Trafficked, 2 Ambikapur girls back with horror tales

RAIPUR: Two girls, who went missing from Ambikapur district, in separate incidents, one and a half-year ago, returned home from Gujarat, after a nightmarish time of being pushed into flesh trade by a local woman and another person who lured them with jobs. The girls said that they were raped repeatedly before being forced in the trade.

The survivors managed to flee from the clutches of those who kept them in captivity, police said. Ambikapur superintendent of police Sundar Raj P said, “The girls were 14-year-old when Amita and Karan took them to Bilaspur, luring them with job offer and a better lifestyle. The girls’ parents also agreed but later realized that their girls were taken to Gujarat. Hence, a case was filed against the accused duo but police team which was sent to Gujarat couldn’t locate them.” The 17-year-old survivor, in her statement, said that she was trapped by Karan who also promised to marry her but when she went along with him to Surat, he repeatedly raped her and forced her to sleep with other boys.

The survivors said that when they opposed to be submissive before customers, Karan used to beat them. “They managed to flee only when Karan went out of station one day and reached Ambikapur seeking help from people. When the statement of both the girls was recorded, police realised that the accused were common,” an officer said.

He didn’t rule out the possibilities of more such girls being trafficked, raped and pushed into flesh trade.

Khalpara police have registered case against the accused under relevant sections of abduction, trafficking, rape against Karan and Amita and have launched a search in state. “A team of police personnel would also be sent to Gujarat to trace other missing girls and find the accused,” officials said.

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4 women from Chhattisgarh, minor girl gang-raped in UP

BY RASHMI DROLIA IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR: Cases of people migrating to other states to work as bonded labour and further getting exploited is common in Chhattisgarh. Four women and one minor hailing from Pamgarh in Janjgir-Champa district were gang-raped at Shahabad in Uttar Pradesh on January 20.

The survivors had gone to work at a brick-kiln to UP in Rampur district by a local contractor with their families.

Talking to TOI, Aarif Sheikh, superintendent of police Janjgir-Champa said: “The incident on January 20 when nearly 10-12 goons barged into the survivors’ huts after midnight and locking the men in one room, gang-raped the four women and a girl of 16-year-old taking chances.

The women said that the goons were carrying guns and knives and threatened them not to resist. They had also beaten the women and thrashed their men.”

SP said that the survivors then travelled back to Chhattisgarh and reported the matter to police. After medical examination, a zero FIR was lodged by the district police as the incident took place in other state.

“A team of five police personnel including women officers would be sent to UP for further investigation and case would be registered with UP police on basis of survivors’ version,” Sheikh said.

The contractor Rajkumar Kemath was on the run after the matter reported to police.

“It is part of Chhattisgarh’s culture that people in large migrate to other states to work mainly at brick-kilns in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Nearly 95 per cent of the more than 60 per cent migrated population works at brick-kilns and get paid few ‘paise’ on the basis of per brick made. During the months of February to August, half of the villages get isolated due to migration,” a local activist told TOI.

Rishikant of national NGO Shakti Vahini in New Delhi stressed that it’s the job of police to first check if it was a case of bonded labour and if norms of bonded labour system (abolition) Act were violated.

“If the survivors were not being paid the minimum wages set by state government under specified hours, the case gets even stronger with violation along with gang rape.”

BBC Media Action has been working since a year in Chhattisgarh’s four districts including Mahasamund, Sarguja, Durg and Korba to prevent and create awareness about bonded labour. “People who migrate to other states need to know that they shouldn’t go too far to work as schemes like MNREGA and many others are available at their own places. Secondly, if at all they move, they should inform to the Panchayat so that in case of such kind of untoward incident administration could take proper action.” Adrian Shepherd, project assistant, BBC Media Action programme said.

NCW recommends special legislation against human trafficking

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: NCW has recommended drafting of a special legislation against human trafficking which includes the UN definition of the crime, besides setting up of a central nodal authority to curb all such activities.

Taking note of increasing cases of human trafficking in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, the National Commission of Women (NCW) has sent a list of recommendations to the ministries of Home Affairs and Labour to prevent such crimes.

