CHIANG MAI, THAILAND – Sua's* family and friends from her church crowded into the small courtroom. They were eager yet nervous for the judge to read the verdict. The protection of the law is not a guarantee for many living in poverty in Thailand.
Five months ago, 17-year-old Sua was sexually assaulted by a neighbor after he offered to drive her home from her grandmother's house. After the assault, IJM helped Sua move to an aftercare home where she can receive counseling and more educational opportunities. One of IJM Thailand's lawyers started working with the public prosecutor to develop a case, to seek justice for Sua and ensure the man is held accountable under Thai law.
Sua testified about the abuse, sharing with the court what her neighbor had done – a bold step in a community where crimes are often handled privately between families and swept under the rug. On August 10, 2012, the court issued a verdict: her neighbor was convicted and sentenced to prison.
"Every conviction is important because it sends a message to the child that she matters, that her country wants justice for her," says IJM Field Office Director Khem Saksakunmongkhon, adding, "And a conviction sends an important message to the community that you cannot abuse children without consequence of the law."
*A pseudonym has been used for the protection of this IJM client.