Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Bachpan Bachao Andolan v. Union of India & Others Supreme Court of India (2011)

Trafficking in persons

Children’s’ rights, child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, sexual abuse. Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a non-governmental organization in India submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of India to take action against the use of child performers in India’s traveling circuses. A study found that children were being trafficked from Nepal or taken from their homes, exploited as child laborers in these circuses, and subjected to mental, physical, and sexual abuse. In recognition that this practice was in violation of child labor laws and regulations on a child’s right to an education, among other national and international statutes, the Supreme Court gave an order to prohibit the employment of children in circuses, raid circuses to free children, and establish rehabilitation schemes for the child victims. This case is an important victory for children’s rights in India, where parents often sell their children to work at a young age, and also displays the willingness of the Supreme Court of India to hear petitions from NGOs, offering an important avenue for human rights reform.



Doe v. Penzato United States District Court for the Northern District of California (2011)

Sexual violence and rape, Trafficking in persons

Plaintiff Jane Doe (“Doe”) filed a lawsuit under a pseudonym and alleged 23 causes of action including human trafficking, sexual battery, forced labor and involuntary servitude against Defendants Mr. and Mrs. Penzato. Mrs. Penzato had offered Doe $1,500 per month, free room and board, and transportation to the United States in exchange for child care and housekeeping services. Doe accepted the offer and moved to San Francisco, California. Doe alleged that during her employment Defendants physically assaulted her, sexually molested her, threatened her with cancellation of her visa, and abused or exploited her in various other ways. She eventually left the Penzatos’ household and moved to a transitional housing residence for female victims of violence. Doe filed a motion for a protective order and requested permission to proceed with the lawsuit under a pseudonym. Doe argued that this was necessary to avoid additional psychological trauma due to the sensitive and personal nature of her claims. Further, she argued that the use of a pseudonym would help maintain the safety and anonymity of her fellow transitional housing residents. Defendants argued that because they were publically accused of sexual abuse, human trafficking, and forced labor, Doe should also be publicly exposed. Defendants also argued that they would be prejudiced by the extra effort they would have to take to keep her identity a secret. The court granted Doe’s motion and allowed her to proceed under a pseudonym, holding that Doe’s need to remain anonymous outweighed Defendants’ arguments and the public’s interest in knowing her identity. The court noted the strong interest in protecting sexual assault victims’ identities—to encourage them to report the assaults without fear of being stigmatized as a sexual assault victim.