Today, 17th July is observed as International Justice Day all over the world. Today I encourage everyone reading this to raise their voices against injustice every single day of the year! Fight for what is right.
What is important for us, at this moment, is to understand and recognize the power that lies within each one of us. Not only today but every single day must be a firm reminder that we as a community are the strongest advocates of justice for all. Yes, the Courts carry out and implement the rule of law, but it is the responsibility of every one of us, individually and collectively, to stand up for those who are unable to fight for themselves, to fight for justice. Gross violations of human rights such as trafficking, rape, enslavement, torture and prostitution of underage girls is on the rise. These are the burning injustices that need to be spoken about and dealt with. Only when we question, discuss and take action together can we strengthen the response to injustice as a whole.
Justice is important for victims and their families. It helps them bring closure to their painful past knowing that those who were responsible for their pain and bondage are now paying for their deeds. It helps them live unafraid of those criminals who often threatened them with death or defamation in society. Justice helps these girls live in freedom from fear of being found again by their perpetrators. According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development from an estimated 3 million Commercial Sex Workers in India, almost half are children and most of them girls. Establishing social and legal mechanisms by which trafficking and prostitution of minor girls can be stopped is the call of the hour. Over the years, I have seen that trafficking of young girls is on the rise. There is a growing demand for them because of blind traditional beliefs that sex with a young virgin can cure people of certain ailments. This perverse demand needs to end.
As a society we must support the work of those who work relentlessly to fight against impunity of offenders of the trafficking and prostitution nexus in India. Free a Girl India’s stance of rescuing girls who are forced into prostitution and taking necessary steps to help them overcome their trauma is one big step towards fighting injustice done to these girls. The School for Justice is a unique and innovative program of Free a Girl India that is helping girls, who were once victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, to study law at deemed universities and become lawyers and public prosecutors. This program educates them to demand justice for themselves and for those who suffer similar atrocities and have been denied justice. It empowers them to fight the system of injustice from within to be the change-makers in the judicial system. The School for Justice Program is steadily giving impetus to tangible success stories and building stronger justice mechanisms through these girls and for these girls. The School for Justice empowers them to be a voice against injustice and help others fight against injustice too.
I urge you to voice your support, today and every day, to the School for Justice students as they strive to become lawyers and fight injustice. As a committed women and child rights activist, I ask the Indian society to take a firm stand against injustice against our own girls. It is in our hands to create an India where justice is served to those who need it the most.
-Shikha Phillips, CEO/Executive Director, Free a Girl India