extreme physical and mental abuse, including imprisonment and physical brutality.

When attending to the girls, the aftercare team found that many of them suffered from poor health and a few from HIV but were still forced to have sex with 10 - 12 men every single day. A few even shared accounts of being beaten and traumatised by their keepers on a regular basis.

With the alleged traffickers and brothel owners now in jail, our lawyers are working to ensure they are held to account for the abuse inflicted on those in their custody.

The girls are now safe in shelter homes and our counsellors regularly visit to help process their terrifying ordeal. In the years to come, we will do everything we can - from counselling and medical attention to proper home investigations and repatriations - to see each rescued girl live a happy and fulfilling life.

Honoured for our path breaking work

Led by the Chief Minister, the Karnataka Government honoured Justice and Care with the Ballari police and the special public prosecutor on International Women’s Day for the role we played in securing a conviction against 39 people who were trafficking women and children for sex in Ballari. Here’s what some of our stakeholders had to say about the experience:

S Rudramani who was Deputy Superintendent of Police (Dy.SP) for Ballari at the time of the rescue (currently posted as DCP Crime, Mysore) said “Cooperation and team work at every step contributed to the success of this case in the court of law. Each stakeholder worked hard to ensure the perpetrators are punished for their crime. I appreciate the work of Non-Governmental Organisation Justice and Care and the prosecutor involved in working on the case. Protecting our women from being trafficked is a priority for us in the Police force.”

“This landmark verdict represents a huge step forward in the fight against human trafficking in India. I thank the Government of Karnataka and the Department of Women and Child Development for this honour and congratulate every stakeholder involved in ensuring the survivors get justice. I dedicate the appreciation we have received to every woman and child rescued in 2013 by our brave police in Ballari”, said Rathod Ramsingh, Special Public Prosecutor (PP).


Climate Change and the Impact on Children

The Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF), in collaboration with Justice and Care, hosted a round table discussion on ‘Climate Change and the Impact on Children’ on May 11, 2017 in New Delhi. 

The event was chaired by Monique Villa, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), TRF and moderated by Adrian Phillips, Director of Legal at Justice and Care. Attended by journalists, government officials and development practitioners, the event served as a key platform to highlight the human impact of climate change on vulnerable communities, and to identify gaps in the sector that organisations working on these issues should address.

Some of the key action items that emerged from the event

  • Improved monitoring of government schemes and the incorporation of monitoring plans within disaster reduction schemes
  • Mandatory social audits for schemes related to disaster risk reduction particularly the ones targeted towards women and children
  • Adopting a rights-based approach for schemes targeting women and children
  • Comparative research on issues related to climate change,particularly on protocols such as the declaration of drought.