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Day 6 - Moni

Moni* was born into a family of Brahmins, a privileged caste within the Hindu religion. She was pampered as she was the only girl and pursued her studies until standard 8, after which she fell ill will jaundice and was forced to drop out. She continued reading her textbooks at home and as her strength increased, she was able to visit the temple whenever she had the time. During one such visit, a couple by the name of Pinky and Anirudha befriended Moni. After meeting her a few times, they asked if she would like a job to support her family. Moni was uninterested in what they had to offer, explaining that her family did not need financial support from her and that she had no intention of moving away from home for any reason. But the man continued trying to persuade her. Eventually, Moni agreed to meet up with the couple at a mall. Once there, they offered her some tea and Moni began to feel strange and was unable to think straight.

Pinky and Anirudha took Moni to the train station and boarded a train for Pune. She kept asking if she could call her parents but Anirudha refused. Moni was taken to a brothel and left there. Bewildered and confused, she asked the people around her where she was and what was happening. They told her that bad luck or destiny had brought her here and she had no other choice than to accept her fate.

When Moni refused to do the work, she was brutally beaten until she complied. She recognized one of the other sex-workers, Jaya, an old school friend. Jaya pretended to not know Moni at first, but then later confided that this was the kind of place where it was best to keep to yourself. Moni adopted a similar attitude, closing herself off from those around her and refusing to trust anyone.

Moni was appalled at what her life had become. She was so traumatized that she felt like she was going insane. She never spoke about her feelings to anyone, afraid they would report her to the manager who would then watch her more closely. Moni was intent on finding a way to escape.

One day, an elderly man came to Moni as a customer. Seeing that he was almost as old as her father, Moni felt an urge to tell him her story and ask for his help. He assured her that he would aid her escape and gave her a pen to write down her address and other details. He promised to return in three days. Moni guarded the pen, recognizing the need to be able to communicate with the outside world. Some of the other girls found the pen and stole it from Moni. Disheartened, Moni's anxiety continued to mount when the old man did not return. She worried that the old man had told the manager and Moni would be punished, or that he would twist Moni's story and tell her parents, and her whole family would be disgraced.

The days spent waiting for the old man was mental torture.

Finally, the old man returned and the police came with him. Moni was rescued on the 17th of December, 2008.

*name changed to protect identity


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