Violence is increasing.
In the communities we serve, the COVID-19 pandemic has had the harshest impact on vulnerable women and children, who are experiencing increased levels of violence all around the world.
See how we are still protecting the vulnerable in each region:
IJM Kenya – At the end of March, the country imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Enforcement of the order has been harsh with multiple deaths reported and we've seen a spike in cases of police brutality and abuse of power. IJM is working with government partners, who are working remotely and in shifts, to ensure that the new cases are investigated, and suspects taken to court.
IJM Ghana - The team is providing masks to hospitals and food to five shelters that we partner with to care for children rescued from forced labor, in order to ensure that they will have sufficient food while on lockdown.
IJM Dominican Republic - The country is under a very strict lockdown during COVID-19 and the local government has rescheduled most hearings until the lockdown is finished, however they are allowing critical hearings to resume virtually. Our relentless team has submitted some IJM cases for consideration to resume trial, and is getting ready to defend boys and girls who are survivors of sex trafficking upon the government’s response.
IJM Guatemala - At the beginning of the outbreak in March, the Guatemalan Public Justice System saw a dramatic decrease nationwide in reported cases of violence against women and children. It was suspected that lockdown measures, alongside public transportation closures, meant that many victims weren’t able to make it to the police station to file reports. Since then, special guidelines have been issued for how to receive and process complaints, and there's been a 35% increase in complaints related to these crimes. Our team is supporting these efforts to reduce barriers to reporting with a hotline where complaints can be phoned in and a patrol unit will either be immediately dispatched or follow up within 72 hours.
IJM Philippines – Law enforcement officers are still detecting and finding traffickers and rescuing children who have been trafficked online, but face the risk of COVID-19 exposure as they do this essential work. To support our partners at the Philippines Internet Crimes Against Children unit, we delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) to the law enforcement personnel.
The entire country of India is in lockdown. Thousands of migrant laborers who work in facilities and factories in the cities have returned to neighboring villages all across the country. Without work, they have lost their daily wages and are at risk of running out of food, water, and medicine.
IJM Bangalore – Bonded labor survivors are serving their communities through COVID-19 education and supporting food distribution.
IJM Chennai - IJM staff and survivors with the Rescued Bonded Labor Association have been reaching out to their communities providing hand washing trainings, teaching them about the virus, and working with the government to provide needed food support. In Madurai, migrant workers were left stranded due to the lockdown, unable to travel back to their native states. The police noticed their vulnerable state and asked IJM to help provide groceries and disinfectant while they provided temporary shelters.
IJM Delhi - Despite the lockdown, the team has still been able to support rescue operations. Five boys were rescued from slavery at a paper-making factory in Telangana state.
IJM Mumbai – Six courts in different parts of Mumbai have been operational during the lockdown and called on IJM to help provide face masks and hand sanitizer to continue operating. The team was honored to assist the courts in this way as they seek to continue ensuring justice during these times.