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.
Jesmin, along with her sister Poppy and the rest of her family, migrated to Mumbai when she was a young child. In Mumbai, Jesmin and her sisters went to work in a ‘bar’ to help support their family, forced to give all of their money to their father who wasted it on gambling, they received nothing for their work.
I was small when we went to Mumbai but I remember everything. We had a hard time. No money. We crossed the boarder on foot at Sultanpur. We were very hungry but we could not eat. In Bithary, we stopped at Shahjahan's house and he fed us. For 3 days we traveled on a train. Shahjahan fed us all kinds of food. We worked in Papri, Shatshola, then we settled. Taslima and Anna bubu later came to live with us.
At first, I worked in a hotel, then with my sisters, I went to work in a bar. My sister Rima used to dance and I sold alcohol. My sister had also sold alcohol at first.
My little sister massaged people (manusher shoril banaito). My little brother stayed inside the house with my father. When my father visited Bangladesh, he stayed alone. My mother worked in a different bar.
Taslima and Anna, they also worked in a bar elsewhere.
After lunch, a car came to pick us up. My work was a little bit better than my elder sister. To go with men, that was very painful, disgusting, difficult work (khub koshter kaj). I did not want to go. Mother punished me. She hit me, withdrew food and yelled names at me. For one year, I poured drinks. Then, I was made to do this other work. I went with men. Different kinds of men. I was afraid of their looks. Some were my father's age. My mother and my father are not good people. They asked all of us sisters to do this work.
If parents order their children to do such work, what is left for the children.
My father wasted our money by gambling; he put women to work, hung around and spent their money. That is why my mother quarreled with him. My mother did not give all her money to my father. This money is not earned easily, so it is very precious. Father wasted Taslima and Anna's money also. Now, they don't give their money to him. That is why they quarrel a lot.
We dressed well and we ate well over there but I prefer to live in the village even if I were to starve.
Before marriage, girls are under their parents' authority and after marriage, they are under their husband. We were taught that girls who do as they like becomes beadop (self willed - uncontrollable which is not seen here as a quality). This is why we did as our mother told us.
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