It has recommended drafting of a special legislation to combat human trafficking, especially that of women and children, by including its definition as per Article 3 of UN Convention 2000 and protocol with the term “abuse of position of vulnerability”, which is missing in Section 370 of the IPC.

The body also recommended extending the jurisdiction clause for any offence or contravention of human trafficking committed outside India.

NCW’s inquiry committee said the special act should also have a provision for police training and information exchange by law enforcement, immigration or other relevant authorities.

The training should focus on methods used in preventing such cases and protecting the rights of the victims along with stepping up of security and control of identity documents.

The committee also suggested setting up of a National Nodal Authority to coordinate all anti-human trafficking activities and said steps need to be taken to ensure that the issues of missing persons are linked up with trafficking.

In its recommendation to labour ministry, NCW said a national policy for domestic workers needs to formulated which ensures their rights, including maternity benefits, can be exercised comprehensively.

Shakti Vahini- Spearheading Indias Fight Against Human Trafficking

EI SAMAY CAMPAIGNEI SAMAY – KOLKATTA 16 JANUARY 2014

Hasi and Khushi

EI SAMAY 7

EI SAMAY WEST BENGAL

This is a story of two sisters Hasi and Khushi, who lived at Rajshahi, in Bangladesh. Their father had passed away, and mother was working in Muscat. So their grandparents were the only family that they had. Hasi had studied till class X, though Khushi’s education was cut off due to financial problems, when she was in class VII. Although life was difficult, the four of them were somehow able to keep their body and soul together.

One day, Hasi and Khushi were invited to their elder sister’s place, which was at quite a distance from their village. On their way, they met a man who introduced himself as Raju. He was quite friendly, and did not seem unnatural. Although a stranger, there began to grow a bond of friendship especially between Hasi and Raju. Within a few hours, the friendship began to change into love. They exchanged phone numbers and departed for the time being. On their way back from sister’s place, once again they ran into Raju, and once again they walked the rest of the way together, laughing and chatting.

Quite a few months have passed after that. One day Raju proposes marriage to Hasi, and asks her to meet him at a relative’s house. He tells her his decision of completing the legal procedures for marriage that day itself. Hasi agrees, and decides to leave her house without letting anyone know. However, Khushi comes to know of it and insists that she Hasi should take her with her. Finally, they reach the place, but due to some ‘unusual problem’ the registry does not take place. So the two sisters return home, fruitlessly.

A few days later, Raju informs Hasi that he has got a job in India, and that both of them will have to stay in India after marriage. Hasi does not refuse the offer, because her love cannot be limited by geographical boundaries. With the dream of a new family in her eyes, she leaves her motherland and comes to India, along with her younger sister.

They have food together, following which they are served with a rose-scented drink; it intoxicates them and they fall asleep. On waking up, they find that they have been brought to the Indian side of the border, to a place which they later come to know as Budhwar Peth: a place in Pune, equivalent to the G. B. Road in Delhi.

Pune is one of those prominent places in Western India, where human trafficking ismost active. There are more than 5ooo sex workers in Budhwar Peth. Most of these residents had, at some point of time, been trafficked to this place, and many of them have accepted their job at the brothels as their fate. Unlike G. B. Road, in Budhwar Peth bodily transactions take place even in broad ay light. If one moves through this busy locality, one can almost always find women standing in rich make-ups and attractive dresses. Many of them had been brought here from the same place that Hasi and Khushi belonged to.

The police, however, are not at all surprised. “We have often raided the brothels at Budhwar Peth”, notes officer Bhanupratap Bargey. He also reports that almost 70% of the girls are trafficked from Bangladesh and returning them to their homeland after being rescued, becomes problematic for the police. This is because, it then becomes an inter-national affair, added to which are many legal hurdles, overcoming which is quite difficult for these girls. The rest of the girls are brought from the different district of West Bengal.

There is also the barrier of language that the girls have to face. They can scarcely speak in Marathi, English or Hindi. Their language is born out of their native soil in Bangladesh. As a result they are unable to communicate their stories of torture to the police. Sometimes however, things are made easy through the involvement of an interpreter.

