On Monday, October 31, Regent University School of Law students were treated to hearing from Evan Henck and Abishek Jebaraj about the sex trafficking and bond slavery trade in India and the efforts being done to fight back.
Evan Henck is a Regent Law graduate and worked for Freedom Firm in India for seven years. Evan oversaw all of Freedom Firm’s investigations and rescues, aftercare of the survivors, and legal follow up, and he was integral part in each step of Freedom Firm’s mission—Rescue, Restoration and Justice. He currently serves on Freedom Firm’s U.S. Board of Directors and is an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Grayson County.
Abishek Jebaraj is the India General Counsel at Justice Ventures International (JVI). Abishek has spearheaded the India Southern Regions operations and served as a member of JVI’s India National Leadership Team. Also joining Abishek was Washington and Lee professor and JVI board member David Eggert.
In India, the spread of sex trafficking and bond slavery is largely driven due to the poor economic status of the majority of the people. It is not uncommon for a sex trafficker to show up in a remote village, make promises to a girl’s family of a job in the big city, take the girl back with him, and the reality is the girl is now being forced into sex slavery. Another common occurrence, and even more disturbing, is that a girl’s own family will sell their own daughter to a brothel to pay off family debts. It is these problems that Freedom Firm and Justice Ventures International are fighting to stop.
|L to R: Jeffrey Brauch, Evan, Abishek, David, and Ernie Walton
Evan and Abishek, during their work to legally prosecute the traffickers and help rescue girls from brothels, discovered that by working together more work could be done. Many times, NGOs tend to focus on one specific problem in one specific area. But as was mentioned by Evan, “we are not trying to re-invent the wheel here.” By joining forces in India, both groups were able to extend their reach and effect more change.
When I was in Uganda this summer, these same sex trafficking and bond slavery issues were being fought against too. What struck me when listening to Evan and Abishek is that the same tactics to “lure” young girls into being sold are the exact same tactics that are used in Africa. Seeing how well the two organizations in India worked together and the benefits of joining forces instead of being singularly focused made me think, “Why can’t several NGOs all over the world work together to fight sex trafficking and bond slavery.” If we are “not re-inventing the wheel” at least some of the successful tactics used in India should be able to cross over to other parts of the world. Since sex trafficking and bonded slavery is a global issue, it is long past time we begin to work together towards a global answer.