While our work with IJM has focused on labour trafficking, we do have offices that work on sex trafficking. One of our offices just supported local prosecutors in getting a historic conviction, the longest in the history of the state of West Bengal. According to the Times of India:
On Thursday a Haldia court sentenced man a 13 year rigorous imprisonment for multiple sex trafficking related crimes, the longest sentence in sex trafficking in West Bengal. Naru Gopal Shaw was convicted on April 10 under five sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) by the Additional District and Sessions Court, Haldia, East Mednipore.
Additionally, this was not the brothel owner, but someone who supported the brothel owner’s crime:
“This case is very significant because the convict was not the principal accused, but was charged for abetment,” said Amal Ojha, the special public prosecutor to the case. “This proves that even those who are not directly involved, but are helping as accomplices, can also be punished,” added Saptarshi Biswas, advocate for International Justice Mission (IJM), who provided legal counsel to the victims.
The victims in this case articulated why a conviction is so important:
Three of the rescued victims returned to court to identify Shaw and testify about the abuse he inflicted upon them. One victim, six months into pregnancy made four-hour journey from her home to stand before the court. Another victim testified that Shaw forced them to consume alcohol, raped, and tortured them. She said he threatened that if they didn’t obey the brothel owner they would face dire consequences.
“This will bring terror to people who are running brothels or abusing girls,” one of the victims said. “When people hear that these men who were very powerful are behind bars they will think twice about committing such crime,” the woman added.