But Hasi and Khushi could speak in rough Hindi, so they did not have to face too much problem in communicating themselves. Nevertheless, Hasi and khushi were not kept together. They were rescued from two different brothels. The police found Khushi from the brothel where they expected to find Hasi. Along with her, were about 5 more Bangladeshi girls. Hasi was rescued from another brothel 2 days after her sister was found.

Initially they were residing at a Government-run home in Pune, but then they went back to their family. The case is under trial; Raju has been arrested.

Why is Pune witnessing such an increase in this business?

Officer Bargey says, “Many IT companies and other organisations are budding here. As a result, young people often stay here, alone, for the sake of their jobs”. They are the target customers of this trade. Apart from this, there is the hunger for easy money and glamour. So there are many such people, who accept it when they get a taste of the flesh trade. “But the greatest problem is a lack of co-ordination at the national level”, says Bargey. So, this organised crime is proliferating. He also reported that 27 organisations of flesh trade have been closed down, their licence have been cancelled for being involved in trafficking. This is probably the first state to have acted with such measures.

Surrounded by the Sahyadris, Pune is dotted with several small, big, and medium-sized hotels. There are also massage parlours with people moving in and out constantly. The amount that they charge for 20minutes of massage is Rs. 5000. Hotel rooms are booked for the customers, where girls in miniskirts and strapless tops wait. The rule is that one has to take off his shirt before entering the room for it takes some time to do that, and there is no time to be wasted inside the room. The watch and phone should also be kept outside, for they may act as sources of distraction. On agreement of this rule, one can have his partner to satisfy him for 20minutes.

This high-profile flesh trade is rampant in Mumbai and Pune. Vibha was one such girl who worked at a massage parlour, and was able to come out of the hell by the help of her client. She was studying in class XI, when a relative of her introduced her to a person offering a good ‘job’. At that time her family was in need of money. So she accepted the job, and was taken to the parlour. Everyday clients came into the room and she had to satisfy them. 5000 rupees for 20minutes, 70% of which had to be given to the parlour owner. “there was a man who used to come almost everyday”, says Vibha. One day she told him everything. “I don’t know what he was thinking, but within two days, the police came with the NGO workers and brought me away.” Vibha has taken a paramedical course after that, and is presently working as a nurse.

Police raids are not uncommon in these hotels and parlours. They come and go empty-handed because the parlour authorities are informed beforehand. Hence, all the new girls are taken out of sight before the police reach the place. So naturally, the police are very worried about this issue. But side-by-side, they are also happy because the people of Pune are aware of the trafficking activities. They cooperate with the police and often inform them if they find anything unnatural going on, or if they see unknown faces in the locality. The police have been able to save quite a few girls because of public help. The anti-trafficking unit of Maharashtra and the police organise awareness programmes on a regular basis.

The scenario with respect to rehabilitation is also far better in Pune than it is in the rest of the country. Some of the organisations like the Rescue Foundation and the Vanchit Vikas run rehabilitation homes, where they keep the girls after rescuing them. The girls are taught to sew, make papads, soft toys, jewelleries and such other works here. The government homes are not far behind either. Many of the residents of these homes are happy, and through learning of different works, they become self-dependent.

The other side of the story…

I was waiting to cross the Ferguson College Road; packs of bikes continued to run on and obstruct my path as well as vision. Suddenly, my eyes fell upon one of the bikers: a young boy of about 19, clad in perfectly clean garments. He was wearing a white band around his wrist, and was fidgeting with it in such a manner that is bound to attract one’s attention. I felt that this might be a new way to impress girls.

My suspiscion was not entirely wrong. He was trying to impress girls, but not in the common way that men do. He was a male escort, or gigolo. This is also an active trade in Pune. The police claim that this is also associated with trafficking. Boys of 17-18years of age are trafficked and trained in the job, after which they are made to work. Statistics reports indicate that the demand for male escorts is also quite high, nor is Rs.1000-1500 for half-an-hour a bad payment.

I came to know one such story from the police. It is about a boy of 19 years, with a well-built physique. But he was poor. Through acquaintance, he came to know that he was eligible to get an offer in the film industry. He would be trained accordingly, and might even get a chance to work with Aamir and Shah Rukh. The offer was lucrative enough for him to set his foot into the trap. But he came to realise what his job was after some days: he was a male escort. However, in the end, he was able to come out of the trap and return to his previous life.

