Over half of Mumbai’s citizens live in oppressive and abusive slum communities. Imagine living with a family of five or more in a tiny one room shelter that has no running water or toilet, in a rat-infested neighborhood where garbage is piled on the streets and open sewers run through the area where your children play. Human traffickers, sexual predators and other criminals thrive in this desperate, unstable environment. Taking advantage of the lack of rule of law, they prey upon the men, women, and children who live there.
JVI is collaborating with local churches, nonprofit organizations, and social enterprises to use the law to protect victims from violence and promote opportunities in these challenging settlements. Together we are bringing a message of hope and practical help to thousands, securing justice for individuals, strengthening local justice organizations, and improving justice systems.
Here are a few examples of our work:
Protecting Minors from Sexual Exploitation
Meet Diya*, an 8 year old girl who lives in one of Mumbai’s slum communities. Coming home one day Diya was pulled into an alley, assaulted, and sexually abused. When JVI heard of her horrific story, we knew we had to help. JVI collaborated with partner organization Prerana to build a case against the perpetrator, gathering evidence and testimonies, and working with prosecutors as the case progressed through the court system. Through these efforts a conviction was secured, putting the assailant behind bars for 10 years. Because of this victory a predator was removed from the community. JVI partners continue to work with Diya, supporting her as she recovers with dignity and the peace of mind that she is safe from her abuser.
Equipping Local Leaders to Improve Their Community
In another slum community, JVI collaborated with ACT, an NGO that works closely with churches serving in Mumbai. Through ACT and a local church, JVI helped the community organize and file a legal petition requesting government assistance in eradicating disease-carrying mosquitoes and closing open sewers to improve sanitation in the community.
As one local pastor explained, “We are thankful for JVI. People were suffering with the mosquito problem and the drainage problem. Sewage was overflowing and children were getting sick and suffering. With JVI’s help we worked together with a group of local women to write letters to the municipal corporation and filed a petition. The government responded. The mosquito problem has been significantly reduced and the drainage problem is gone. People are very happy.”
Improving Justice Systems through Legal Education and Technology
India has many national and local government programs available to assist the poor and marginalized with basic necessities like water, sanitation, housing, education, and job training, helping them secure a foothold toward greater self-reliance. However, navigating through the bureaucratic labyrinth to access these entitlements is often complex and time-consuming, creating a barrier between millions in slum communities who need help and these potentially life-changing legal claims.
To break through this barrier, JVI has created human rights manuals to train local “para-legals” who conduct legal awareness training and provide step-by-step instructions on accessing government entitlements. JVI lawyers provide back-up on cases that require more in-depth legal work or on complex matters affecting large groups, like land rights. To scale up this program further, JVI is collaborating on a pilot program with Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions, a technology company that provides smart phone technology to door-to-door justice workers, enabling them to process large numbers of applications for entitlements. Our hope is that this pilot program will open new doors of opportunity to thousands of families living in slum communities.
Thank you so much for your partnership with us! Together we can continue to bring hope to slum communities in Mumbai and other mega-cities in South Asia.
Recently, during the COVID-19 lockdown in India, JVI and one of its local partners secured orders from the National Human Rights Commission directing local authorities in the state of Uttar Pradesh to free bonded laborers trapped in forced labor slavery
13-year-old Puja* is from the 24 South Parganas district of West Bengal. A few months ago, Puja ran away from home because of abuse from her stepfather. A classmate lured her into dancing by creating a deceptive picture of financial
JVI believes that the pursuit of justice is the shared responsibility of all those with the ability to help. Partnership is at the heart of our work. By partnering, we combine greater skills, innovation and cultural understanding to design justice