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.
Durga tells of how after the death of father, her mother sent her to a ‘home’ where she is being groomed for sexual exploitation.
My father used to love me a lot. I remember him bringing me fruit. He brought me grapes and apples. One day my father died and my mother sent me to this home.
My aunts lit my father’s pyre and said, ‘Now he has become a crow.’ I can’t forget that day. A spirit visits me and says my father is still alive. It calls me to meet him, saying “Come here, come here...” This has happened more than once. I dream of my father every night and I feel like crying or shouting in fear.
I went to Mumbai once. The women were standing along the street like they do in the area where my mother lives. We were not there for very long. My mother went there to do some work. I don’t know what kind of work she does.
The older girls in this home want me to become like them. They want me to talk like them, behave like them, and love them in the way that they want to be loved. I feel very scared. I know this isn’t right. I don’t want to do those things. When the older girls force me to learn bad things I run away and cry.
I am 8 now. I just want to study and be a good girl. I want to help my mother.
Narrative ‘Durga the Powerful’ featured in the project ‘Another Me: Transformations from Pain to Power’