A Note From The Editor: In Darling Issue No. 10 we announced our partnership with International Justice Mission (IJM), specifically partnering with their work to eradicate sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic. We’re excited to introduce the sixth in a series of update posts, taking you along and behind-the-scenes for a deeper look at how exactly that is being accomplished. Today we’re reviewing the past year of support with IJM and what they hope to see for the year ahead.
The work of justice would not be possible without people who believe in its worth. At IJM, we’re so grateful for our partnership with Darling Magazine, and for the Darling readers who have been following our updates and walking with us as we collectively seek to bring an end to modern day slavery and human trafficking. Darling’s support of the IJM office in the Dominican Republic—a country where 1 in 10 victims of commercial sexual exploitation are children—has meant freedom and a new life for so many.
In 2015, which represented IJM’s first full year of casework operations in the DR, we witnessed some major milestones. The team won its first conviction against a trafficker, and by the end of the year, seven perpetrators were brought to justice in court.
IJM assisted police in freeing more than 40 survivors from sexual exploitation, including a single rescue operation which brought freedom to 18 trafficking victims and resulted in the arrest of seven accused perpetrators.
But we know that rescue is just the first step in the long walk toward freedom and restoration, and aftercare is a critical part of the process.
Last year, IJM partnered with the Dominican government to remodel a house that will become the nation’s first aftercare shelter dedicated to female trafficking survivors and will help shape the shelter’s aftercare model so that survivors have a safe place to heal from their trauma and build new lives.
Clarisa* is one of our heroes whose story embodies both the heartbreak and the hope IJM has encountered in the Dominican Republic. We shared about her tragic abuse in a Darling update earlier in 2015. But with your help, we were celebrating justice and restoration in her case by the end of the year.
In December, two men were convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually exploiting Clarisa, receiving the maximum sentence allowable under Dominican law. Clarisa was 14 years old at the time, but because of a mental disability, she functions like a younger child. She bravely testified against the two men who abused her, and their convictions sent the message to other potential perpetrators that injustice will not be tolerated.
… their convictions sent the message to other potential perpetrators that injustice will not be tolerated.
Today, Clarisa is going to school and receiving the medical care she needs at a local aftercare home. She is moving toward a future where she will be less vulnerable. And as IJM continues to come alongside police, prosecutors and social services, her city will be a safer place for other girls like her.
As we look towards what 2016 will bring in the fight for freedom, we can sense a stirring, a groundswell rising up against injustice in the Dominican Republic, and around the world.
Together, we will see slavery’s end.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your steadfast support.
Image via Lily Glass