Case Studies

Exposing the ugly menace of human trafficking

July 2020 | INDIA

As India emerges as one of the top destinations for human trafficking in South Asia, iProbono joins hands with the Missing Link Trust to support them in their fight against modern-day slavery.

Human trafficking is a heinous crime that exploits the most vulnerable women, men, and children. Among those who are routinely trafficked from India and other South Asian countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, children are often the worst-affected. They are usually forced into sexually exploitative industries like sex tourism, prostitution, child pornography and pedophilia. In India, many children are sent to work in factories or to homes as domestic help, some are forcibly married or forced into begging rackets, and some become victims of organ trafficking. Adoption, militia recruitment and debt release are among other reasons that children are trafficked. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) identified 22,955 victims of trafficking in India in 2016, a major increase from 8,281 victims the previous year. However, the first step towards tackling this menace is to create awareness in communities, followed by measures to empower them.

In 2015, Leena Kejriwal founded the Missing Link Trust (MLT), a non-profit organisation, to spread awareness about human trafficking by combining art and technology in innovative ways. The three pillars of their campaign are innovation, education, and empowerment. They use games, stencil art, murals, interactive digital comics and lead school and community awareness programs to motivate youth to become key catalysts in social transformation. MLT has also started two Women Empowerment Centres in West Bengal where they conduct skills training and create alternate livelihood options for women and young girls. They give women the opportunity to harness their potential and empower them to be financially independent.

Artisans working at MLT’s Women Empowerment Centre

iProbono has provided sustained legal support to MLT through its network of lawyers since 2017 and is proud to contribute to the fight against human trafficking.

While expressing the value of the partnership with iProbono, Leena Kejriwal said: “Missing (Link Trust) started out as an art project, and iProbono’s legal help in building MLT’s work on anti-trafficking has been indispensable. From helping us on intellectual property rights to fighting for the right to protect the identity of one of our survivors, assisting with government applications, and providing support for internal governance. Their presence has been a true enabler, giving us the ability to systematically move ahead in our work to save more missing girls.” Details of some of the projects in which iProbono offered legal assistance to MLT are listed below –

Legal Review and Agreement Drafting

  • In May 2018, MLT reached out to iProbono to review an agreement with a partner organisation to create mural arts in Delhi. A lawyer from iProbono’s community, Adrija Mishra, provided them with the required legal assistance.
  • MLT approached iProbono to review a contract with a film-maker who was making a documentary on their anti-trafficking campaign in July 2018. Our lawyers from Fidus Law Chambers provided them with the required legal support.
  • Lagna Panda supported MLT by reviewing their employment agreement in May 2020.
  • iProbono community lawyers from Mahindra and Mahindra reviewed a ‘Content Hosting and Services’ agreement with Google for them.
  • In August 2020, MLT approached iProbono for legal assistance in drafting a contract for a freelancer. Parinaz Madan from Mahindra and Mahindra drafted this contract within 24 hours.

IP Support

  • iProbono community lawyers from Fidus Law Chambers provided intellectual property support to MLT by drafting replies in some of their trademark applications in July 2018.

Support in the FCRA Registration Process

  • In July 2018, MLT reached out to iProbono for assistance in their FCRA registration process. Ankita Hariramani, from Spice Route Legal provided them with the required legal support.

Legal Advice

  • In July 2019, MLT sought iProbono’s legal advice on whether the identity of a child sexual abuse survivor can be revealed in the documentary film on their anti-trafficking campaign. Our trial court panel lawyer, Faraz Maqbool provided them with the appropriate legal advice.
  • Artisans at two of the Women Empowerment Centres in West Bengal have started making bags. iProbono community lawyers Kim D’Souza and Rebecca Condillac along with the in-house team advised MLT on the process of forming a new entity to retail the bags.
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