Most of us live without the constant fear of violence. Whilst it may not be a conscious realisation, we live our lives knowing that we are safe and protected and that we have good law enforcement which, on the majority of occasions, will successfully protect us from abuse.
But this is not true for everyone.
Throughout the developing world, fear of violence is part of everyday life for the poor. It’s as much a part of poverty as hunger, disease or homelessness and is devastating the developing world. It is only more difficult to see. Without effective justice systems to protect them from violence, the world’s poor live in a state of fear.
The poorest are so vulnerable because their justice systems – police, courts and laws – don’t protect them from violent people. While their wealthier neighbours can pay for security guards, high walls and safe homes, the poor cannot. The threat of violence is relentless and pervasive; the poor live with a constant threat of being raped, robbed, assaulted or exploited.
For the poor, the risk of violence is part of their every day.
Gender violence kills and disables more women and girls than cancer, traffic accidents, malaria and war combined – World Health Organisation
With incomes for the global poor hovering around $1-$2 a day, the average person cannot hope to pay legal fees – ILO
Critically, this violence is not only destroying individual lives, but undermining the world’s efforts to end poverty.
In nearly 20 communities throughout the developing world, International Justice Mission (IJM) fights everyday violence against the poor. Specifically, we focus on addressing: sex trafficking; sexual violence; slavery; police abuse of power; property grabbing; and citizenship rights abuse.
We protect the poor from such violence by partnering with local authorities to:
Bring criminals to justice
Strengthen justice systems
Raped by three men when she was 13, Griselda finally received justice after five years of IJM’s support and is now thriving as she speaks up on behalf of other survivors.
After languishing in prison for 18 months for a crime he hadn’t committed, and enduring another 18 months of uncertainty after he was released on bail pending an appeal of the wrongful conviction, Michael’s name was finally cleared and he was a free man once again.
Charito* was rescued from sex trafficking when she was 14 years old. With the conviction of her trafficker secured, Charito said, "The justice I've been looking for, for almost 8 years ... now I have it."
But we don’t stop at rescuing people who have been abused. Our ultimate goal is to prevent the violence from happening in the first place. All of our work is designed to drive maximum-impact, long-term transformation that will make the poor safe enough to thrive.
Cebu, the Philippines: After four years of IJM casework, independent researchers found a 79% decrease in the availability of children being sold for sex in Metro Cebu, the Philippines.
Cambodia: In the early 2000s, several research studies in Cambodia found that between 15-30% of those prostituted were minors. Today, IJM’s research and investigation shows that the prevalence of minors in sex establishments in Cambodia’s 3 largest cities is down to 8.16% - and the prevalence of minors under 15 is now below 1%.
Throughout the world, IJM is fuelling the global justice movement by drawing the world’s attention to everyday violence, influencing leaders to become champions for protecting the poor and rallying all people of good will to the fight.
Here in the UK, we are applying IJM’s unique global experience to strengthen the UK justice system and encourage the UK – including the government, the Church and a new generation – to lead the way in addressing everyday violence, both globally and locally.
You are encouraged to join us at the Friends Meeting House, Manchester on Tuesday 23rd September for the Labour Party Conference Prayer Breakfast, led by IJM. Learn more about everyday violence, pray for an end to this hidden plague and be inspired to take up the call for justice.
*A pseudonym has been used for the protection of this IJM client.