MUMBAI, INDIA – This week, a brothel owner and manager were convicted and sentenced to prison for sex trafficking crimes. The conviction means the traffickers cannot exploit any more young women for sex, and it means justice for one of the survivors from their brothel.
Jansi* left her small village in search of work a few years ago. She went to Bangalore, a booming city in her home state of Karnataka. But she struggled to find good work, so she decided to go back to her old life. As she waited for the bus that would take her home, a man approached her. He told her about a good job in Mumbai. She took it, eager for one more chance.
But the promise of a good job was a lie. Jansi found herself in another massive city, one where she didn't speak any of the languages. And she found herself in an abusive brothel, one where she was beaten with sticks and forced to have sex with customers. Jansi knew no one and had nowhere to turn for help.
In February 2011, IJM helped local police rescue Jansi from the third floor of the Mumbai brothel where she was trapped. The police arrested suspects, and soon a trial began. Jansi moved into an aftercare home where she could get the counseling and care she needed.
Jansi decided she wanted to testify, to share the truth about what had happened to her. One of the IJM Mumbai lawyers said that Jansi's "testimony just shone" when she took the stand. Another lawyer added that even though the defense counsel "had given her a very hard time, still she stood firm." It was a difficult trial, and the presiding judge on the case was transferred more than once, delaying the outcome.
On October 23, 2012, the final judge delivered a just ruling: Both the brothel owner and manager were convicted, guilty of sex trafficking crimes. Both face seven years in prison, and Jansi will receive compensation from the government.
Jansi has moved forward, ever determined to find good work to support herself. She lives in an aftercare home, and her IJM social worker is helping her evaluate a tailoring program to learn a new skill.
Jansi is not ready to go home yet, but she says she wants to someday. Her family will need to accept that what happened to her was wrong, not something wrong that Jansi did. This week's conviction sends this very message to Jansi, her community and her country.