This is not a singular incident; such instances are common in the country. According to the police, the awareness that people have regarding the trafficking and trading of women is absent in the case of men. So rescuing them is much more difficult than rescuing the girls. I came to know that those men on bikes, wearing white bands are mostly gigolos. They prepare themselves in such a way that they become noticeable. The bands are a feature from which others can recognise them. The only diffrence with their female counterparts is that they work in the afternoon, when the man of the house is absent. There are women who also call for male escorts ‘only to enjoy’.

‘Take me home, country road…’

EI SAMAY 5

PUBLISHED IN EI SAMAY

A car cuts through the lush, green paddy fields. Kids run behind it, laughing, shouting, cajoling. The car stops infront of a small hut. The clay oven is aflame in the courtyard. Rice is cooking. A woman is sitting behind it. She seems lost. Lost in the thoughts of a daughter who left …

‘Ma, ma…’ A shockwave runs through her. Whose voice? No, it can’t be…

Breathless, she runs out. A small crowd has formed around the car by then. She pushes through the crowd. Her child, the apple of her eyes, has come back. Tears blur everything. Still she tries to wipe out her daughter’s eyes first. But to no avail. ‘Yes ma, I’m back. They tortured me, to my death, almost. But I’ve come back.’

The hollow of her eyes are dark. Shameless, gaping wounds run through the body. Cuts, bruises, cigarette burns. Clotted blood, here and there.

Someone had taken her away with promises of work. She was sold to an agency in Delhi.

The agency supplies 24 hour domestic helps to well-off families in the national capital. But not on monthly salaries. This particular girl was sold to her tormentors in 30 thousand rupees. The monthly salaries went to the agency as per the contract. The child was left with the brutalities and sexual perversion of her ‘employers’.

This child could return, for her mother took her back. She is of the rarest lot, a lucky one, those who found solace in their own families. Those, who could heal in the warmth and love of near and dear ones.

But what of the unlucky ones? Those who are declared ‘fallen’ by the society? Those who are shunned by their own parents? Behind one tale of reconciliation such as this, lie countless sagas of darkness.

Kamala too was lured in by a promise of well-paid job. Instead she got sold into a kothi in G.B Road. Kamala was strong. She resisted the attempts to barter her body with all her might. Retribution was swift. They tortured her. They stripped her naked and hit her with a belt. But Kamala was adamant.

The kothimalkin then devised another route. In the dead of night, a regular client entered Kamala’s chamber. He tore through her like a bloodhound. Kamala’s body was battered, defeated. But not her spirit.

Kamala was in that hell-hole for the sum total of one and a half month. She was rescued after that. In those few days she had gained many years. Kamala was not a girl anymore. But amidst all the pain, a searing hope remained. She was going home. Finally!

Hours ticked on. Days, weeks, months, years … Nobody took her home. Nobody came to see her.

Kamala almost regrets her rescue now. ‘Perhaps I was better off there,’ she says. ‘I was tortured. Those animals defiled me every day. Yet I had a place to live. Got to eat twice a day … But here? Here I am just trapped. Every day they take me to the court. But nobody takes me home…’ Her mutterings are most disconcerting.

Kamala doesn’t know yet, the trial has ended. Her trafficker too has been sentenced. But she cannot go home. Never. Her family considers her ‘fallen’.

Kamala’s parents were informed in due time. But they refused to take her back. Back home, she has three younger sisters. If she is taken back, the society would shame them. Nobody would marry them. Her parents could not take her back. After all, ‘What would others say…?’ Kamala, their darling, has died for them. And that boy next door? Who promised that they would be together? No words from him, either.

Kamala’s address is now ‘NirmalChhaya’,  government home. It has been 7 years since she escaped that hell-hole. Nobody has taken her home. She has forgotten what affection is.

Rabeyatoo reminisces a lot. Her Nikah was a grand affair, she remembers. Her husband adored her. Together the newlyweds were weaving dreams of a beautiful life ahead. But that one wish ruined everything. Oh, why did she insist on that merry-go-round? Abdul too conceded. That day he returned home early from work. Rabeya was ready in her best clothes, that red and green sari, glass bangles, jhumkas.

They went to the fair. The fair, that took away everything she had. She remembers it vividly. People, colours, jubilations all around.The jalebis, fuchkas, bhelpuris, bangles, clips, mirrors … and the merry-go-round. When it goes on top, you can see past the station, the village …

Abdul had gone to fetch the tickets for the merry-go-round. Rabeya was standing beneath it. Suddenly a hand grabbed her face from behind. Then darkness. Regaining sense, Rabeya discovered she was naked. And a blinding weight of another body upon her. She was at G.B Road, Delhi.

Rabeya’s route to freedom was not an easy battle. But it’s all meaningless now. Her traffickers are in prison now. So is she. In the invisible prison of a ‘civilized’ society.

Rabeya and Kamala form the majority of the girls rescued from these rackets. Their family and society shuns them. The government doesn’t care. There is no proper rehabilitation system for these women. They are kept in government homes till the trial is on. After that, government shuns all responsibilities. Those who cannot go home, has nowhere to go, literally.

There are some N.G.Os that provide shelter to these women. But the numbers are grossly inadequate. For the majority, future is as bleak as the past. Some of them choose to go back in the darkness. Some are re-trafficked.

They are the unlucky lot. The tears have dried, for nobody wiped them out.

Maid to Suffer

Published in the Pioneer

Deprived, enslaved and tortured — young girls are being trafficked into Delhi by unscrupulous maid placement agencies on false promises of decent employment and salary. According to activists, labour trafficking is the most organised crime in India, sadly without a law to curb it. Deebashree Mohanty brings you the sordid tale of the Capital’s home helps and why this crime will keep burgeoning in the absence of any effective punishment

  • July 2013: Of the 24 girls rescued from a placement agency by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, 18 were pregnant and under 15 years.
  • August 2013: Two girls from Jharkhand (both minors and seven months pregnant) were rescued from a well established placement agency in Lajpat Nagar IV. So ashamed were they about their plight that they refused to go home despite their fathers pleading with them. They said they would rather die here than face humiliation at home.
  • January 2013: Three girls were rescued from a businessman’s house in Janakpuri East. Aged eight, 13 and 16, they were bonded labour. The eldest one had had two abortions in a year and the younger one has been seriously abused. Their master sent them to his relatives’ houses to work for free. None had been paid for 18 months.
  • May 2013: A 16-year-old maid from Nepal ran away from a house in Ghaziabad. She had injury marks on her head and private parts. She had been assaulted by her employer and his brother-in-law for six months. She said she was raped and beaten up frequently. When she asked the owners to send her back to the agency, they locked her up in their basement and beat her up. Doctors say she is unlikely to recover from trauma.
  • These girls are brought into the Capital, made to work as bonded labour and misguided about where they are being taken and for what purpose. Once they are here from their villages, it’s an unending trail of deceit and torture. They are exploited sexually and thrashed at the placement agency by several men. When they are “placed”as maids, they end up being physically and mentally abused by their employers

Kailash Satyarthi, founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan

Whether it is the yellow page services like justdial, or portals like asklaila or, for that matter, your friendly neighbourhood helping hand, placement agencies are everywhere — some registered, others working on word by mouth but none regulated by law to protect the rights of domestic workers.

“It is the illegal and irregulated supply chain in the form of agencies and brokers that need to be taken to task. There are no less than 250 large placement agencies in the Capital and law doesn’t recognise even a single one of them. They are all illegal and work under false alias. Most of the people behind these agencies are criminals wanted by the police or have served term for something or the other,” says Satyarthi.

In the long haul of busting such unscrupulous agents, Satyarthi adds that it is difficult to monitor such operators. “We have busted many small agencies which supply girls not just as maids but to brothels too. Still, there are many who manage to escape our notice. These are mastermind criminals who have their network in localised places. These local goons work in tandem and supply children to agency owners who then sell them off as labour. Nowadays, most agencies work under the false name of samitis or welfare societies. More audaciously, some have even registered themselves as NGOs working for child rights! This is one of the most well organised crimes difficult to crack,” senior inspector Abhjeet Ray, investigating the Pritampura maid abuse case, says.

He tells you that in this particular case, the owners had paid the maid agency Rs 35,000 as a yearly contract and a monthly sum of Rs 2,800 due to the girl was also paid to the agency. The sad part is that the agency knew the girl was being tortured but it didn’t come to her rescue.

“When my team went to rescue the maid locked up in the ground floor house No 1178 in Vasant Kunj Sector A, Ms Vandana Dhir made them wait for over four hours and showed up with her lawyer. When she opened the door, what my team saw they we will never forget. They recounted how the maid’s nails and body had been brutalised. She was is extreme trauma. She could not speak much about her sustained torture but the details will come out soon,” Rishi Kant, founder of Shakti Vahini, the NGO that helped rescue this maid from Dhir, says.

And that’s just one case. In July 2013, Bachpan Bachao Andolan rescued 13 girls who were being exploited at an agency called Adivasi Samiti which was registered as an NGO in Kirti Nagar. This so called NGO was supplying maids to houses as far away as Faridabad and Noida. More than 90 per cent of these girls were minors living in pathetic conditions in the NGO’s official premises. “They were huddled up with boys in a 6/6 room. Most of these girls had been molested. To escape the abuse, they had requested the manager to get them homes where they could work. They were so desperate to move out that they were ready to accept whatever was thrown their way. And, what may happen to them at their employer’s place was purely their luck,” Satyarthi says.

Pinki Senapathy (name changed) was sold to one such samiti by her aunt for a paltry Rs 5,000 when she was only 14. She had been brought in on a ruse of being taken to Delhi for a summer vacation. Little did she know that she would be made to work and carry out all sorts of chores for the “placement agent” to whom she was sold, and his friends. While at this agency, where she was left by her aunt, she was made to cook, wash utensils and clothes of all residents. Her master demanded all kinds of sexual favours, including oral sex which she performed on a number of occasions. Pinki got pregnant five times and bore a child out of wedlock when she was 20. She doesn’t know who the father of her four-year-old son is. Today, she is long dead.

Pinki and her son found owners in Chattarpur in 2011. She was working as a full-time maid on a Rs 2000 a month salary for all household work, including cooking three meals a day. Her employer, a banker and his wife, thought they had got a real good deal. When Pinki came to work here, she carried the wounds inflicted on her at the agency. One visit to a doctor revealed she was AIDS-infected. She was thrown out with her son immediately without a penny to her name.

“Pinki was spotted by a sevasharam karamchari who got her to us. She passed away in July 2012. Her son, who is also HIV positive, is admitted in a ward in Safdarjung Hospital,” Minu Yadav, founder and chairperson of the NGO SAVE India, says. Yadav has rescued many girls from evil agents and employers. But she is appalled that even after so much has been done and so much noise created, the Government continues to turn a blind eye to the issue.

In 2011, 314 minors died due to abuse. In 2012, the number escalated to 789 (mostly reported from Delhi) and in 2013, the number is already alarming. But with no law in place, there is no stopping such illegal trafficking of the fertile domestic workforce.

While New Delhi is the epicentre of such nefarious crimes, most girls are trafficked from Assam, Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Odissa. “In early 2000, girls were being brought from Bangladesh and sold here. But since the borders laws and the police turned strict, inter-state trafficking has increased. These criminals are no standalone individuals. They are well networked and influential,” Yadav tells you.

Satyarthi gives you an example of how such a network works: In January 2013, BBA rescued a girl from Assam when she was being arrested for selling girls of her village to agency owners in Delhi. The truth in fact was something very horrifying. It was her maternal uncle who had sold her off to a placement agency in Patparganj. After being repeatedly raped, this girl pleaded with the agent to let her go. But the agency had something else in store for her. They asked her to bring four girls as her replacement and then she would be free to return to her village.

