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Divya's Story

Divya's* mother suffered from severe mental illness and had to be put away. Her father remarried another woman and Divya lived with her father and step-mother for a time. Though Divya's father was reasonably well-off since he ran a library and owned a flat, he was heavily involved in gambling and other illegal activities. Divya's stepmother and father fought so much that Divya was unable to attend school past standard 5. After it became apparent that Divya's step-mother and step-siblings did not like her, her father sent her away to live with her aunt. Divya did domestic work at her aunt's place until, without her father's knowledge, her aunt forced her into prostitution.

Divya was rescued on the 5th of December, 2006 from a brothel in Kolhapur. During her time spent in a remand home, she was trained in housekeeping and got a job in a mall. She worked hard and earned good money for the better part of a year until the travel and workload became too much for her. She had suffered from fits and attacks since childhood and had to be careful not to overexert herself. She wanted to go home and became paranoid that the staff at the remand home were blocking any phone calls and mail she received from her father.

Divya's father encouraged her to return home, less out of concern for her well-being and more because he wanted to stop Divya from testifying in court. Divya's aunt and father were close, and despite what had happened to Divya, her father seemed intent on protecting his sister rather than his daughter.

When the court case against Divya perpetrators was scheduled to take place, the defense lawyer failed to appear and the hearing had to be rescheduled. On the next date, the judge's mother-in-law passed away and the session was again postponed. The third time, all advocates were on strike. The fourth time, a senior most advocate passed away. Finally, Divya was able to testify in court and spoke boldly and confidently about what her aunt had done to her.

Ever since her rescue, Divya has committed herself to learning new skills and finding gainful employment. She works as a beautician now and wants to support herself no matter where she ends up living. She hopes to save up some money and return to her home village to be near her father. Though Divya seems to be adapting well to life outside of aftercare, she still feels anxious about her future. She said that staying in a safe home for so many months and then being released once again into the world is really scary. She said that if the reason she was rescued from the brothels was to keep her safe then she is unsure of how she will manage to function in the world. She said "what if we are not able to judge who the bad men and good men are? What if someone comes along and we end up trusting them again?"

Divya's story illustrates how difficult life after rescue is for young women who have already endured so much betrayal and trauma. Her own father proved unable to protect and support her and she has no one else to turn to. Thankfully, Divya is brave and is committed to taking advantage of all the opportunities that come her way.


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