Strengthening Justice for Survivors in India with STCI
Maharashtra has been one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19 in India. The pandemic has exacerbated many vulnerabilities, particularly for those experiencing poverty, including vulnerability to trafficking. As the pandemic continues, traffickers are adapting their methods, including the use of online methods, particularly in regards to the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).
GFEMS is working to end impunity for traffickers and strengthen justice delivery for survivors.
With funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and working with Save The Children India (STCI), the Fund is addressing the enabling environment that allows trafficking to persist.
Working with a local NGO, GFEMS aims to ensure that the trafficking cases brought to trial are more efficiently resolved by interpreting the law in the spirit in which it was enacted, improving evidence examination, and ensuring the coordination of justice system actors.
GFEMS projects focus on sustainable solutions with impactful long-term outcomes. The STCI project is no exception. Long term success will be achieved by supporting a justice delivery system that is strengthened, sensitized, and coordinated, resulting in effective prosecution of traffickers. The project will also ensure that survivors have faith in the system, based on improved support and responsiveness of the courts and legal representatives. Specifically, STCI will build capacity and extend mentorship to government stakeholders and legal actors – prosecutors, judges, District Legal Services Authority legal aid lawyers, and paralegal volunteers – and extend legal counseling and assistance in court and police stations to survivors of CSEC. The training and mentorship are designed to increase sensitivity among judges toward victims, helping ensure that victims participate as an integral part of the justice delivery system.
In addition to a planned evaluation of intervention effectiveness, GFEMS plans to conduct learning activities to answer questions such as:
- What are critical aspects of the law that are left to judges’ interpretation that could be used in victims’ favor?
- How do victims perceive justice and the justice delivery process?
- Does the addition of a victim-centric lens in prosecutor training result in greater or more sustained victim participation in the prosecution process?
- If we train and give ongoing support to one specific arm of the anti-trafficking ecosystem (i.e., the justice system), does it contribute to reduced prevalence in the target geography?
GFEMS looks forward to sharing more information about this project as it is implemented, and is grateful for the support of the U.S. Department of State and the partnership of STCI.
This article and the STCI project were funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.