Survivor Speaks at Anti-human Trafficking Conference

RANCHI, 28 FEBRUARY 2018: On 27 and 28 February, to support survivors of trafficking and abuse, the Jharkhand State Child Protection Society and Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children (ATSEC) organised a regional conference called, ‘Let Me Speak’ in the city.

Justice and Care’s survivors were invited to share their stories at the event that focused on giving a voice to victims of human trafficking. Brave survivors of trafficking from the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and New Delhi were also given an opportunity to interact and support each other at the event.

The objective of this conference was to help victims of trafficking by building a leadership quality in them and empowering them to politically raise their voice to combat human trafficking. This also provided an opportunity to strengthen networks – both for survivors and for government stakeholders.

One of our survivors, Nisha* was spontaneously invited by the programme coordinator to share her story of trafficking and rehabilitation – just 15 minutes before the event. While most people battle with the fear of stage fright, Nisha brushed away her fear, stood tall and told everyone gathered about what had happened to her.

Two hundred people sat teary-eyed as Nisha spoke about how she was trafficked from a small village in North India to a big city where she was held captive in a place that she wasn’t allowed to leave.  She further described how it felt to be rescued, and especially how it felt to be back with her family after more than a year. Nisha ended her story with a smile as she spoke about how happy she is now to be safe and how glad she is to have the Justice and Care team looking after her.

A post-lunch group session was conducted with topics related to the rehabilitation of survivors were discussed.  As the session progressed, survivors participated and expressed their needs and expectations from their family, the government and their society. They spoke about the social stigma they face, the ignorance with which children are sent to work and then trafficked and the problems that have faced with government authorities.

The evening ended with a special cultural programme by the survivors. It was wonderful to see our girls who used to struggle to overcome their trauma, dancing and singing joyfully.

Vigilant Youth Groups Help Fight Trafficking

At Justice and Care, we want to stop children being trafficked in the first place.  That’s why we run regular awareness sessions for young people in the most vulnerable communities, as part of our Safe Village Programme.  

In these sessions, young people from the participating villages gather together to hear about the risk traffickers pose to their communities and ways in which they can protect themselves and their families.

The children actively participate in the meetings, giving our team lots of feedback on ways in which they think the villages could be better protected.

Not long ago, one of our participants Rohan* told the team how a trafficker had recently come into their village and approached vulnerable families, trying to lure them into sending their children to work for him.

As soon as Rohan and the rest of our youth group got to know about it, they quickly identified the trafficker, stopped the man and helped remove him from the village.

The group further explained that the reason they had the courage to do so was because of the awareness sessions they had been exposed to by our staff. They now knew about child rights and child protection. They now knew the danger this man posed.

By working on the ground, directly in the source areas of trafficking victims, our work is making communities stronger, reducing the number of people who go missing and producing much safer environments for children to grow up.

She Thought of Her Daughter Everyday

Poorvi’s* story is defined by her unrelenting determination to create a better life for herself and her daughter.

Finding herself in a financially unsustainable marriage, Poorvi moved back to her family home in order to earn her own living to support herself and her young child. After being lured by the promise of a more secure job and better pay, Poorvi then travelled to Bellari in South India where she was trafficked into a brothel. Here she was subjected to frequent beatings and sexual abuse.

A year later and as part of a staggering rescue effort conducted by Justice and Care and local police, Poorvi was removed from the brothel. During the rescue, she played a pivotal role in gaining the trust of the younger victims. They looked up to her as a mother figure and she encouraged them to work with the Justice and Care team. She was later repatriated back to her hometown and joyfully reunited with her family and daughter.

Through the support of Justice and Care’s aftercare team, Poorvi began working at her parents’ shop, allowing her to save money. She was determined to earn enough to fund her daughter’s wedding. She says her happiest day was being able to attend, and pay for the ceremony and she even invited the Justice and Care team along. She now works at an orphanage so she can continue to support herself and her daughter.

The support that Justice and Care are able to provide to Poorvi has meant that she can now look forward to a safe and stable future in which she and her daughter can live a settled, happier life. Her gratitude for the efforts of Justice and Care are best expressed in her own words:

I had no dreams of being rescued or even returning home, but here I am - back at home with my daughter!  I am so happy that Justice and Care saved my life from that bondage. I was able to come back to my family and give  away my daughter's hand in marriage.’

