India’s ‘School for Justice’ teaches human trafficking survivors to be lawyers

As a young girl in Kultali, India, Lata went further in school than most girls in her village. But at 16 years old, her education was cut short — she married a boy who sold her to a brothel two months after their wedding. She felt like she had no future. Fortunately, Lata escaped sex trafficking. And now she’s fighting back, by becoming a lawyer through a new specialized program in India.The School for Justice, which just opened on April 6, educates survivors of sex trafficking to pursue careers in law. Eventually, these women plan to use their degrees to prosecute traffickers like the ones who abused them.

“Becoming a lawyer is my dream, and bringing justice to those responsible for forced child prostitution is my goal, I want to punish the men who did this to me.”  – Lata

The school is the result of a partnership between Free A Girl Movement, an international organization that works to free girls from sex trafficking, and one of the top law schools in India. During their studies, the women will live at the law school, the name of which remains undisclosed due to security concerns.

“These are real girls who have been through highly traumatizing experiences and had lives that we could hardly imagine,” Bas Korsten, one of the project’s founders, told Adweek. “They are determined to succeed in their ambition to become lawyers, with the power to prosecute the criminals who once owned them.”

India has the largest number of people in human trafficking globally. Though it’s hard to know the exact scope of sex trafficking due to the illicit nature of the practice, the U.N. estimates that there are 3 million sex workers in India. An estimated 40 percent of those sex workers are trafficked children, mostly girls from ethnic minorities and lower castes. According to Free A Girl, few traffickers are convicted because the cases are often dropped, due to lack of evidence and a lack of lawyers specializing in sexual exploitation. In 2015, only 55 cases led to convictions throughout the entire country.

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