MUMBAI, INDIA – This week, two managers of a brothel in Mumbai's red-light district were found guilty for sex trafficking crimes. The conviction secures justice for eight young women who were rescued from the brothel in early 2011, in a rescue operation led by police based on information they received from IJM Mumbai.
The conviction marked the end of an 18-month battle for justice. Two of the trafficking survivors chose to testify against the managers, and IJM helped them as they prepared to share the painful truth about what had happened inside the dark brothel walls. As required by Indian law, another woman testified as an independent witness, telling the court what she had seen on the night of the rescue operation.
Over the course of the trial, 55 court dates were set, but 21 were adjourned. Each delay meant the witnesses scheduled to testify on that day would have to return, prolonging the trial and the uncertainty that justice would prevail. The woman who testified as an independent witness was nine months pregnant when her day to testify finally arrived, but she was determined to go to court so these girls could receive the justice she knew they deserved.
On Wednesday, August 22, the traffickers were sentenced to prison, and the brothel housed in a large building was ordered closed. The court also ordered that each survivor should receive monetary compensation, one of IJM's first cases where all of the victims will receive such compensation from the state.
The comprehensive sentence was a "sign that the Indian justice system views [sex trafficking] crimes as causing serious harms to victims – and to society at large," according to IJM Mumbai Director of Legal Michelle Mendonca. She added that the combination of the prison sentence, order for the brothel to be closed and compensation for all of the survivors is how the courts can battle trafficking from all angles.