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.
Rakhi was trafficked by a neighbour to Kolkata where she was subjected to forced sexual exploitation.
Barek, a man in his mid-fifties whom I called Nana (grand-father), had a house near ours. He lived in Kolkata much of the time but village people did not know what he did. I used to joke with him (culturally permitted with a nana). Once, I told Nana that I would like to see Kolkata. I said my brother could come with us. Nana agreed to take me but alone and he said I should not mention it to anyone. He told me to meet him at a certain point. I put a few clothes in a bag. My mother saw me and asked what I was doing. I said that I was going to get my clothes ironed.
On the way to Kolkata, I got afraid and asked Barek:
- "You are not going to sell me, are you?" He said:
- "Of course not".
I was not re-assured.
In Kolkata, he took me to Chompa (a malkeen, and Barek’s lover). Then I understood I had been fooled and Nana had lied to me. The first night, I was left alone. The second night, I went to bed with a girl but before I was given a Thumbs Up soda. I don't know what they put in this drink but I fell deeply asleep. While I was asleep, the girl left and a man entered.
The door was bolted from outside. This man used me. I bled a lot. I was not prepared for this. The next day, I felt terrible and the malkeen took me to the doctor. She said it cost her 1,500 rupees. After a few days there, Barek went back to the village.
Two months ago, he came back and wanted to take me to Mumbai. I refused. I told him to take me back home and if he did not do so I would run away. After this, Nana told the malkeen to keep me in a locked room. They sent customers to me and I was not allowed to go out. I was given so many customers everyday, that was terrible. Many dalals were sending men to me. They advertised a new girl. Barek and Chompa together, they managed me.
One day, I could not take it anymore. I went on the balcony and jumped from the 2nd floor. Barek and Chompa immediately took me to a private clinic where I was kept for one month. I wanted to die but I just broke my right leg. Rekha and Barek told me that my treatment cost them 1,00,000 rupees. When I was taken back, they insisted that I work even harder to reimburse my debt. Pressure on me was even worst than before.
I told my sorrow to another girl and she spoke to the Durbar supervisor. The latter contacted the club people. Together, they forced Chompa and Barek to release me. I was then placed under another malkeen as an adiya.
The cost of my treatment was checked and it was only 28,000-30,000 rupees, which I had certainly earned through my previous work. Barek and Chompa tried to claim me back but the club protects me.
What Barek did to me, I cannot explain it. I have nightmares about him. He cursed me. He vowed that I would never marry. He used to tell me not to reveal that I came from a good family and that I had studied up to Class VIII.
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