Justice Is Contagious
February 9, 2023

Justice is Contagious

By Thomas Kincaid, Program Officer

In honor of Bonded Labor Abolition Day in Tamil Nadu on February 9th, The Rees-Jones Foundation wanted to highlight the work of our grantees in India who work every day to alleviate and prevent human trafficking, bonded labor, and child exploitation. Every day international partners of The Rees-Jones Foundation engage in the crucial tasks of: rescuing and restoring victims of human trafficking, bonded labor, and child sexual exploitation; supporting the prosecution of perpetrators; and working for justice system strengthening. The Foundation continues to marvel at their energy, dedication, creativity, and ability as they move amidst tremendous circumstances and sometimes very real danger.

Today, The Foundation’s grantees in India and Uganda hold two realities. Reality 1: They are deeply encouraged by incredible results in their respective areas of work. There are former hot spots of child sexual exploitation in Mumbai, for example, where minors are no longer found. There are also vibrant whole communities of recovered individuals raising their freed children. What’s more? In 2014, an estimated 29.9% of those in manual labor were in forced bonded labor across Tamil Nadu, but in 2021, collaboration between key nonprofits and the government of India had decreased bondage to 5.4%. A continent away in Uganda, human trafficking prosecutions over the past two years are also up a staggering 447% (with over 537 prosecutions in 2021) proving the effectiveness of justice efforts.

As we move into 2023, all of The Foundation’s grantees are on strong footing to expand their impact to new regions through larger strategies. Given their success so far, the team is excited about what lies ahead.

Simultaneously, the second reality held by partners in this work involves the weight of how much suffering continues. Each and every case of bonded labor, child sexual exploitation, and human trafficking is an unimaginable personal tragedy for the individuals involved, for their families, and for their communities. One of The Foundation’s grantees annually interdicts 800 children bound for various forms of bonded labor from train and bus stations in one major city. That’s more than two every day—from one pair of stations.

There’s been much progress; and there’s much more still to do.

In the midst of so much suffering, how do those in the work press forward and have hope? The key is to remember that in a world already saved by Jesus, big problems have already received their biggest solution in Him. The arc of the moral universe is indeed bent toward justice. Confident in that reality, we need not be so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem that we miss the moments of God’s provision that come in each rescue and each legal victory.

The Rees-Jones Foundation team was told recently of one survivor who’d been rescued in his 50s, alongside his whole community, from agricultural labor. The men he used to be bonded to still make their presence continually known to this man and his family to instill fear. When the man was asked by our partner, “do you feel safe now?” he responded “we are safe because you have made us stubborn.”

That justice-bent arc won’t bend back.

Another survivor recently shared with our partner about her commitment to making sure her children received the education she could never have received. After her, another woman spoke with pride in her family’s home as she showed off her new gas burner. Another story shared with The Foundation told us of a group of survivors now engaged in the work of restoration for newly rescued persons and advocacy for government engagement.

These are a few of the stories of the tens of thousands of people who have been freed through this work. The truth is justice is contagious—these individual victories are part of the strategy to solve the big problem and bring more freedom to more people.

On this day, The Rees-Jones Foundation celebrates the great work of its international partners, and we pray and work for the day when all are free.

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