It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.
Sanjida was trafficked from Assam to Haryana when she was 10 years old. She was kept by a family for four years who forced her to do manual labour in the fields.
All people in Haryana are disrespectful towards women like us. Everybody says we have no self-respect, that we are sold like cows and goats. We feel very bad when we hear all this because we are human beings and we belong to India just like them.
I was made to do field work. Cut grass, feed cows, do all the work. I cried for a year. I was in captivity for four years.
I couldn’t run away or bring my life to an end. There was nobody who I could ask for help.
I was sleeping and I heard a voice like my father’s calling out for me. He told me that he had come to take me home. But I couldn’t leave. He stayed for two months to watch how they treated me.
I miss everything about Assam, but even though I want to go back, I have no place to go. I don’t expect much for myself, but I work hard to educate my daughters so that they have a better life. Whatever I went through, they should not have to suffer that.
Narrative and images provided Al Jazeera