March 19, 2013
International Justice Mission Wins 'Landmark' Sex Trafficking Conviction in India
(UPDATED) Following sex trafficking victory, IJM frees nearly 300 workers from brick-factory slavery.
Update (June 12): International Justice Mission (IJM) reports that it has freed 273 people from slavery at brick factories in India. The rescue mission was the organization's "second-largest anti-slavery operation ever."
"The men and women told the rescue team how they weren’t allowed to leave the factory, and they were paid pennies at the end of the week, barely enough to pay for the food they needed to simply survive," IJM says. Some children—including those as young as three years old—also were forced to work in the factories.
As India draws fresh international attention over the recent gang rape of a Swiss tourist, International Justice Mission (IJM) is proclaiming a "landmark" legal victory against sex trafficking in Kolkata.
A court in Kolkata has sentenced five men to 10 years in prison in two separate cases for human trafficking and rape, the Times of India reports.
One of men convicted of rape is Nakul Bera, a "notoroious trafficker" and brothel owner who tortured girls if they refused to see customers. The ruling against Bera is "the first time this particular court gave a conviction for both trafficking and rape in the same case," noted IJM in a press release. It continued:
"We hope these cases can be positive examples for my country, as the police and court officials involved demonstrated competent knowledge of the law, sensitivity to trafficking survivors, and extreme dedication to justice," said IJM attorney Saptarshi Biswas, who provided legal counsel to the trafficking survivors in these cases. "Today, we proved that India's justice system not only can work, it does work."
The good news comes as the Associated Press reports that "five men have been arrested and have confessed to raping a Swiss woman who was attacked in central India while on a cycling vacation with her husband."
However, the British Broadcasting Corporation reports that no suspects have confessed, only that they are being held in custody. Five of the suspects appeared in court this morning while protesters outside called for government officials to resign.