My parents are fisherfolk in South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. They worked very hard to send my siblings and me to school. A local shopkeeper who was aware of how poor we were decided to take advantage of our situation. I had gone to his shop to recharge my phone when he told me he knew someone looking for a maidservant, and who would pay a good salary. We travelled to Jamtala, where he introduced me to a woman who took me to Delhi and handed me over to a brothel.
Meanwhile, my family registered a missing complaint at a local police station, but gave up when the police failed to trace me. They thought they would never see me again. For three years, I was raped and tortured. I was finally rescued by the police and a human rights organisation, Goranbose Gram Bikash Kendra (GGBK), and returned home.
My family was shocked to find that I had been prostituted. The social worker from GGBK visited my home regularly and counselled each of my family members to help them deal with the stigma. When I was in the brothel, I was under extreme psychological trauma. I started cutting myself to deal with it. I also became suicidal and was addicted to alcohol. They diagnosed me with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and I had to undergo treatment.
I eventually decided to start farming and received business training. As part of Bandhan Mukti, a support group for trafficked women, I have started getting involved in various anti-trafficking activities.
I dream of becoming a successful businesswoman and supporting my family, but also want to continue fighting for criminal prosecution of my traffickers.
Our country’s laws in this matter are complicated and getting justice from the courts is difficult. We realise that the law needs to be more survivor-centric; that may be more effective in getting traffickers convicted.
We – at Bandhan Mukti – have formed a national forum at the Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT) to support the Government of India to improve the law and have a common law for all forms of human trafficking, better implement policies for rehabilitation, and prevent human trafficking.
(As told to Diya Koshy George)