"When I was 15, one of my friends introduced me to a man. Being aware of my economically deprived background where I had to earn to feed my family, he offered me a job outside West Bengal. On willingly accepting this opportunity, I took the train with him and during the journey, he offered me a bottle of cold drink with local chips. I started getting drowsy after I drank it. I don't remember what happened after that. As I gained consciousness the other day, I found myself naked in a shadowy room with a middle-aged man sleeping beside me." Malati Khatun (name changed), a survivor of Human Trafficking narrates her story to our team.
Human Trafficking is one of the worst forms of modern-day slavery. According to data, 95% of trafficked persons in India are forced into prostitution (Divya, 2020). The recent NCRB lists a total of 6,616 human trafficking cases as registered in India, out of which trafficking for the sex trade are the highest in numbers (Munshi, 2020). Since we work in different thematic areas, we have recently started attending to communities that are neglected in our society, are full of stories, and if known to everyone, would create a big impact on their different lenses of awareness and learning.
"When my parents kicked me out of the house, I started looking for shelter to earn my livelihood with dignity. One of my neighbours trafficked me to Pune where I was raped by strangers almost every day. With the help of a customer, I managed to escape from a red-light area. I felt like a stranger after I came home, so I started living on the street. One morning, a restaurateur walked up to me, offered me a job, fell in love with me, and asked me to marry him. I agreed also because it gave me an option to start my own business in the form of a grocery shop." tells Bauli Samanta (name changed) as she enthusiastically goes on sharing her business proposal with us.
You can find many people like Malati and Bauli whose reality should be eye-openers to others. Recently, we have supported ten survivors of human trafficking with essential ration kits in Canning-II block, South 24 Pgs, one of the interior pockets of West Bengal.
Reaching out to the missed-out communities has made us witnesses to bitter situations of their lives. We also give them options to live with sustainable job opportunities so that they could also stand on their own feet and get a chance at a dignified existence.