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.
Parveen was taken to Mumbai at 14 years old after being thrown out of the house by her father. Working in a ‘bar’ Parveen was told she could earn good money, however, when it came time for her to be paid, Parveen found she had been cheated.
My mother died when I was 7 years old. My father, a van puller, remarried 9 months later. My stepmother made me work very hard for the family. She regularly beat me. By the age of 14, I started protesting. My father came back tired one night and he pushed me out of the house. I took shelter at a neighbour. Three days later, I visited another village with that family. There, I met Hamida. She offered to take me to Mumbai, teach me dance and fix a good job for me.
-"You will be able to earn well and fend for yourself", she said.
I left without informing my father. I did not have a clear idea about bar work. The first 3 months, she kept me and taught me to dance. I was quite happy to put on beautiful clothes and learn to dance. I felt like a cinema heroin. She gave me good food. I called her Nanni (maternal grand-mother). I trusted her. She used to say:
-"When you earn, I will look after your money and when you go home, you will be able to buy land. You will see your father will love you."
I never suspected Nanni could cheat me. I returned one month ago. She gave me 4,000 rupees and promised that her jamai (daughter's husband) would give me the rest.
- "The money will be transported through a hundi agent. It is too dangerous to carry such large amount yourself. You could get stolen. Look for land you can buy and the money will follow."
I brought gifts for my family. My father looked for land. Today, I came to get the money and Hamida's jamai said nothing had come for me. I could not believe it. Hamida owes me 1,00,000 rupees. I was a good earner. I was young and successful and she used to say I should make the most of it.
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