Three Trafficked Girls Flee from Captors, Return to Assam
Three girls from Assam, who were trafficked to Siliguri and were forced into sex work, fled from their captors and returned to Assam on Wednesday, February 6.
The girls were trafficked to Siliguri on various pretexts and were forced into sex work at a brothel there. The three victims were travelling without a ticket in a train from Siliguri to Assam and were caught by the TTE (travelling ticket examiner). Out of the three, two girls are aged 18 while one is 20-years-old.
After being caught by the TTE, they were then handed over to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) who contacted Guwahati-based GOLD (Global Organisation for Life Development) NGO. The victims are currently being provided with trauma counselling at the shelter home of the NGO in Guwahati.
The three girls went through a harrowing time while at the brothel and related their ordeal to G Plus.
The victims informed that they managed to flee the place with the help of a client who used to frequent the brothel and after knowing about their condition, decided to help them.
“He used to come to talk to us and we pleaded to him to help us. He then gave the three of us Rs 3,000 and helped us get out of the place,” said one of the victims.
The girls informed that they were sexually abused at the brothel and were beaten up brutally by the owners if they refused to take clients.
They further added that their phones were taken from them and they were not allowed to speak to their family back in Assam. They were also not allowed to go anywhere out of the brothel.
One of the girls was kidnapped from Assam four years ago and was sold for Rs 1 lakh to the brothel owner in Siliguri. She was studying in class 8 at that time, she said.
Talking to G Plus, one of the victims said, “I was taken to Siliguri by a boy four years ago who lured me there on the pretext of marriage. But upon reaching Siliguri, he took me to the brothel and forced me into prostitution.”
Further, another victim added that they were not paid by the brothel owners. “The owners did not pay us a single rupee during the entire time we spent there. We used to hide some money given by clients for our use,” another victim told G Plus.
She added that there were several other girls from Assam and the northeast who were forced into sex work and were living in unjust conditions.
The GOLD NGO will now file a case with the police in connection with the case. Assistant general secretary of GOLD, Kaveri Sharma, said that one man named Saddam was involved in trafficking one of the girls from Guwahati. They informed that they will file a case against Saddam as well as the owner of the brothel in Siliguri for human trafficking and sexual abuse of girls.
Sharma added that these girls were forced to take 8-10 clients in a day which left them traumatised both physically as well as mentally.
Talking about how rampant human trafficking has become in Guwahati and Assam, Sharma said that around 40-50 girls are trafficked everyday from Assam on an average.
Activists working in the field claim that Guwahati has become both the source as well as a destination centre for human trafficking. “Girls from Guwahati are trafficked to places like Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, Bengaluru, Chennai, Bangladesh and Myanmar,” Sharma further added.
As per the latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Assam recorded 129 cases of human trafficking in 2018, whereas there were 13 registered cases of selling of minor girls.
However, activists say that this is only the tip of the iceberg as a number of cases go unreported and what is reflected in the data is only a part of the actual number of crimes taking place.
Further, throwing light on the steps needed to combat the number of human trafficking cases from Assam, Sharma said that since most victims of human trafficking are taken to different locations by train, better vigilance from authorities is needed at railway stations.
“We can rescue more people if better enquiry is conducted in trains and at various railway stations,” she mentioned.
Further, authorities informed that girls from Guwahati are mostly trafficked to places like Dimapur, Shillong and other remote locations. Here they are mostly forced into domestic work, sex work and other menial jobs.
Additionally, activists have called for more institutions for rehabilitating for victims of human trafficking and they claim that the ones which exist are very sub-standard.
Another official working in the field mentioned that anti-human trafficking units need to have separate infrastructure and specially-trained personnel to respond to trafficking cases. Further, the police must also be sensitised on how to understand and handle cases related to trafficking.