An 18 yr old girls 10yr trafficking story! @oasisIND. #sex sexual exploitation…

oasis

Over the last three days I’ve been visiting an international anti human trafficking organisation called Oasis in Mumbai. I’ve gone into brothels as an undercover ‘customer’, heard various stories of how girls and boys have ended up being trafficked and learned about the ins and outs of human trafficking in India.

http://www.oasisindia.org
twitter.com/OasisIND

Here is just one of the stories I came across that I’m going to share with you which will highlight how someone can find themselves being trafficked – this is just one of millions of different stories.

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Meet (for the purpose of this story as have to keep name confidential) Riya.

It started when she was young, her parents were extremely poor and made their lives collecting waste around Mumbai. It’s quite common to see this…

When Riya was 7 her dad died, he was collecting rubbish on the train tracks of Mumbai’s railway network when he got run over by a train… A year later she lost her mother to alcoholism. She was 8.

Where do you go from here?

Riya, aged 8 and being an only child was the last one left out of her immediate family and so went to stay with her maternal grandfather. She has fond memories of her time with him, he was for all intents and purposes a decent man, he did make her beg to earn her keep, but Riya said that was part of life, something which was the accepted norm. He cared for her.

Where the problems started!

Staying with the grandfather was something everyone had accepted initially (her uncles, aunts and other grandparents), but when they started to see her making money for her grandfather jealousy set in amongst them, so much so that her uncles started to physically abuse her grandfather because they wanted her, they wanted the money a young child could bring to their families and lives.

Out of fear for her grandfathers safety and pressure she ended up moving to her maternal uncles place in a region of Mumbai called Bandra, which is today quite a nice area of Mumbai.

This time though life wasn’t as easy for her. Riya’s uncle started getting her to beg for him, giving her a daily target of 400 rupees (nowadays about £4.70), which, if she didn’t make, would mean he would beat her, often strangling her, picking her up by her neck, landing full blown punches and also kicking her.

She ended up starting to make the money regularly though as she befriended local college students. Beatings as a result were kept to a minimum until the holidays came around where the money would dry up somewhat, she would then revert to holding a sign, written in English, stating she was dumb and needed money for food. She was still 8.

Survival instincts kick in

Riya kept begging though, motivated by her younger cousins who would also get beaten but not as severely… She would often give them some of her money to help ease the beating they would get. All money raised by Riya went straight to her uncle who would apparently spend it either on alcohol or lavish meals for himself and basic food for the rest of his family.

Beatings had become such a regular occurrence that Riya became astutely aware as to when they were coming, saying that whenever she noticed her uncle getting increasingly annoyed she would tell her aunt – who used to suffer equally as severe beatings – to go out to get out of the way whilst his temper climaxed and subsequently subsided.

Hardly believable twist

So all this was going on, Riya was in essence supporting an entire family in various ways and she was still around 9 years old.
She was helping her aunt get away from beatings and subsequently getting beaten for not telling her uncle where she was, she was begging to support her younger cousins to stop them from being beaten and handing over a good deal of her money to her alcoholic uncle to indulge himself in the things he wanted.

To add to this though her aunt (the wife of her abuser and the woman she was preventing from being beaten) had started sending her (unbeknown to her abusive uncle) to a 40 year old man she knew.

Initially Riya enjoyed these visits, she was allowed to watch cartoons, she was being fed and also was missing the beatings as a result, but time passed and, still aged 9, Riya would start getting ploughed with alcohol and drugs by this man only to wake up however long later with ripped clothes, feeling uncomfortable (she couldn’t comprehend that she was being raped) and being given various amounts of rupees from 60/150 and then getting sent on her way.

Even when relaying this to me Riya said she preferred visiting this man, because, for a brief moment every time she was allowed to be a child, something which had escaped her till then and also she thought if she didn’t go, the money she earnt would mean that her uncles younger children wouldn’t get food.

Independence?

Riya growingly became more sensitive to what was going on and after hearing argument after argument about how she was in the center of a tug of war between her aunts and uncles she decided at 14 along with her 8yr old cousin that life was better lived on their own terms so they both ran away.

On arrival in Pune (one of Maharashtra’s main cities) she and her cousin were approached by two ladies who tried offering them jobs when they got off the train, women they initially ignored. After two days though of no luck with finding jobs (they were 14 and 8) doing housework and getting increasingly hungry they were approached once again by the same two women who promised that she would be offered a well paid job, he would be sent to school and they would both be well fed.

Making do – for now?

So off they went, away from Pune and back to Mumbai where the women showed her a house where she thought she was going to work, soon afterwards they were back in Pune and Riya was faced with watching a conversation from a distance between the two women and a man who she thought she was going to be doing housework for. She was told it wasn’t going to be housework but that to earn good money she would be expected to dance.

Riya agreed, she didnt like the proposition but at the time said she thought it was going to just be a quick term fix to keep her sustained whilst she looked for other work and due to the fact that she thought her cousin would be benefitting from a good education.

The reality of it all

It quickly transpired when she awoke the next morning that she had found herself in a brothel and when she asked to leave she was told that in order to leave she would have to pay 50,000 rupees, as that was the price the brothel owner had paid for her. Something she didn’t have.

In the initial first month nothing happened, she was with her cousin and they were being well looked after, it seems almost like softening the blow until her cousin got taken away and sent ‘to school’ in dehli… It took the wind out of her sails, she understandably felt vulnerable as her strength came from not being in it alone. In the coming months she found herself running away and even trying to commit suicide but the thoughts of her cousin stopped her each time and ended up with her returning back , she worried continuously about what would’ve or what was happening to her cousin.

When the cousin went, the brothel owner, her owner, turned her attention onto Riya. The brothel owner got her husband to seemingly ‘initiate’ Riya into the line of work she had found herself in by having sex with her on 3 separate occasions.

The beginning of the end

Throughout the year leading up to her being rescued she was forced to have sex and unprotected sex on numerous occasions, she was lucky enough to speak and see her brother once, but found out during her visit that he had not be sent to school but forced to do housework for free for a family in Delhi.

Multi-generational

She said she was surrounded by other girls of a similar age or background, and even in some instances girls who were second generation prostitutes as their mothers had been trafficked and not rescued.

Her rescue came about because of a boy who worked at the brothel finding out and recording (Riya was told not to give her real name/age or place of origin whilst she was at the brothel but this boy noticed her local dialect) her statement that she was from the state she had ended up in a brothel in.

He in turn told everyone he knew which lead to a politician in the area finding out and he, with evidence in hand, conducted a raid to get her out because he couldn’t stand the idea of a girl from his state at such a young age being in a brothel.

The brothel has now been closed down since the raid but only because Riya testified in court against her abusers, something that is very rare and takes a lot of courage after a life of relentless mental belittling and abuse.

She has still yet to be reunited with her cousin too, despite being rescued around the same time as Riya and brought back to Mumbai to stay in a government hostel (a home for trafficked children) the management of the system leaves her unsure of which one of the many GH’s he’s in , a search which is ongoing.

Whilst this is just one of millions of stories which happen every year, it still shocks how easily it happened and how fragile a mind can be at such an early age without the proper education or knowledge in place.

Riya herself is still studying and is in the rehabilitation programme being run by Oasis (which I’ll tell you about in a later post). She’s studying English and Hindi (and can now read Hindi) and in the next couple of years will be looking to get onto the career ladder and she’s hopeful of being reunited with her cousin.

On average between 4-20 million people are trafficked around the world a year.

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6 responses to “An 18 yr old girls 10yr trafficking story! @oasisIND. #sex sexual exploitation…

  1. Pingback: #Humantrafficking prt 2! My undercover ‘customer’ experience @oasisind #humantrafficking | Will's travel blog·

    • Definitely is. Poor education and awareness being the common factor as to why these girls and women end up being manipulated into such circumstances. Please share. Get in touch with Oasis if you want to find out more too.

  2. Good story + it must have been a real education! Who introduced you to Oasis and should they be researched? What do you think?

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