School of Justice: A movement and an Initiative to Empower the Victims of Child Trafficking
“Truth is much stranger than fiction and often much more powerful” a famous quote to elaborate the veracity of life. Life could be quite beautiful for some but for some, it would be a punishment to be born in this cruel world. For some, it would be filled with dreams and happiness but for some, it would be a tale of never-ending trauma of feeling powerless and helpless. No words could ever do justice to the agony faced by the victims of Child Prostitution. When we see the numbers of sexual exploitation of minor girls in India, we are left dumbstruck.
The latest reports by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) have shown an increase of 25% in human trafficking, with 1.25 million girls being forced into child prostitution.
Despite such rampant violations of human rights, the most staggering fact is, only 55 cases in 2015 had led to a conviction. One of the main reasons for such injustice is the lack of good lawyers and judges with special expertise and in-depth knowledge in the field of human trafficking and child prostitution. In an attempt to remedy this appaling situation a host of organizations have come together to run a school to save the survivors from further injustice.
The School with a Very Bold Ambition
According to the statistics from the National Crimes Records Bureau, in India, a girl is kidnapped every eight minutes. Between the year 2013 to 2014, 67,000 children went missing, and out of that 47% of the minors were forced into prostitution. 1.2 million children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation as per reports of ECPAT INTERNATIONAL, in 2014. The gigantic numbers are proof that how massive the problem is.
Free a Girl an international organization that has been fighting against human trafficking and sexual exploitation across the world, has taken a radical step of opening the School for Justice, an initiative to change the system from within and train the survivor to become a lawyer and public prosecutors. School for Justice wants to break the cycle where the perpetrators were never punished and the victims had to live a life in fear.
The Significance of such a step..
Although India does have laws against trafficking, the legal process of our country is very complex. Moreover, there is little awareness about it and laws means nothing if the justice system and authorities are not on the side of the victim. The worst part of the problem is that victims are the one who ends up getting arrested rather than getting the rehabilitation. Furthermore, India being a conservative country there are too many social and cultural taboos around women and her sexuality. The society makes the victims of prostitution feel worthless and put the fault on them for being exploited or manipulated.
Free a Girl movement wants to change the scenario of the survivors. The School for Justice is the first and one of its kinds that is fighting the impunity of offenders of child prostitution.
The methodology of this contrasting School
The School for Justice is not just a school, it is an education programme and simultaneously offers support, tuition and as well as mentoring the girls that is needed to reach at the university level. The students of the School for Justice were rescued from brothels with the help of local NGOs. Once rescued the process of rehabilitation is carried on with each girl. The trauma endured by these girls is the most agonizing and disturbing. They have undergone trauma counselling, psychological, and medical care before the programme started. Support for these girls continued throughout the learning process. Once they were ready to face the world these 19 courageous girls were enrolled and given the opportunity to get an education.
The nineteen girls are not just survivors; they are the fighters who got a second chance to prove their capacities. The girls are enrolled at the best law universities in the country. These girls share a special bond with each other. They are filled with furious determination to help others with a similar fate. Once they complete their degree the School for Justice will pursue the government to give them a chance to become public prosecutors.
Metamorphosis in the Life of these girls
It may seem impossible for 19 young women to challenge or try to change the entire system, but it is an admirable beginning. The girls who were victims are now filled with confidence and passion to fight for justice. The founder of the organization, Evelien Hölsken, said in an interview about these brave girls, “That’s why the stories of every single girl in the school are so important ― they were trafficked, they were sold, it was not a choice. They are so so brave, and we are so proud of them. If nobody dares to speak out, then nothing will change.” Moreover, the organization is hoping to enrol more girls and give them the same opportunity given to these 19.
The stories of their past life are horrifying and harrowing. They have been through an innumerable amount of abuse, and torture. They had been sold into prostitution by family members or near ones. The School for Justice is like a beam of bright light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“For the more privileged, a law degree can open up a wide variety of doors, but for them, it is a new lease on life.”