Published On: Sat, Mar 31st, 2018

Wanted to die when media revealed my identity: Child trafficking survivors speak out

Sexual Exploitation
The survivors spoke at a ‘Media Workshop on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children’ which was organised in Hyderabad.
Anjana* was 14 years old, when her life turned upside down. 
“I had studied till Class 7 and a boy said that he loved me and wanted to marry me. He took me away from home and left me with this lady, who he claimed was his mother. He said that he would come back within two days after arranging some money for our marriage, he never came back,” she narrates.
Anjana soon realised that she had been sold by the young man to a trafficker.
“Two days later, two men came and forced themselves upon me. It was hurtful. I kept resisting and telling them that I was not such a person, but they didn’t listen and continued to rape me,” she adds, breaking into tears.
The young minor spent many sleepless nights, and was sexually assaulted repeatedly, until she was rescued after a raid by the police. 
Even then, the trafficking ring did not leave her, as they threatened her against speaking in court, and even said that they would kill her parents.  
“Besides all that, I stood my ground and the case is going on. They are on bail, while I have to be in a home until I’m 18. Why should we be punished for their crimes?” she asks. 
Anjana was just one of three girls, who spoke at ‘Media Workshop on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children’ organised by Change.Org in collaboration with The News Minute and Change Mantras.
Another minor narrating her tale, spoke about how she lost her father at a young age, after which her step-dad used to molest and sexually assault her.
“One day, he came home drunk and raped me. He apologised and said he won’t do it again. Two days later, he brought two uncles and locked me in a room and bolted it from outside. They offered me money, but I said that I wanted to study,” she said. 
“I was later shifted to another place where I was thrashed everyday with belts, blades and broken beer bottles. Many cigarettes were stubbed on my skin. I was denied food for days, as customers kept coming. I used to cry and spend sleepless nights,” she added.
One day, based on a tip-off, the minor was rescued by the police and is presently in a home, where she is undergoing counselling, and learning to paint.
This survivor too, argues that the media should focus on the people running the entire racket, and not the survivors themselves. 
“The media revealed my identity and mentioned which village I lived in, so I faced a lot of stigma from friends and family. I wanted to die,” she said.
The story of the third survivor, was just as heartbreaking. 
“My mother and father died when I was young and my family married me off to an unknown man. Two to three months into the marriage, he would get drunk and assault me. He told me that he was a pimp in the business of prostitution,” she narrated.
“They locked me up and it was like hell. I also had many cigarettes stubbed on my skin. I just wanted to die,” she added. 
She also questioned the media’s failure to focus on the accused, who can often afford good lawyers and get away.
“Our lives have been ruined even though we haven’t committed a mistake,” the survivor concluded.
The workshop saw speakers like Roop Sen, Partner, Change Mantras and Sagar, Programme Manager, HELP besides Durga Nandini, Communications Director, Change.Org.
The activists stressed on the importance of sensitive reporting and the need to focus on the traffickers, brothel owners and customers in such criminal cases, rather than focusing on the victim and risk revealing their identity.
They also spoke about the collective failure of the state and Central government to address the issue of rehabilitation after the rescue.
The importance of following up on such stories from the police registering the FIR, to the trial and prosecution was also discussed.
 
*Names changed 

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