Many people have asked me over the last few months what exactly I will be doing in Ghana, and while I can’t be too specific, hopefully this post will shed some light on IJM’s model, and how I fit into it. In my previous post, which can be found here, I discussed the problem of violence faced by the poor in the developing world. In this post I want to focus on how IJM seeks to address those problems. IJM’s vision statement is: to rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible. IJM’s mission is to protect the poor from violence, and is accomplished through four distinct avenues.
- Rescuing victims – IJM partners with local law enforcement to go into brothels, slave facilities, and other dark places to rescue victims.
- Bringing Criminals to Justice – IJM relentlessly pursues justice in courts. IJM ensures that traffickers, slave owners, rapists, and other criminals are brought to justice.
- Restoring Survivors – IJM helps survivors of violence rebuild their lives. IJM creates individual plans to help meet each survivor’s specific needs, including trauma counseling, job skills training or education.
- Strengthening Justice Systems – IJM provides training and support to police, judges, prosecutors, and justice system authorities. IJM advocates for reforms that will keep the poor safe from being victimized.
It is IJM’s interaction with indigenous justice systems that I wish to focus on the most.
Justice System Transformation
IJM does not stop at rescuing individuals after they have been abused. The ultimate goal of IJM is to prevent violence from happening to the poor in the first place. IJM has created a unique model for maximum-impact, long-term change through what is called Justice System Transformation. IJM endeavors to eliminate the causes of injustice in communities by partnering with local governments and communities to meet both immediate and long-term needs. Justice System Transformation has three phases.
Phase 1: Collaborative Casework – IJM partners with local authorities to rescue individual victims of a specific crime, bring those criminals to justice and restore the survivors. As IJM takes on individual cases, IJM also works to strengthen the justice system. Collaborative Casework gives IJM the opportunity to:
Provide hands-on mentoring and training that strengthens the justice system.
Discover the specific problems in the justice system that leave the poor vulnerable to violence.
Phase 2: System Reform – IJM continues Collaborative Casework and launches intense, collaborative projects that aim to dramatically improve the justice system’s response to the targeted crime. IJM uses what it has learned through scores of individual cases to design projects that will help fix what is most broken in the justice system. At the end of Phase 2, the goal is to demonstrate that:
The justice system’s ability to protect vulnerable people from the targeted crime has substantially improved.
Those improvements have contributed to a reduction in the prevalence of the crime.
Phase 3: Sustain Gains – IJM monitors and evaluates results and continues to support its local government partners. The justice system can now be counted on to effectively protect poor people from the targeted form of violence.
Types of Casework IJM engages in:
- Forced Labor Slavery uses deception, threats or violence to coerce someone to work for little to no pay. Although slavery has been outlawed in nearly every country, millions of men, women and children are working as slaves in brick kilns, rice mills, garment factories, fishing operations and many other industries.
- Police Abuse of Power- Hundreds of millions of poor people in the developing world are abused by corrupt police who extort bribes and brutalize innocent citizens, or are held in abusive pre-trial detention. In many places in the developing world, rather than teach their children to run to the police if they are in trouble, parents must teach them to rn from the police to stay safe from harm.
- Sexual Violence is a truly global epidemic that leaves millions around the world terrified in their homes, schools and neighborhoods. Sexual violence can include rape, molestation and other forms of sexual abuse. Although anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, this form of violence most frequently impacts women and girls – and impoverished women and girls are particularly vulnerable.
- Property grabbing- For poor families, a house and a small patch of land are often their only source of shelter, food and desperately needed income. But for many people in poverty, particularly widowed women and orphaned children, even this fragile foundation is not safe. Powerful relatives or neighbors often steal their meager property with violence or lies, and fear no consequences.
- Sex Trafficking is a form of modern slavery in which someone coerces another person into commercial sex or exploits a child in the commercial sex trade. Simply, it is sexual violence as a business. The nightmare of forced prostitution thrives when law enforcement cannot or does not protect vulnerable children and women.
- Citizenship RIghts Abuse- Worldwide, an estimated 12 million people are stateless, people who hold no citizenship of any kind. No citizenship means no country claims you. No justice system protects you. There are no guarantees your children will get to go to school or you will be able to find a job that pays a fair wage.
Collaborative Casework a Case Study
So, how does collaborative casework play out practically? In 2006 the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation gave IJM the financial resources to see if its model could produce quantifiable outcomes. The project was to take place in Cebu City, the second largest metropolitan area in the Philippines. Cebu City has approximately 2 million residents, 40% of which live in poverty. The category of violence that the poor were subjected to was the commercial exploitation of children.
The project was given a four-year time frame with two goals in mind. The first goal was to transform the performance of local law enforcement in fighting the sex trafficking of minors. The second goal was to demonstrate to outside auditors a measurable 20% reduction in the availability of children in the commercial sex trade.
To demonstrate quantifiable changes a baseline must first be established. The money for a baseline study was made available by the Gates Foundation. The IJM team began by identifying the stakeholders that would play a role in improving the performance of law enforcement and in reducing the exploitation of the children living in Cebu. The team then began collaboratively doing cases alongside local authorities and stakeholders. This helped the team identify problems in the system that contributed to the substandard performance of law enforcement. After these issues were identified, they were ultimately remedied to some degree. What were the results?
After the four year time frame was completed, the results were incredible. With respect to the first goal of the project: the team had increased local law enforcement’s rescue of sex trafficking victims by 1,000%. This included the rescue of over 250 confirmed victims of trafficking. Additionally, criminal charges were leveled at over 100 suspected sex traffickers. More importantly, the project’s second goal bore remarkable fruit. Outside auditors confirmed that there had been a 79% reduction in the availability of children in the commercial sex trade. This was nearly four times larger than the modest 20% goal the project had begun with. The study, its methodology, and results may be found here: http://www.ijm.org/projectlantern.
This is a real world example of how collaborative casework (phase 1 of the IJM model) leads to system reform (phase 2). The final phase is to sustain gains, essentially once a justice system is functioning fully, to support the local government partners as they enforce the law. It is important to note here, that IJM does not seek to do this work in spite of local governments, but to do the work in collaboration with them. This ultimately leads to long-term sustainable justice system transformation.
This has really been a macro-level view of what IJM does. I know that some of you might have been curious about what my day to day life will look like while I’m in Ghana. Yet, while I would love to describe it, the simple truth is I have no idea what my day to day life will look like. After I get settled in Accra, I am sure I would be able to supply some information, although I am unsure about how much. Rest assured dear reader, that I will endeavor to inform you of whatever I can. But for now, the view from 30,000 feet will have to suffice.
Should you desire to invest in the work I’ll be doing with IJM, there are two ways you can support me financially during my fellowship, which I am doing pro bono. Should you wish to make a tax-deductible donation, please make your check out to “Lasting Hope, Inc.” and put my name in the memo line. You can mail your check to:
Lasting Hope, Inc.
C/O Paul and Cathy Crafton
1971 McCollum Pkwy. NW
The second option is to make a donation through my GoFundMe campaign. Please feel free to share this information, and this post, with anyone you think may be interested in following my journey.