Yesterday, the Kolkata edition of The Times of India newspaper featured a story about another small victory in the fight against human trafficking. Six years after her arrest, a brothel madam was convicted of human trafficking and sentenced to “seven years rigorous imprisonment” — something that is supposedly akin to hard labor under tough conditions. Although it took a long time, the victim finally had her day in court and justice prevailed.
The news account is instructive because it describes the methods that traffickers use to trap and subdue their victims. The process generally starts with deception. Many of the stories about sex trafficking victims begin with an account of how they were deceived and lured away from their homes by people they trusted.
Jesus said that the devil “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). And, those in league with the devil know how to cleverly use lies and deception. Isaiah 32:7 states, “As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil; he plans wicked schemes to ruin the poor with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is right.”
According to the victim, the brothel madam “turned up at her home in a poverty-ridden village in North Bengal and promised her a job in Kolkata.” However, once she arrived in Kolkata, the woman forced her young victim to work in Sonagachhi, the largest red-light district in Kolkata. “She forced me to serve customers,” the victim told the judge, “and do bad work.”
In 2007, the Kolkata police, with the assistance of International Justice Mission, raided the brothel where the young woman was forced to work. They rescued her and arrested the brothel’s madam, owner, and manager. The pregnant young victim was placed in an aftercare home where she later gave birth to a boy. She also received counseling and vocational training and now works for a boutique that employs trafficking victims.
In India, where there is such a backlog of cases before the courts, it can take years before a case is brought to trial. But, six years being arrested for forcing a young village girl to work in filthy brothel, the woman responsible was finally held accountable for her deeds. John Gibson (1780-1853), a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice, said, “The millstones of justice turn exceedingly slow, but grind exceedingly fine.”
I was so happy to read this story because the Kingsland women who have served on our justice initiatives to Kolkata know this young lady and her little boy. She is a reminder to us of why we are engaged in the fight against human trafficking and why we invest in aftercare initiatives in Kolkata and beyond.
We are motivated to do something about the issue of human trafficking because the plight of the oppressed is something that breaks God’s heart. Isaiah 58:6 says, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”
May we continue to embrace God’s passion to reach the lost, rescue the oppressed, care for the suffering, and to speak on behalf of those who have no voice. And may we continue to work toward the day when “man who is of the earth may cause terror no more” (Ps. 10:18) in the lives of young girls.