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Legal Aid Clinic for victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation

“This Legal Aid Clinic is one of the best looking ones in Maharashtra,” said Honorable Judge Kher, Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), Thane. “I would like for this to become the ideal Legal Aid Clinic for victims of Sex Trafficking.”

The second such clinic to be established by a partnership between the DLSA and IJM, the Thane Legal Aid Clinic was inaugurated by Judge Kher on 31 January 2017. The welcoming approach of the clinic with its two cabins which ensure that victims can talk over their cases privately with their lawyers, was much appreciated.

Serving as easy-access locations for victims needing support and guidance in their legal cases, these legal aid clinics will empower victims to take control of their cases and learn about the assistance they are entitled to. “I have told my staff at the DLSA to always help and support IJM staff as they endeavor to support victims of human trafficking," said Judge Kher.

The Maharashtra State Legal Service Authority issued a notification to all DLSAs across the State to institute the clinics with immediate effect, in order to implement the National Legal Services Authority Scheme of 2015. In addition to legal assistance, the scheme grants victims of human trafficking access to schemes for food security, social security, pension and education.

“It is necessary that more Legal Aid Clinics are established and equipped in and around Maharashtra to serve the victims of Human Trafficking. These clinics help in making the DLSA Schemes easily accessible,” said Michael Yangad, IJM’s Director of Operations, Mumbai.

The Legal Aid Clinic will be attended by advocates who are enrolled and appointed by the DLSA. “Lawyers attending at the clinic will build awareness in the community on legal services available for victims of trafficking. Victims will be encouraged to seek legal recourse and take benefit of the schemes,” said Britto Michael Jothi, an advocate appointed by the DLSA Thane to serve at the Legal Aid Clinic.

Since it’s inauguration in January, the Legal Aid Clinic in Thane has supported minor survivors of sex trafficking to achieve victim compensation through the Maharashtra Government’s Manodhairya Scheme. Additionally, the clinic has conducted awareness campaigns on the schemes offered by the DLSA in vulnerable communities and shelter homes in the area.