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Back home, Vasant Kunj maid dreams big in school

TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: The 18-year-old Santhal girl who was rescued from her woman employer’s house in Vasant Kunj in September is now studying in a residential school-cum-rehabilitation facility in Khutti, 30km from Ranchi in Jharkhand.

And she is not alone-the facility is also home to 25 other girls who were rescued from either Delhi or Mumbai where they used to work as domestic helps under inhuman conditions. This central government-sponsored Mahila Samakhya project now seeks to prevent human trafficking from Jharkhand.

The fear that had numbed the 18-year-old when she was found on September 30, 2013, has been replaced with a zeal for life. “Didi, I am in school and want to be a teacher,” she said over the phone before asking her friends to join her in humming a song composed by all of them to protest against trafficking from Jharkhand.

The lyrics, in the local dialect, appeals to the Jharkhand girls not to go with strangers to the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai for work and stay at home to get educated for a bright future. It tells the story of pain and sufferings inflicted by employers in the metros on these girls.

The girl has been enrolled into an adult literacy programme and also attending music classes, said Rishikant of Shakti Vahini, the NGO which was involved in the rescue of the Vasant Kunj maid and is following up on her rehabilitation. She wants to learn English, too.

Despite the trauma in the capital, she has kept her dream intact. Dressed in a bright blue salwar-kameez, she had waved from the Ranchi-bound Rajdhani on October 29, smiling warmly and assuring that she would be back in the capital as a schoolteacher.

Coming from Athganva village in Sahibganj district, she wants her former employer, Vandana Dhir, who used to be a senior executive with an MNC, to be punished. A trial court is now hearing the case.

The girl’s mother, a single parent of three daughters and two sons, had to send her eldest daughter to Delhi out of sheer desperation. The girl’s statement in the FIR, filed after her rescue, has made it clear that she had been assaulted with sticks, knives, brooms, a hot tawa and bare hands by her employer since June. Dhir had allegedly chopped off the girl’s hair and also kept her locked in a room.

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