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2007 (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. 

Bhanu* was 13 when she was abducted by a man, taken to Mumbai and forced to provide sexual services to customers in a brothel. She was able to escape one day with the help of a customer.

Because … I want them to see how it feels, I want the world to understand how rape and violence destroy a woman’s will to live.’

I’ve been living in different shelters for the last 6 years, since I was 15. I came from a prosperous family. When I was 13, a man from my neighbourhood abducted me to Mumbai. I can’t forget the smell of the customers, their bulging eyes. I slashed my wrists in desperation. A customer took pity on me. He took me away from the brothel, and my trafficker and the brothel owner were arrested. But the court case has gone on for so many years. God knows when I will be able to go home. I must work. I’m HIV positive. I must earn enough to pay for my medicines.


*name given


Narrative ‘Girl in Pain’ featured in the project ‘Another Me: Transformations from Pain to Power