Attorneys Who Free Sex Slaves and Mandate Change
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Significant Lives versus Successful Lives: Attorneys Who Free Sex Slaves and Mandate Change

Jyoti, an impoverished 14-year-old girl, worked as a day laborer in a brick kiln in order to help her family out financially. However, the family’s debts were growing, and in order to help pay off the moneylenders, Jyoti’s struggling father agreed to marry her to a 30-something man in exchange for a large dowry. Jyoti refused and ran away to another village to work as a domestic servant. After earning a bit of money, she decided it was time to return to her family.

Traveling alone, Jyoti was approached and befriended by four women who convinced her to board a train with them that would take her back to her home. When the train did not stop at the scheduled time, Jyoti grew agitated. The women assured her that everything was fine and gave her tea to calm her. Three days later, Jyoti woke up in a brothel far from home, where she was told that she was owned by a brothel keeper and would be forced to have sex with customers. Jyoti, who was a virgin, refused; she faced more than 50 separate assaults with sticks, plastic water pipes, and electrical cords.


Jyoti managed to resist for two months–until the brothel keeper had had enough. Eager to get a “high price” for her virginity, the brothel keeper sold Jyoti to her first customer for $200. After being beaten for refusing the customer’s sexual advances, the terrified young girl was pushed into a mirror, which cracked, cutting deeply into her face and chin. Jyoti continued to resist despite her injuries, but the customer demanded service. After sexually assaulting her, the customer tipped Jyoti $22, which she threw at the brothel keeper.

After this experience, Jyoti continued to hope for escape, always looking for a way out. She even went so far as to ask her customers to help, but it was to no avail. Outwardly, she was forced to comply, working every day from noon until 4:00 a.m. without a day off. Jyoti was forced to have sex with an average of 25 different men per day for three years (a total of approximately 15,000 customers), usually without condoms. When Jyoti and the other girls didn’t adhere to the brothel keeper’s demands, they were injected with an unknown drug used to control them. Brutalized, scared, and imprisoned, Jyoti needed rescuing.

*          *          *          *

Sean Litton, 38 and a graduate of Notre Dame Law School, wasn’t always a professional human rights lawyer and advocate for the poor. Six years ago, he made a bold move. He decided to set aside his six-figure salary at Kirkland & Ellis and his comfortable Washington, DC, lifestyle and relocate his family to the Philippines. There, he took on a position as the head of the Southeast Asian office of the International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights organization whose mission is to “rescue victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery, and oppression.”

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Consisting of a “multi-national team of lawyers and law enforcement professionals and legal staff,” IJM works on a case-by-case basis, “conducting criminal investigations and collecting evidence to rescue victims and bring perpetrators to justice.”




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