India #17

Taipei Airport, Thursday, August 30, 5:57 pm

We’re one step closer on our long journey home. It’s starting to get crazy thinking about re-adjusting to the time difference. Hayley and I got about 3 hours of sleep at the Y and about 3 on the plane from Mumbai, and I’m feeling pretty good; but it’s 3 am at home. I’m sure I won’t stay awake all the way, but if I sleep too much, I might not sleep after we get home.

Our tickets are confirmed, but they switched us to go through San Francisco. We get home several hours later that way, but better than not getting home until the next day.

Yesterday we did end up going to IJM, which really was great. I’ve been impressed with their work for some time, but seeing it face to face and hearing the stories always makes it more real.

IJM has several parts to its work. In Mumbai, their focus is on human trafficking for the sex trade, specifically working to help minors. One wing is their investigative branch. They do research and document where they see minors serving in brothels, an then work with the police, presenting the evidence and aiming toward a raid. Working with the police is necessary but difficult, because the police don’t have a good name in court. And, they’ve discovered that reputation is justified. The police officers want to falsify reports to help the prosecution.

IJM works to find Indian citizens who serve as observers for the police raids. These people serve as witnesses later in trial (up to a year later), and also work with (battle with) the police to make the original report as accurate as possible. Being an observer is obviously a dangerous job, and it’s difficult to find people to do it. Over the last year, it’s gotten easier as IJM is beginning to win convictions, but still a matter for prayer.

The legal branch of IJM has been carefully researching Indian law to help assist the prosecution. Everything is a battle including simply documenting the age of the minors. Often the brothel owners and pimps bribe doctors to verify the victims falsely as adults. They work with the police all the way through to improve the chances of conviction, to help write legal briefs, work to deny bail, everything.

IJM has an after-care branch, which exists to assist the girls and women who are rescued. Because they’ve been told the police will arrest and then rape them, the girls often say they were willing prostitutes and try to return to the brothels. Non-minors can only be detained for 21 days, and then they often return. But the minors and many of the adults receive counseling and rehabilitation and eventually job training. We all purchased necklaces and paintings and other crafts which were created by women rescued from brothels. It’s great to see that they are able to earn money to support themselves, and we dreamed of importing and selling their work in Newberg.

Finally, they have an administrative branch to keep the office functioning. Interns sometimes come from the states to work. We were totally impressed!

The rest of the day was just relaxing, and now we’re all longing to be home. I’m going to enjoy having faces and names to pray for!

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