Trafficked Siblings Reunited At Last

Brother and sister Mina* and Sundar* were just 14 and 15 years old when they were taken from their home and sold into slavery. The siblings were separated from one another until Justice & Care helped facilitate their reunion.

Taken from eastern India, Mina and her brother were forced to travel to the north where she was sold into domestic servitude and Sundar was sent to work in a factory. Mina was subjected to extensive mental, physical and sexual abuse until a local resident found her unconscious and she was admitted to hospital. After receiving medical treatment, Mina was transferred to a shelter where her case was passed on to Justice & Care whose hard work enabled her to be returned to her family.

Meanwhile Sundar was forced to work long hours, without food or pay. It wasn’t until months later, when Justice & Care conducted a factory rescue that Sundar was found and the siblings were reunited. Now, after receiving proper counselling and medical support, Mina is training to become a seamstress and Sundar is employed and is able to provide for his family. Justice & Care continues to support the family and now they are able to look towards a happier, safer future together.

A Singing Dream Renewed

Bhakti* always dreamed she was going to become a star. As a young girl, she so desperately wanted to sing and become famous for her voice, she jumped at the chance when a stranger promised get her work as a singer if she travelled to India with him.

She spent her journey fantasising about her life after winning the Indian Idol but on arriving at her final destination she realised she had been deceived. The man who had promised to make her dreams come true had in fact trafficked her and wanted to sell her for sex. Bhakti refused to work – crying and fighting – until finally her trafficker sold her to a brothel owner. She was then kept in a dirty brothel, where she was tortured and forced to work.

A year after being trafficked, Bhakti was rescued in a joint operation by police and Justice and Care and taken to a safe house. Our social workers worked hard to help her get over the trauma of her past with regular counselling and therapy sessions. One day she asked if she could have singing lessons. Staff were overjoyed that she felt motivated to sing again and signed her up for classes. After some lessons, she regained the confidence to sing not only in the shelter but at another NGO programme.

Encouraged and touched by the response she got and the support she had received, Bhakti spoke out about how she had been trafficked on the pretence of gaining a career as a singer. A few months later she was invited on a radio show, where she spoke about her past and the issue of human trafficking.

Bhakti now wants to use her singing as a platform to spread awareness about the crime and its impact.

Trafficker Apprehended by Own Victim

In November 2017 and at only 16 years old, Damini* received an award for exceptional bravery from the government of West Bengal.

When Damini* was barely 13-years-old, she had been kidnapped, drugged and trafficked hundreds of miles away from home. She was sold to a brothel and forced to see 20 men a day. Three painful years later she was rescued and Justice and Care was asked by the State to look after the rehabilitation and prosecution aspects of her case. However, despite all efforts to trace them, the people who had trafficked her had been absconding.

After returning home Damini would walk through villages scanning faces looking for the person who had destroyed her childhood.

A few months later when she was at a train station with her mother, she spotted the lady who had trafficked her. Sensing Damini's eyes on her, the lady in question tried to escape but Damini quickly caught up with her and held her singlehandedly. In the scuffle that ensued, a crowd quickly gathered and the police were called. Despite the long wait and challenging processes, our lawyers assisted a brave Damini in filing a case against her trafficker. The offender was booked under the relevant sections of the law and sent to jail.

"The thought that if she was set free she could traffic many other girls encouraged me to keep going,” she said.

As a result of her fierce determination and courage, the trafficker is no longer able to snare young girls and sell them into sexual slavery.

Justice and Care continues to support her through counselling, tuition classes and skill-based training - in her case - karate lessons, which she enjoys and excels in. She tells us that she wants to become a police officer when she grows up and fight human trafficking by going after people who ruin the lives of young girls.

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 28,000 Rs.

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.

Important Study On Trafficking and Safety Conducted Along with BSF Along The 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.

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.

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.


Sold. Enslaved. Saved. Studying.

When Justice and Care partnered with the police to save Ramesh*, he’d been working in an ice cream parlour, seven days a week, from the aged of 12, without payment. 

As a young child Ramesh had been forced to work with his siblings on street stalls – to pay for his father’s drinking and gambling addiction. After Ramesh’s mother died, he lived by the side of a railway station, regularly passing days without eating.

