Skip to content

Press Release: Report Identifies Legal Strategies to Drive the Fight against Modern Slavery in India

Press release
April 27, 2015

MUMBAI, INDIA (27 April 2015)–The Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Freedom Fund have launched a new report to drive action against modern slavery in India.

The first of its kind, Putting Justice First: Legal Strategies to Combat Human Trafficking in India highlights the legal challenges faced by victims of human trafficking and modern slavery in India and is based on extensive research gathered with the support of anti-trafficking organisations, lawyers, and survivors of human trafficking. The report aims to drive practical and innovative strategies to combat the crime, to ensure victims receive the right support, and to strengthen the level of prosecutions across the country.

“Almost half of the world’s slaves live in India, of which millions are children caught in forced labour,” said Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Most victims don’t even know they have been enslaved and have no idea how to seek help. This report highlights how strengthening the rule of law – and more essentially, the implementation of the law – is crucial to putting the business of human trafficking out of business,” she added.

According to the International Labour Organisation, human trafficking is a global industry worth 150 billion dollars a year. Despite being illegal, forced and bonded labour, commercial sexual exploitation and child labour continue to remain widespread across India. The country is home to over 14 million modern slaves.

“Trafficking is a massively profitable criminal enterprise, so we need to use the law and the courts more effectively to fight it,” said Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund. “This report sets out a roadmap on how that can be done. The next step is to identify partners, including donors interested in funding this work and lawyers to provide pro bono counsel, to help implement and scale the strategies set out in the study, and to ensure that justice is at the centre of recovery for victims of trafficking.”

Putting Justice First identifies a number of significant impediments within the Indian legal system that are preventing trafficking trials from taking place. Among them are lack of protection for the victims and their families, and poor investigation and persistent confusion related to the correct applicability of existing laws.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Freedom Fund are issuing a call to action to potential funders to support the implementation of the key recommendations in the report:

  • Train community members as paralegals to provide initial legal support and counselling to victims, especially in the rural communities.
  • Provide trafficking survivors with practical and legal support for the duration of their legal proceedings, which includes ensuring physical safety, transportation for pursing legal cases, and help accessing economic entitlements.
  • Build effective partnerships between legal firms and NGOs that are assisting survivors. Legal firms can serve as a critical resource to NGO staff preparing case filings on behalf of survivors.
  • Provide practical information and support to media professionals to increase coverage on modern slavery. Media articles have been used to initiate writ petitions at court, to apply public pressure when authorities are unresponsive, and to increase awareness of the incidence and effects of trafficking and slavery in India. Timely media articles have helped to obtain strong orders from judges in many cases.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation and the Freedom Fund are hosting an event in Mumbai on May 5 to present the findings of the report and to engage with prospective partners. For more information on the event and how to attend, please contact Asma Kathiwalla at [email protected].

About the Thomson Reuters Foundation
The Thomson Reuters Foundation stands for free, independent journalism, human rights, women’s empowerment, and the rule of law. We expose corruption worldwide and play a leading role in the global fight against human trafficking. We use the skills, values, and expertise of Thomson Reuters to run programmes that trigger real change and empower people around the world, including free legal assistance, journalism and media training, coverage of the world’s under-reported stories, and the Trust Women Conference.

About the Freedom Fund
The Freedom Fund is a new philanthropic initiative designed to bring much-needed financial resources and strategic focus to the fight against modern slavery. With an expert team and global perspective, the Freedom Fund aims to raise $100 million for smart anti-slavery investments in the countries and sectors where it is most needed.


The Freedom Fund
Ranya Alkadamani
[email protected]

Thomson Reuters Foundation
Megan Dold
[email protected]

Written by
The Freedom Fund