Free the Slaves and its local partner in India just helped three survivors of sex trafficking to gain a legal victory against their three traffickers, now sentenced to 10 years in jail. In an unusual step, the judge also awarded half of their fine of approximately $555 to the victims.
Saket, the field worker for the FTS local partner, DDWS, was delighted:
“I am very happy as this was the first trafficking case that I handled when I joined the team in 2007 and I could never have imagined then that these traffickers would ever get convicted. It has given me lots of confidence. We will ensure every trafficker gets the same fate.”
Read: ‘FTS Update: 11 Bonded Laborers Freed in Northern India’
When Saket helped the girls and their families to file the case against the traffickers back in 2007, they were just 15, 16 and 17. Supriya, FTS South Asia Director, explained what happened to them:
“They were lured by a female trafficker to Punjab for a job at a thread factory, but she put them into forced prostitution. Before they were forced into prostitution, they were subjected to mental and physical torture. After a few months, the trafficker left the girls and fled away with her husband. One of the girls managed to escape back to her village.”
Saket introduced the girls to a committed local lawyer, Rita Ghosh, who has been pursuing their case relentlessly ever since, with guidance from Justice Ventures International. The traffickers were arrested and all three girls safely reintegrated in their village. All are married now.
In court, the lawyer for the traffickers asked for a lenient view of the case, but Rita demonstrated what the trafficker had done to the girls and called for the maximum punishment. She celebrated the victory with Supriya:
“It’s my honor to be associated with Free the Slaves’ partner, DDWS, as a legal advisor for the past seven years. The passion of the team has given me an aim to win every legal case against traffickers and slaveholders for them, and see many more traffickers behind bars.
“I have won this case against all odds. The accused party did not leave any moment to threaten me, and challenged me that I could not win the case. But I took the challenge as I had a team behind me who kept the witness intact and the community vigilant which was a big task. I prayed the court to pass the severe sentence so that no such heinous crime be committed in the future. I am extremely happy because for the first time in my legal career part of the financial penalty paid by the trafficker will be given to the survivor, and accused has got 10 years imprisonment. We will ensure the trafficker cannot get any relief from higher court. The sentence of the trafficker has already started. Thank you for all your support.”