When I read a quote made famous by Martin Luther King’s, MLK, ‘But let justice roll down like waters, and uprightness like a mighty and ever-flowing stream,’ I am reminded of the verdicts passed by different benches/court in various of our sex trafficking cases. If you have seen a mighty river, you will be able to identify with the quote . The many streams join together to make a great river which then rolls over all kinds of land. The stronger the stream, the greater the force of the river.

The last conviction we had was in December 2022, a survivor’s two-year long wait for justice after being rescued from a brothel in Ahmednagar. The most recent conviction was a sweet reward for Simi, a survivor from Nagpur who was rescued from a brothel in February 2022. On 24th May 2023, after 14 months of waiting, Simi received justice; four perpetrators were convicted for sexually exploiting her, were fined Rs 4000 each and sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment. A perfect example of goodness flowing like a mighty and everlasting stream.

Simi was bold despite intimidation tactics from the opposition and stood firm in her statements and testimony in court, all resulting in the judge passing the conviction order. Simi got justice. Her fight was not in vain. She saw people stand by her and take on those who broke her. Simi knows she has people who will stand by her and fight for her.

On 30th May, the shelter home where she was living threw a surprise celebration party in her honour. Simi was invited to share a few words. She became the motivational speaker for the evening and encouraged 48 survivors to fight for themselves, their rights and justice. She assured them that they were not alone in this fight.

In the battle we are fighting, the survivors and us witness loopholes in the justice system leading to various failures; disposals, acquittals, bails given to the accused on technical grounds, falsified investigation reports or on compassionate grounds, the accused then intimidating survivors and their families to change or withdraw their statements; custody of survivors given to the perpetrators or their own families who are unable to care for them resulting in them getting re-trafficked. When law fails to protect and give justice to survivors, they withdraw and abandon their battle for justice.

“Persistence, persistence, and more persistence. Justice and restoration are a much longer, harder and tougher process.”

This conviction where all accused have been given a strong sentence is justice rolling like waters. We see that good orders often set precedence for more good orders. That is our hope with this case too. We do hope for other courts and benches to read and learn. That judges, public prosecutors and private advocates see their sphere of influence and use it to have justice roll like waters.

What do we learn from this?

Persistence, persistence, and more persistence. Justice and restoration are a much longer, harder and tougher process. Last year we decided to focus on persistence; we opposed bail and custody applications, ensured our attendance in court, application for documentation, Public Interest Litigations… We are beginning to see the results of that focus and persistence.

The fight for justice is a long one. We have had instances where the accused was absconding for more than seven years simply because a judge had granted bail.

The fight for justice is an expensive one. There is no better time than now to thank you for supporting us in kind, donation, expertise and the myriad ways you do in this fight for justice even though it is often long drawn. One day our streams will come together and form such a powerful and mighty river that we will be unstoppable and accomplish our mission – eliminating child prostitution in India.

National Director, Catherine Raja