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New Year Begins with Massive Rescues

Three generations. That’s how long these families pictured said they have been trapped in a cycle of forced labor slavery in India.

For 10 years, they were forced to sell their fish to one man because he illegally held them in debt. He’d take their fish to the market and make huge profits. Residents in this small village in the state of Telangana said that this same man gave them fishing nets on loan, but would charge exorbitant interest they could never imagine repaying. Families fished day in, day out, enduring physical and verbal abuse with no hope of ever buying back their freedom.

Fortunately, someone discovered their plight. An organization had just completed training with IJM and knew the signs of forced labor slavery. This was their first-ever rescue operation, and IJM staff flew in to support the organization and local government officials. On January 8, the head official issued release certificates to 96 individuals, including a 10-year-old child. These legal papers declare them free.

A day earlier, two teenage girls were rescued from a massive red-light district in Kolkata.

In a brothel among crumbling buildings and narrow alleyways, Indian police and IJM staff found the girls who had been sold for sex.

Both girls are from very poor families and abusive households. They said people they trusted offered them a way out--a respite from the violence. Instead, they were sold to this brothel in one of India’s most notorious neighborhoods for commercial sexual exploitation.

After the rescue, police arrested four suspects and collected evidence. An IJM social worker remained with the two survivors the entire time, accompanying them in the car to the police station and explaining all of the steps and paperwork. The girls are now at a safe shelter.

On the same day in the Philippines, three girls—6, 8 and 19 years old—were rescued from a hotel.

Suspects thought they were going to sell three girls. Instead, they were arrested. Thanks to an anonymous tip, the regional anti-trafficking police unit uncovered the crime, called IJM and staged an operation at a hotel in Manila. Two suspected traffickers are now in custody.

The girls were reassured that they weren’t in trouble—they were being rescued. IJM staff worked with government social workers to help calm down the girls and explain what was happening. Now they are safe at a shelter for trafficking victims.

Each one of the survivors rescued this week is now safe. Restoration will take time, but a better story begins today.


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