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Center Intern Interview: Pamela Dodge

Pam Putting Her South Asia Pin on the Map at the Center
Pam served as a legal intern this summer with International Justice Mission in South Asia. IJM seeks to protect the poor against violence by partnering with nationals to rescue victims, prosecute perpetrators, restore victims, and ultimately to transform justice systems. Pam worked with the legal team to combat sex trafficking by researching various legal issues—including the use of video conferencing for victim testimony—and writing research briefs for the IJM advocates. 
The following is an interview summary conducted with Pam Dodge related to her intern experience with the Center for Global Justice at Regent University’s School of Law. 
Q:       Where did you serve your internship and what did you learn?
I interned with International Justice Mission (IJM) in South Asia for six weeks and returned to the US on August 3, 2015.

I primarily worked with the IJM legal team to combat sex trafficking. I researched various legal issues and wrote research briefs, including one on using video conferencing for victim testimony in court.

The most influential part of my experience was my interaction with the local staff.  Most of the obstacles the team faces come from within the system. For example, when a judge grants bail to a convicted trafficker who will undoubtedly reoffend.  The system is broken and inadequate at providing justice to the victims, mostly young girls under the age of 16.
The implementation of the use of video conferencing will allow the victims to testify without fear of facing their trafficker in court and the costs associated with traveling to the specific court location.

Q:       What were the major challenges you faced during your internship? 
The victims have an immense distrust for the legal system because of rampant corruption.  Many victims are controlled by their pimps through the use of illicit drugs.  They are often forced into prostitution and have limited choices, if any.  Many of the victims are minors who are poor and have little education.  Unfortunately, when girls are rescued it is not unusual for them to return to prostitution because it is the only way of life they have ever known. 

Q:       What surprised you the most about your internship experience?
I see my experience as two sides of the same coin.  On one side of the coin I knew the judicial system in Southeast Asia was broken; however, I didn’t realize the degree and severity, or the level of incompetence that pervades the system.

For example, advocates (IJM lawyers) go to court and sit behind the public prosecutor and feed them the information about each case.  I view this as the prosecutors not doing their jobs to a level of competency and professionalism.  They are unprepared and rely on someone else to do their work for them.

On the other side of the coin:  the IJM employees were more wonderful than I had anticipated.  Their energy level was high and they possessed a great deal of determination. I never viewed them as discouraged or deterred by the slow progress of the judicial system.

Q:       Did anything unusual or concerning occur during your internship? 
What I’m about to share is a true story. Our team was attempting to rescue a group of girls in a specific area of town.  We had the appropriate paperwork and knew the location and the identity of the trackers.  On two occasions we attempted this rescue and each time it was called off for various reasons.  On the third attempt the pimp was smart and knew what we were attempting to do. 
When our “Fake Buyer” arrived at the location to meet the girl the pimp told him the girl was not there but had been transferred to a different location.  The police called off the rescue because they did not have the necessary paperwork for the new location.  Our team was discouraged but not deterred. For three days we prayed and asked the Lord for His direction. 

Finally, and as a result of our perseverance, we received the paperwork for the new location and a few days later went back for a fourth rescue.  This time we succeeded!  Not only did we rescue the two girls but we also rescued a total of 17 girls, five of which were minors. In total six people were arrested for their involvement in the sex trafficking of these women and girls.

Q:       Share with us what’s next and possible career goals 
Since the first missions trip I served on, the Lord has grown in my heart a passion for serving the poor overseas. Alongside this passion, I have—for as long as I can remember—wanted to study law.

Two years ago, I visited Regent University to attend the Center for Global Justice Symposium, and I saw for the first time how these passions could be intertwined. Not only could they be intertwined, but they must be intertwined to truly serve the poor around the world. Caring about human rights for the poor is directly related to caring about functioning public justice systems. 

I would love to work with IJM in the USA and prosecute cases.  I’m not certain if I will work abroad again but I do believe I need to gain experience here in the USA first.

Q:       What closing comments would you like to offer the readers?
I loved working with IJM and drew great strength from the 30 minutes of prayer each day (IJM has 30 minute prayer sessions every day).  Everything we did was covered in prayer. Every victim, every project, every rescue, every case and yes even every police officer was prayed for by name.

“The Lord loves to use small things to defeat the Giants (like David and Goliath).”

As I returned back to the USA I felt sad because I had such a wonderful spiritual experience with the team.  I developed a more intimate relationship with the Lord and a great thirst for Him.  I didn’t want to leave the team who had been with me through all these experiences.  The Lord reminded me that HE is the one who has experienced this with me, not just the team.  He is the one that opened the doors and has walked with me.  Everything I experience in life, it is He who will be there with me on this journey.

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