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Freed from brothel, girls want to ink new chapter

shakti vahini

AMBIKA PANDIT IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Rescued from a wooden box at a brothel in GB Road on April 26, 17-year-old Neeru (name changed), who had been kidnapped from West Bengal’s 24 Parganas and dumped in Delhi, has been reunited with her family. The girl had appeared for her Class X exams back home. She returned to her village determined to pursue her education. Her father, who appeared relieved to have found his daughter safe, demanded speedy justice and punishment for the guilty.

The girl’s father, a daily wage earner, works as a labourer in farms. He had lodged a missing person report with the local police when his daughter had not returned from school. Neeru is his eldest child. The fact that his daughter was found at GB Road did not deter him from taking her back home.

According to social workers from NGO Shakti Vahini, who were tipped-off about the girl’s presence at GB Road by the father, this case is an example of how family can help in rehabilitation of a survivor from red-light area.

SLAVERY 2As she waited to board a train to Kolkata at the New Delhi Railway station on Saturday, Neeru narrated how she was befriended by an unknown boy who would give her missed calls on her mobile phone. One day, when she was going to the bank from school, the boy met her and asked her to accompany him. When she felt suspicious and tried to return, he forced her to board a train and she ended up at GB Road. There were many intermediaries in the chain, thrown in to prevent identification of the traffickers.

Tenacious Neeru managed to inform her father about her whereabouts using the phone of a customer. “When we got a tip-off from the father, we informed the police and a raid was organized on April 17. However, we did not find the girl. Later, a decoy customer found a 20-year-old girl from Midnapore district who was sitting depressed in a corner and it turned out that she, too, had been trafficked by a youth who had promised to marry her. She said the girl was hidden in a wooden box here. A second raid was organized on April 26 and both the girls and six other women were rescued from the box,” said Rishi kant from Shakti Vahini.

On Saturday, the 20-year-old girl from Midnapore also returned home with her father. She, too, plans to pursue her education now.

The brothel owner, Padma, had been arrested under sections of abduction, rape, illegal confinement and criminal conspiracy. Sections under POCSO, juvenile justice and immoral trafficking were also added. More arrests are likely.

In the last four years, Shakti Vahini has helped rescue 670 victims of human trafficking, including those trafficked for prostitution, forced marriage, domestic slavery, child labour, bonded labour and adoption. Around 75 victims have been rescued from GB Road.

 

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