From prostitution to prosecution: the world’s first School for Justice opens in India – taking underage girls out of India’s brothels and into the courts of law.
Mumbai, 16.00 IST, 11.30 GMT, 12.30 CET
Today Free a Girl India announces the world’s first School for Justice – an educational institution opening in India on April 6, 2017. The School for Justice has a bold aim: to fight the injustice of child prostitution by educating girls rescued from child prostitution to become lawyers and prosecutors with the power to prosecute the criminals that once owned them.
The School for Justice is both a school and an education programme for girls from all school levels to offer the support, tuition and mentoring that they need to reach university level. Once at that level they will spend five years studying Law to get to their Bachelor of Law – to ultimately lobby the government to become Public Prosecutors with the power and determination to challenge India’s legal system from within. The School for Justice is working with one of India’s most respected law universities to offer this unique programme. The School for Justice opens on April 6 2017 and the programme is poised to expand exponentially in the years to come.
1.2 million children in forced prostitution vs. 55 legal cases
India has the most underage girls in prostitution in the world with an estimated 1.2 million children working in brothels against their will. These girls, some as young as seven years old, are abducted from their homes, sold to human traffickers and often tortured to cooperate. As well as having the highest numbers of child prostitution in the world, India also sees some of the worst conditions, with victims frequently living in inhumane conditions and suffering severe crimes against their human rights - such as being locked up in cages.
Despite the magnitude of the problem, the amount of prosecutions against those involved is incredibly low. In 2015 there were only 55 cases that led to convictions. There is no data on 2016 yet. That’s 1.2 million children in forced prostitution vs. 55 legal cases. Impunity, the fact that the perpetrators are not being punished, is what allows for underage prostitution. In addition to this culture of impunity, a lack of good lawyers and judges with a depth of knowledge around human trafficking and child prostitution impacts the amount of convictions. These factors have motivated the Free a Girl Movement India to take the radical step of opening the School for Justice.
On April 6, 2017 the School for Justice is officially opening with a press conference in Mumbai, featuring Free a Girl India, legal expert Meenakshi Arora, Neela Satyanaryana (the first woman to be appointed as the State Election Commissioner of Maharashtra), ambassador Abhay Mokashi, and Free a Girl spokesperson Tapoti Bhowmick. The girls from the inaugural class of 2017 will be introduced.
Bollywood actor and activist Mallika Sherawat, who is an ambassador of Free a Girl India, shows her support for The School for Justice with a statement pronouncing her commitment.
Notes to editors:
For quotes from the spokespeople, please see below
More about the School for Justice:
The School for Justice is more than a physical school; it’s an entire programme to educate girls that are rescued from child prostitution to become lawyers and prosecutors with the power to prosecute the criminals that once owned them. The school opens on April 6 2017 with the first class of 19 girls.
To find out more about the education programme, please follow this link: http://www.schoolforjustice.com/about/read-more
More about Free a Girl India:
Free a Girl India raises awareness and local resources for its partner organisations. The School for Justice is the first campaign fighting the impunity of offenders of child prostitution. Free a Girl India is an initiative of the international NGO Free a Girl.
The founding sponsor of the School for Justice is the AFAS Foundation. The objective of the AFAS Foundation is to inspire others. Consequently, they are very happy that the Soroptimist Union, the Netherlands has already committed for the class of 2018.
More about the communication behind School For Justice:
The School for Justice is supported by a leading global creative team, who together are delivering a powerful campaign across India. This team is led by advertising agency J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam.
Other partners involved are Fleishman Hillard Mumbai and Fleishman Hillard Netherlands. The videos were directed by Juliette Stevens at New Amsterdam Film Company, the website has been created by This Page and the music via MassiveMusic.
More about J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam
Innovation agency of the year 2016, J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam, is known for their fundamental and innovative ideas such as last year’s multi-grand prix winning campaign for ING Bank, The Next Rembrandt. J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam came up with the idea of the School for Justice. Together with Free a Girl Movement India, J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam has brought the school to life. The School for Justice will officially open on the April 6, 2017 with a press conference in Mumbai.
“Underage girls forced into prostitution is a problem that we simply can’t ignore any longer. It’s the organised and systematic rape of young girls, happening on a mass scale, right here in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities in India. Girls, sometimes as young as 7 or 8, are forced into this life. By freeing the girls, we’re not changing the system that allows this crime to happen. To break this cycle, we will attack a key factor: the fact that the perpetrators are not being punished. Because they are not punished, they can continue with their crimes. I ask you to support the School for Justice to help the victims turn their anger at this injustice into a force for good – and a furious determination to put everyone involved in child prostitution behind bars.”
“The people who did this to me are still out there, doing it to other girls.’
"No one listened to me, I want to be the voice of the girls in the brothels."
“I want to become a lawyer, because I want to fight against child traffickers.”
“We were approached to come up with an ad campaign to raise awareness about child prostitution in India for the Free a Girl Movement. When we found out that hardly any of the criminals responsible for these crimes are punished - in 2015 there were 1.2 million girls in forced prostitution vs. 55 legal cases - we quickly realised that a ‘normal’ ad campaign wasn't going to cut it. We needed to go beyond the brief and think of a radical and more fundamental approach. We came up with the idea of setting up a School for Justice were the victims of child prostitution are taught law, thus empowering them to prosecute the criminals who once owned them. The School for Justice is a very real solution to a problem – as well as a communication idea to raise awareness. We are truly proud and honoured to have built this concept from the ground up.”
Co-Founder and CEO
Free a Girl
J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam