Stories of trafficking survivors
Part of The Freedom Project’s focus on India is our anti-trafficking work. We are involved in both rescuing trafficking victims with a team of investigators, and providing restoration for trafficking survivors through a safe house.
This is a unique opportunity to meet some of the women who have been residing at our women’s safe house throughout 2018. Hear their incredible stories of survival from a range of experiences and how they have begun their journey towards restoration through their time with us at the safe house.
Nadira (22) is an orphan on the run, coming from an abusive background at home. She ran away and was picked up by police and taken to a government home. Nadira escaped from the home and got in contact with a man who promised to get her a job. He arranged plane tickets to another city and planned to meet her. When she arrived some men arrived to pick her up and took her to some accommodation, full of other young girls. All of these girls worked in dance bars around the city and were trafficked, just like Nadira soon discovered she had been. One day the police raided the bar where Nadira worked and she was rescued along with some other girls. Now that she is in the safe house, she is much more confident and wants to study and then get a job to be a productive member of society.
Neelam, now 25, was promised a job by a friend in a nearby city but it turned out to be a trap. Her ‘friend’ sold her to a lady who forced her to work as a prostitute and dancer. During her time there she met a man on social media who promised to marry her. Thinking it was her ticket out of that life, she agreed to marry him but he disappeared and left her pregnant. Somehow she managed to escape the brothel and landed in a government home for trafficked women. There she gave birth to a daughter who is now 18 months old. Recently, she was brought from the government home to The Freedom Project’s safe house where she will find healing, restoration and a more secure future for her and her daughter.
Lalita (21) similarly was brought to the city by her boyfriend with the promise of marriage. She too was pregnant and was unsure about staying at home on her own so she travelled to the city with him. On the train on the way, her boyfriend introduced her to another woman and left her with this woman. Instantly she knew something was wrong. She never saw her boyfriend again but was trapped in a brothel, where she described her life as “hell”. Thankfully she was rescued from the brothel by the police where she was transferred to a government home before she came to our safe house.
Nazira, currently the youngest at The Freedom Project safe house, came from a background of conflict and violence. She ran away from home and tried to live with relatives to try and hide from her father who wanted her to marry a cousin. Eventually she had no more family to live with and remained on the run. In this vulnerable position she was sent to a government home and then brought to our safe house.
Whether it’s the temptation of a job, study, a marriage or just better opportunities in life, women and girls are extremely vulnerable to the lures of pimps and traffickers ready to take advantage of their naivety. They often end up in forced labour or sexual exploitation. Their freedoms are stripped away and their priority becomes a simple matter of survival. Often they fail to receive any pay for their ‘work’ and do not have the ability to leave without fear of retribution.
Once these women are rescued, the complexities are far from over. Through the partnership with the government home, our shelter provides a a place of safety, healing, counselling and training for women like Nazira who have not been able to enjoy normal freedoms of life. For up to two years they can remain with us with the aim of helping prevent them from being re-trafficked.
Your support can help us restore the lives of more women like these throughout 2019 and beyond.
(Names of trafficking survivors have been changed for security reasons.)