Updated: Jul 18
Payal's* teenage boyfriend pretended he was into the relationship, but when he got together with friends and took Payal on a long train ride to Chandrapur, Maharashtrah, he sold her to a brothel.
Our Freedom Firm team rescued Payal from a brothel in Chandrapur in October 2018. When our social workers visited her in the government remand home after rescue, figuring out her story was a challenge. Out of the 70 official languages in India, Payal only spoke Telugu. Although most Indians typically know several languages, none of our staff knew Telagu! With the help of a translator, Payal told them her story.
Akshay and his friends pretended they were finding Payal a great job in the city, and doing her a favor. When he dropped her off at the brothel, he told her that she would work as a maid, and he would return at Diwali (Festival of Lights) holiday and take her home again.
Payal had no idea what was in store for her. Instead of cleaning floors and cooking as promised, Payal was raped by four to five men every day. The brothel keeper kept half the money she earned, telling Payal that she owed her purchase price. Payal believed she was in debt to the brothel keeper.
A search for home and parents
After rescue, the government of India relies on our social workers to conduct a Home Investigation, which involves locating the girl's home (often hundreds of miles away.) The social worker tried to piece together a location from Payal's hazy recollections of her childhood home.
Payal had left her village when she was five-years-old and had been separated from her family ever since. All she could remember was that her house was by a lake in a certain district. With hardly any substantial information, the social workers traveled to the area Payal believed to be home. When they arrived, the lake of her childhood was gone and the town had grown into a city. There was no trace of Payal's house or parents.
A Second Home
Freedom Firm social workers found a private shelter home where Payal now lives in safety and security. The director of the home has promised to help her pursue education and eventually to find her a job. We are so grateful for the people we partner with, who have stepped forward to care for her, protect her and help her on the next stage of her journey of recovery.
*Name changed to protect identity