Ambika Pandit, TNN 23 September 2009, 05:35am IST
NEW DELHI: The similarities between the lives of these two women are pronounced and put them in a different league. Kerala-born Rani Hong, who has been a victim of child trafficking and the international adoption racket, today fights for the rights of children and women in the US. And Rekha (name changed), who fought her way out of Delhi’s largest red light area, is working for child rights in Gurgaon despite her HIV positive status TOI carried a report on her last week. The pain running deep within the two was unmistakable when they met in the capital on Monday to chalk out a common path for their shared endeavour.
Dressed in a bright salwar-kameez like any other Indian woman, Rani geared up for a brainstorming session with stakeholders on the issue of child trafficking and abuse at the American Centre on Kasturba Gandhi Marg. Her heavy American accent got lost somewhere as she put forth her case with a zeal that unravelled the tale of a survivor. “I have a voice,” Rani said asserting she was here to give voice to vulnerable, poor children being trafficked for labour and victimized for big money through the international adoption racket.
Born in a poor family in Kerala, Rani was just seven when she was sold off by her parents. They were assured of a good future for their daughter by a woman who later turned out to be a trafficker. She was beaten up and abused. The experience affected her physical and mental condition to an extent that her traffickers abandoned her on the streets. Rani then found herself in the midst of an international adoption racket and finally landed in the US.
Her life took a turn for the better when a single woman, Nell Jain, adopted her and brought her up to be an independent woman. The foster mother instilled in her the confidence to accept her past and grow up to be an advocate for child and women’s rights. “My mother helped me get out of the trauma. But life changed again when she passed away. I was 16 then,” Rani recalled.
Rani went on to become an activist and met Trong Hong a victim of child trafficking from Vietnam who was to become her husband. Together, the two set up the TRONI Foundation in Washington. Smiling at the success of the foundation in influencing policy and legislation in the US, Rani pointed that the name, TRONI, was a combination of Trong and Rani.
Her urge to find her real family brought her back to India where she managed to find her biological mother and siblings in Kerala. After the reunion, she found out how much her mother had loved her but was deceived into selling her so that she could have a better future. Now, for the last six-odd years Rani has been returning to India to work on building links to fight trafficking in the country.
“During my visits to India I have been meeting NGOs to build a strong network to be able to campaign against trafficking,” Rani said. On her current visit she met Rekha who was sold off for prostitution at GB Road and managed to wriggle out of the brothel with great courage a few years back. HIV positive and a mother of two, Rekha now works for rights of children in Gurgaon as part of an initiative by NGO Shakti Vahini. Citing Rekha’s story, Rani asserted that survivors needed to join hands to lead the campaign and give voice to innocent lives that are vulnerable to trafficking.