The unbroken cycle of poverty, debt and high-demand for slave labor and sex trafficking leaves many broken families and individuals in the nation of India. But individuals and organizations are working to combat this repetitive, tide-like loop.
On Monday, October 31, Regent University School of Law’s Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law presented a discussion titled, “Slavery in India: Myth or Reality?”
The event featured assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, Grayson County and alumnus Evan Henck ’07 (LAW), and India General Counsel at Justice Ventures International (JVI) Abishek Jebaraj. The panel was moderated by University of Washington & Lee Professor David Eggert.
To Henck, slavery in India is all but a myth. His line of work as the former director of Freedom Firm, an organization that seeks “rescue, restoration and justice” for survivors of sex-trafficking, gave him specific insight into the repetitive problems unfolding every day in India.
“Sex trafficking is everywhere,” said Henck. “I’m not sure how to measure it, but essentially it’s in every city and town in India. Every town seems like they have red light areas.”
Bonded labor is another struggle for Indian cities. Families work to pay off loans for generations, and frequently the women and children absorbed into this type of trafficking are beaten.
According to Jebaraj, slave labor is so extensive in Indian cities that an approximated eight to 10 million people are impacted by it.
“New York City has 12 million residents,” said Jebaraj. “That should give you an idea of how big the problem is.”
Henck explained that the injustice is far too widespread to rely solely on education or restoration means to combat the problem.
“The legal means is by far the best means,” said Henck.
He believes that developing the rule of law and establishing repercussions for those who participate in the trafficking of young women, children and slave labor is the most effective means of stopping the trend.
But the problem doesn’t stop with legality, or even recognizing the moral issues tacked with selling labor or sex as commodities. It’s a social issue.
“We’re there because no one else really cares,” said Henck.
For Jebraj and his work with JVI, his hope is for freedom, justice and restoration for the survivors of trafficking. He joined the organization when he was 20 years old. He says the work he’s done over the last decade has shaped him significantly.
“God got my heart,” said Jebaraj. “And I have a more fulfilling calling on my life.”
His call to the students in the room was to “do something,” even if it means dedicating 15 hours of pro-bono work a year to the cause.
“Just a few hours a year can make a small difference,” said Jebaraj. “And, of course, prayer makes a world of a difference.”
Learn more about Regent University School of Law and the Regent Law Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law.