“At first, she thought of running away. But she had no money or idea about the city. So, she complied. She got four girls to Delhi through phone calls back home. When one of her replacements ran away, she was forced to bring in another replacement. She managed to get her cousin to Delhi under the pretext of showing her the city. When she left for her village, there was quite another scene waiting for her there. The agency owners had informed the local police in Assam that she was their main supplier of girls (even infants). She was jailed and tortured for three months before our NGO rescued her,” Satyarthi recalls.

These multi-million rupee maid business is so murky and well organsied that agents hail from all kind of regions and cater to all kind of demands by future employers. Helps with specific gotra, caste, type, religion — you name it and they have one ready for you as take away.

So, is there a way out of this unending exploitation of rural manpower? Activists say that in more than 60 per cent cases, the woes of these girls only double. These helps are so desperate to get away from the agency that they succumb to whatever comes their way. They are ready to make any kind of compromise. Many die a thousand deaths before being rescued.

In August 2013, Gayatri, 18, was found locked in a servant’s room in Netaji Nagar, Type VI quarters. She had been locked up for two days without water or food. She was lying unconscious in a pool of her own urine and vomit. Gayatri’s employer, a bureaucrat, was away for a get-together when Sai Kripa rescued her on a tip-off by a cook.

Gayatri was being punished for having used the employer’s bathroom and hairbrush. She was beaten up by the bureaucrat’s wife with the same brush and dragged into the room. And this was not the first time. Gayatri had been beaten up, humiliated in front of guests and locked up without food or water on seven earlier occasions. Each time, the couple would give her food only after three days of punishment!

“Gayatri had several internal hemorrhages and she doesn’t remember any of her family members. She told us that once she was beaten up so mercilessly with a steel rod that she fractured her hand. Her employers did not take her to a hospital to get her a plaster. She was made to work in this painful condition,” Anupama Goswami from Sai Kripa tells you. The matter was reported to the police but nothing concrete has yet been done.

The biggest gap in dealing with the situation lies in the lack of appropriate measures for the recovery, rehabilitation and integration of victims. Post rescue, there are no effective measures available, particularly for victims of sexual exploitation.

“It will go a long way to have a Standard Operating Procedure, which not only defines the standards that need to be followed during the different stages of rescue, rehabilitation, repatriation and reintegration, but also define the roles of stakeholders such as the police, medical professionals and civil society organisations in this process. In the context of minors, this assumes greater significance and all-out efforts need to be made to ensure that processes and procedures are child friendly and do not allow for retraumatisation,” Vijaylakshmi Arora, Cry’s policy research and advocacy director, concludes.

Torture tale

Sitting motionless in the surgical ward of Safdarjung Hospital, Gauri (name changed), the maid rescued from 1178, Sector A, Vasant Kunj, has only wish. ‘Mujhe yahan nahin rahna hai,’ she keeps saying even in sleep. Although doctors say she is stable and will recover from the physical trauma soon, they are concerned that she may never be able to forget the atrocities meted out to her.

“When they got her to the hospital, there was swelling on her face, arms and legs. There were deep gashes, burn marks from a hot tawa and infected open wounds. There was a six- inch cut on her head infected by maggots close to the skull bone. Gauri was in shock,” a hospital attendant says.

Today, Gauri has her mother for company but she wants to go back to her village Sahibaganj in Jharkhand as soon as possible. Her mother can’t stop blaming herself for all that her daughter has gone through.

“I am to blame for all this. She came to Delhi looking for a living after her father passed away in 2010. For the first two years, she was doing quite well. She earned decently. Gauri would keep in touch, updating us about her whereabouts. In June, she wanted to leave everything and return. She was then working with a doctor couple in Lajpat Nagar. But the agency asked her to wait till December. Unwillingly, Gauri started to work with the Dhirs in Vasant Kunj,” her mother recounts.

Pallavi, who has been working with Shakti Vahni for 11 months, was present at this raid and she recounts how horrified she was to see Gauri at first.

“In just three months she was a battered girl. Gauri told me that the first time she was beaten up was when she used the western toilet wrongly. She was made to lick her own urine and served food in the bathroom. She says she spent most of her days locked in the washroom,” Pallavi says.

Incidentally, the employer was known for inhuman behaviour. “Most residents of this colony told us that there was something wrong with the Dhirs,” Pallavi adds.