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2002 (Narrative date)

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day there were nearly 8 million people living in modern slavery in India. The GSI 2018 reports an emerging trend in northeast India where organised trafficking syndicates operate along the open and unmanned international borders, duping or coercing young girls seeking employment outside their local area in to forced sexual exploitation. Many women and girls are lured with the promise of a good job but then forced in to sex work, with a 'conditioning' period involving violence, threats, debt bondage and rape. 

Shyama was 15 years old when she and her younger sister were sent to work in a brothel. They did not receive a salary and were forced to provide sexual services to men under the threat of violence.  

I was 15 years old and my little sister was 13 years old when mashi sent us to the brothel. Before starting work, she got us a Copper-T, so that we would not become pregnant. My sister and I were sent to different places but we were sometimes brought together to meet our mother at mashi's house. I was in Wadibondor. I don't know how much I earned the first year as mashi kept my income. The second year, I got 3,000 rupees per month, which I gave to my mother. My sister did the same.

I started work at an age when girls are married, so I could cope. But my little sister was too young. I did not like this. Sometimes she cried, I felt very sad but there was nothing I could do.

We were 60 girls in one building. Quite a few were Nepali. Under one malkeen, there were 10 girls. Most days, I did 6 to 7 men, sometimes I did more. Clients were Pakistani, Saudi, Kuwaiti and Indian. At first, I did not like it, and then it was O.K. If a girl refused to work, she was beaten. We could not go out. We were prisoners. Customers paid the malkeen and after a customer left we were searched in case we hid some money. It was not possible to run away. But even if we could, where would I have gone? My mother was in this line, I was the eldest of the family and I felt responsible for my brothers and sisters. I had to help my mother.


Narrative located in the report ‘Beyond Boundaries: A Critical Look at Women Labour Migration and the Trafficking Within’ by Thérèse Blanchet provided courtesy of The Child Protection Hub