Day 20 - Pooja
Pooja* is one of the bravest girls Freedom Firm has rescued. She was rescued in 2011 from Nagpur, and like many other minor girls found there, she belongs to the Bedia community which is responsible for forcing generations of women into prostitution. These women grow up believing that their identity is inherently linked to a life of prostitution and abuse. This belief is so ingrained in them that they relinquish any ideas of freedom at a very young age.
Thankfully, Pooja was not one of these girls. Born into poverty and sold because of tradition, Pooja has faced trials and pain that many of us cannot imagine. Yet, even after being sold, Pooja did not resign herself to her circumstances. She adamantly refused to do what her traffickers wanted, only to be severely beaten and starved until she gave in.
A way out arrived when Pooja was rescued and placed in a shelter home. Unfortunately, her troubles didn’t end there. Several “parents” repeatedly tried to claim custody of her, but she boldly declared that she had never seen those people before and that they weren't her parents. Of the 35 girls rescued in Nagpur that year, she was the only one who was willing to testify against her perpetrators. Although this caused backlash from the brothel community and threats and attacks were made on Pooja life, she bravely stood her ground and did not give in.
Since 2011, she has been receiving informal education and vocational training. She has no intention of ever returning to the red-light area and instead, has been focusing on her studies and her plans to join Ruhamah Designs. The change in her is evident, she has become a happy, confident, and capable girl, full of hopes and dreams for her future.
*name changed to protect identity