Aware that things were difficult for Ramesh, a family friend tricked him into leaving his home town, aged 12, under the pretext of getting him a well-paid job. They travelled to a city 1,500 miles from home, where Ramesh was sold into forced labour. But things were worse than Ramesh knew: his younger brother had also been sold into slavery, many miles away.

The rescue was part of a larger operation in the area to tackle child labour – and saw 27 people arrested and Ramesh and many peers freed and taken to a shelter home. 

Miraculously, Ramesh’s younger brother was also rescued. They were reunited after being separated for five years.

With dreams of buying his own house and providing for his brother, Ramesh has been attending a local school to get the qualifications required for doing a Hotel Management course.

A Justice and Care social worker said, “Ramesh is a very special boy. I am so proud of his determination to study and work so that his little brother can have a brighter future”. 

*Names changed to protect identities

A Life Restored After A Dream Destroyed

Trafficking comes in many guises. For Rahima*, who as a young teenager trustingly accompanied a neighbour to Mumbai – the city of dreams – on the promise of a good job, the dream morphed into an inescapable nightmare.

Leaving the Bangladeshi village together, crossing the border at night, and making their way to West Bengal, and onwards to Mumbai, Rahima had no idea she was being trafficked to India. On arrival she was sold to a lady who managed a brothel in one of Mumbai’s red-light districts.

Instead of the job she’d been promised, Rahima suffered severe violence and abuse in an attempt to “break her into the trade”. She struggles to talk about what happened in the brothel during her three years there: it’s too traumatic for her to think about. Her father, Sabbir Mortaza*, 65, never stopped thinking about his youngest daughter.

After the rescue, Justice and Care’s team continuously supported Rahima, working on all aspects of her care, from counselling and aftercare support, recording of legal statements and documentation, filing an application for repatriation, to conducting home investigation reports. She was also able to learn tailoring, karate and computer skills. And began the long journey towards physical and emotional healing.

Sabbir, Rahima’s father, is overwhelmed by the news which Justice and Care bring. His daughter, who he’s not seen for three years and thought he’d lost forever, will return today, the team tell him. Rahima plans to use the skills Justice and Care helped her acquire to start earning a livelihood. But she is not alone. The team will continue to be by her side, helping her practically, ensuring she is safe and well. Because she is no longer treated as a commodity to be bought, used and sold. But a person, a daughter, of great value.

*Names changed to protect identities

Justice and Care: We Stood With Young Women As They Faced-Off Abusers in Court

In an “enormously significant” case, attracting global coverage and believed to be the biggest of its kind in history, around 40 young women took the unprecedented step of facing their abusers in court.

After gathering intelligence, Justice and Care helped rescue the 40 young girls – each of whom had been subjected to repeated daily rape in brothels.

Located in south India, where the case went to trial, expectations were sober: few sex trafficking cases end in conviction. 

Justice and Care’s aftercare team stood by the traumatised survivors, providing expert support and intensive round-the- clock care. Because of this, many were able to testify as part of the prosecution in court. They faced down their accusers and secured convictions. 

A total of 39 people were convicted of sex trafficking and sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment, with enormous individual fines.

“This conviction is because of the courage of the survivors, all young women, who walked into the packed courtroom to identify their traffickers and the men who abused them.
Offenders who previously assumed they would get away with the crime will now know otherwise.

— Adrian Phillips, senior legal counsel for Justice and Care.

The Phone Call That Broke Rashid

Rashid was working away to make ends meet. The phone call, when it came, changed his world.

His beloved daughter, just 17, had gone missing. He began the long journey home feeling helpless. Sick with worry, he knew the fate of young girls who fell into the hands of traffickers, and wept as he travelled. Rashid knew the odds were stacked against them.

“We cried and cried and although we had rice in the house, we just didn't eat it” he said. “We thought even if we were rich, we would be useless as we'd lost our daughter and no amount of money could bring her back.”

At the local police station, Rashid was put in touch with the Justice and Care’s missing people team, who have handled 300 cases in the last few years. And, so far, have reunited 160 families. Including Rashid’s. 

We told Rashid that Justice and Care were able to help. Help we provided because of your generosity. He'll never forget the moment his daughter came home.

“One day we were outside and we saw a girl walking across the paddy fields. When she was some distance away, we realised it was Aanya*. We ran towards her. We were so happy we wept with joy and embraced her. No father or mother, daughter or son should have to go through this.” 

*Names changed to protect identities