India, with over 1.1 billion people, has a growing economy and a rich cultural history. At the same time, according to World Bank,approximately two thirds of Indians live with an income of less than $2 a day. Millions suffer from human trafficking and other extreme forms of injustice due to poverty, corruption, discrimination, and other unjust causes. JVI works with local partners to address these issues, bringing greater freedom, justice and restoration to the poor and oppressed.
In Uttar Pradesh, five sex traffickers were sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment. The accused kid- napped and raped a 13-year-old girl, whom they intended to traffic. Additionally, the JVI Mumbai team secured a seven-year imprisonment for three traffickers who kidnapped a 15-year-old girl and forced her into prostitution at a Mumbai brothel. These convictions set a poignant example of legal account- ability to other traffickers.
Minor Girl Rescued from Delhi Brothel
JVI partnered with a local NGO and the local government to rescue a minor girl from sex slavery in a notorious Delhi brothel. The girl, originally from Nepal, was forced to provide sex for up to 15 clients a day and was not paid any wage
Approximately one billion people worldwide live in slums, without access to decent housing, electricity, sanitation, work, or education. Tragically, slum dwellers are frequently unaware of the laws that exist to protect them and the government programs that could ameliorate their condition. JVI’s legal aid programs across India and in Beijing em- power the urban poor to access their rights.
In southeast Chennai, for example, JVI lawyer Lalitha Enoch trained over 120 women in two separate sessions on India’s Domestic Violence Act. The trainees came alive during the interactive session, describing physical abuse, harassment, and other oppressive conditions in their lives. One participant explained, “We had no clue about all this. This information will help us help other women who could go through abuse… this program has taught me how to make a complaint. I know what exactly to do and whom to meet.”
And in the slums of Mumbai and Delhi, JVI, with the help of local partners, conducted domestic violence awareness and legal training clinics for women, focusing on how they can protect themselves from physical, mental, and emo- tional abuse at home. The Delhi training also focused on laws relating to minimum wages. Following each training, the women were offered individual legal counseling by a JVI lawyer. The Mumbai trainings also provided a forum for the women to speak out about another pressing injustice: the community has been denied access to water and electricity. JVI is now working to help the women find ways to address those needs as well.
Legal Aid in Orissa
In 2008, tribal Christians – a minority group in Orissa – were attacked, beaten, and murdered for their faith. Even after the violence ended, the victims lived in terror that their attackers, unchecked by the law, would strike again. JVI partnered with Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) to build a team of dedicated lawyers to pros- ecute the perpetrators of these vicious crimes, and the team has continued to work on behalf of the Orissa victims. In 2010, one of the key leaders behind the violence was convicted and sentenced to six years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.10,000 (~US$220). The conviction was a significant victory for the victims and their families.
Operation Agape: Chennai, India
Operation Agape was a JVI initiative that supported various human rights ministries run by churches in the slums of southeast Chennai, India. JVI partnered with local pas-
tors and NGOs (World Vision, Christ the Rock Church, Christian Disciples Church, and Greenway Foundation) to secure access to education and decent work for women and children. Through Operation Agape, 120 children have participated in after-school tutor- ing and soft skills programs. Approximately 35 women have received job training through tailoring programs. Another 120 women who live and work in the slums were educated on their rights through legal aid clinics.
Equipping the Church in Southeast Chennai
The Chennai team performed a six-part human rights and legal aid training program for 69 pastors in southeast Chennai in partnership with Greenway Foundation. For many of the pastors, this was their first exposure to human rights law and to justice as an integral part of ministry. The trainings provided an introduction to human rights and Indian law, as well as information about specific laws related to human trafficking, domestic violence, and caste-based violence. JVI equipped the pastors with the tools to educate their con- gregations as well, so the pastors will be able to help more people access their rights in the slum communities their churches serve.
Housing for Bonded Labor Survivors in Tamil Nadu
On August 13, 2010, an entire village in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu gathered to celebrate the dedication of 25 new homes built for released bonded laborers. The homes, constructed by the former slaves themselves, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, JVI, and Integrated Rural Community De- velopment Society, are a physical manifestation of newfound security and future expectation.
Courage Homes in Delhi
JVI provided legal support and other technical services for Courage Homes, a short-term aftercare home for minor girls who have been rescued from forced prostitution. In Delhi, the number of rescued girls far outweighs the number of aftercare facilities, and the opening of Courage Homes is a great ben- efit to the justice community and to trafficking survivors.
Housing for Orissa Survivors
In 2010 and early 2011, JVI partnered with the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) to provide restoration for survivors of the Orissa violence. With JVI’s support, EFI advocates and local leaders secured access to government housing and rehabilita- tion benefits for several Christian families. The provision of land and financial com- pensation was vital for these survivors, many of whom lost both homes and family members and were reduced to living in refugee camps. Today, many of these fami- lies have received their financial compensation and gone on to build new homes.