Asma's mother died while giving birth to her second sister. Unable to raise the newborn and his two other daughters alone, Asma’s father took his family to live with his brother in Andhra Pradesh. After a few years, the brothers had a heated argument and the little family had to leave. First without a mother and now without a home, the family's vulnerability increased dramatically. They lived on a railway platform and begged for food every day. A few years later, the estranged brother's wife saw an opportunity to profit from the chaotic lives of her brother-in-law and his daughters. She told Asma about a job she had found for her. Asma trusted her aunt, and together they traveled 500 miles to Nagpur, a city in central India. Her aunt sold her to a brothel keeper, and Asma was forced to have sex with many customers a day. On 6th August 2015, after 3 months of forced prostitution, Freedom Firm investigators found and rescued fifteen-year-old Asma. Her father had died of cancer. Now an orphan, the government kept custody of her in shelter homes for the next five years. Asma was a quick learner and picked up tailoring, embroidery, drawing, and jewelry design. Asma was counting the days when she would see both her sisters and grandmother (who reached out to her when she was living in the shelter home). Perhaps it was the thought of home and family that kept her going all these years. The devastation she felt must have been terrible when she learned that one of her sisters was trafficked in 2018. Asma began to dream of ways to find and rescue her. Asma turned twenty this year and was scheduled to be released from the home a few months ago. Her release was postponed when the coronavirus hit. During a recent call with Asma, our social worker learned that she is deeply depressed because of the delay in her release and the anxiety she has for her sister.
The road to recovery for survivors is long and hard and Asma's story is nowhere near its end. Freedom Firm social workers will continue to come alongside Asma as she navigates her future.