Kyle and Erica are in-house counsels who decided to do a fellowship with IJM after practicing law in the DC area. They’ll be heading home in January and until recently they hadn’t seen much fruit from their labor. At the tail end of October we all shared in a sweet victory and were overwhelmed that justice was granted for the oppressed. Hear from Kyle:
“Today I visited a small court about three hours from my office with my colleague, an advocate. The judge had told us he would pronounce judgment today; we hoped it would actually happen. And it did. The court found all defendants in three separate cases guilty and sentenced them each to a year in jail and a fine. This is the first conviction we have seen in our time here, and one of the most important in the history of our office. The realistic threat of prison will transform the community where these crimes were committed. Some of the richest, most powerful and best-connected men in the town have been held responsible for repeatedly exploiting upwards of 40 vulnerable, lower-caste people who could not protect themselves. We hope this begins to chip away at the sense of impunity those with influence feel to violate the laws that are designed to protect those with no influence.”
Bonded labor law was enacted in 1976 and since that time there have only been 1,293 convictions which pales in comparison to the forty million bonded labourers in this country alone. This is why these convictions are paramount for our office! The victims of these cases were violently oppressed, verbally abused, and held captive for several years. When police came to conduct a raid, the owner hid them for fear of being exposed, but after several attempts the laborers were freed; finally they are free from their debt, free from abuse, and free to obtain fair employment elsewhere. In these cases, the victims relinquished their freedom for an advance of Rs. 1000, around 20 bucks, and some have eagerly awaited justice for as long as seven years– at last, justice has been served!
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Isa. 1:17