SCHOOL FOR JUSTICE; A ‘legal’ fight to curb child prostitution

Mumbai, April 7 2017, 15.00 IST — An estimated 1.2 million children are pushed into the abyss of forced prostitution in India – which means that India has the largest amount of child prostitutes in the world. Out of those 1.2 million cases, only 55 legal cases led to convictions in 2015. To counter this impunity, today the Free a Girl Movement, a coalition of local organisations dedicated to rescue girls from forced prostitution, announces the opening of the world’s first School for Justice – an educational institution. 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 Schoolfor Justice is both a school and an education programme for girls from all schoollevels to offer the support, tuition and mentoring that they need to reachuniversity level. Once at that level they will study to get to their Bachelorsin Law – to ultimately persuade the government to become Public Prosecutorswith the power and determination to leverage India’s legal system to seekjustice. The School for Justice is working with one of India’s most respectedlaw universities to offer this unique programme.

In India,many underage girls end up working in brothels against their will; some arebarely seven years of age. They are tortured until they agree to cooperate withthe offender. These victims are forced to have sex, sometimes with 20 differentmen each day.

Bollywoodactor and activist Mallika Sherawat, who is an ambassador of Free a GirlMovement, has extended her full support and commitment for The School forJustice.

“Underagegirls forced into prostitution is a problem that we simply can’t ignore anylonger. It’s the organised and systematic rape of young girls, happening on amass scale. Girls, sometimes as young as 7 or 8, are forced into this life. Byfreeing the girls, we’re not changing the system that allows this crime tohappen. To break this cycle, we will attack a key factor: the fact that theperpetrators are not being punished. Because they are not punished, they cancontinue with their crimes. I ask you to support the School for Justice to helpthe victims turn their anger at this injustice into a force for good – and afurious determination to put everyone involved in child prostitution behindbars.” said Mallika Sherawat, actor and ambassador.

“The Schoolfor Justice is an ambitious initiative - the class of 2017 is just the firststep in our plan. We want to cultivate a culture that punishes the criminals behindchild prostitution by educating and empowering the victims to become lawyerswith the legal power to seek justice. We appeal to all of India to get behindThe School for Justice and support our cause – as the girls can’t do thisalone. Ultimately we want governmental support to seek law reforms to make apositive change in our country in this regard” said Francis Gracias, CEO andspokesperson, Free a Girl Movement.

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