May 9, 2010

HUMAN TRAFFICKERS RECEIVE LANDMARK CONVICTIONS IN KOLKATA

Ten-year sentences handed down for trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors in IJM-assisted case


KOLKATA, INDIA – On 3 May, 2010, two men and one woman from Kolkata were sentenced to 10 years in prison for the trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of three minor girls.

Over the course of one year, the victims had been forced to provide sexual services for the commercial gain of their captors. The perpetrators were arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on February 16, 2007, while attempting to sell three minor
girls for the purpose of sex. International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights agency, assisted CID throughout the case, including in locating the three victims and providing vital evidence on the basis of which the three victims were rescued and the perpetrators arrested.


The girls, 12, 14 and 16 years old, had been lured by traffickers from their rural villages in Nepal and West Bengal with the prospect of legitimate work in Kolkata. Instead, they were “sold” to the accused persons, who in turn forced them to provide sexual services to as many as 12 customers a day.


The convictions are a milestone in sex trafficking casework in India. According to a 2009 report by the United States Department of State, 1,970 traffickers have been arrested within the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Goa and West Bengal, resulting in just 30 convictions – a mere 1.5% of trafficking-related arrests.


“The courageous testimonies of the three girls, along with the compelling evidence that was seized by the CID at the time of the arrests in February 2007, convinced the Kolkata court to hold the perpetrators in custody throughout the trial,” said IJM advocate Saptarshi Biswas. “The conviction of all three perpetrators today sends a clear message to traffickers that their crimes will not be tolerated and demonstrates the state of West Bengal’s determination to ensure that access to justice is not denied to the most vulnerable and marginalized.”


Immediately after their rescue, the minors were placed in aftercares homes where they have been receiving counseling and schooling. “The girls have been completely transformed since their rescue,” reports IJM social worker Rupa Chetri, who has worked closely with all three former victims. “They are thriving in their studies and are hopeful for their futures.”

International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM’s multi-national staff work in 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to ensure that the global poor are protected from violent forms of oppression by their countries’ own laws. IJM’s founding principle is the
defense and protection of individual human rights for all people by bringing the law to bear on their behalf and by prosecuting perpetrators who violate local and international laws.


IJM’s lawyers, investigators and social workers partner with local officials to respond to violent oppression by ensuring immediate victim relief; pursuing perpetrator prosecution; providing aftercare for victims as they navigate the complex process of rebuilding their lives.

http://www.ijm.org/

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