On Monday morning, June 5, 2023, we received a distress message from Runa. (Runa was originally rescued from a brothel in Wani, Maharashtra, in July 2014.) She told us that her husband, Bunty, had been pressuring her for months to work as a prostitute again. In fact, two months ago, he took Runa from their hometown in Rajasthan to a red-light area in Wani and forced her to have sex with customers. Runa also reported that Bunty is threatening to kill her eldest son (fathered by another man) and has been beating him. Runa shared that she is pregnant with her third child. Bunty wants to do a prenatal test to determine if the fetus is a girl in the hopes that she too can feed his lifestyle through prostitution. Runa had reached her limit and wanted to file a complaint against her husband. We were relieved and thankful that she was ready to take on her trafficker even though it was her own husband.
On Monday evening, our social worker, Archana, called the police station and explained Runa’s situation to the inspector. A police vehicle arrived at Runa’s house and escorted her and her two sons (the second son, a two-year-old, is fathered by Bunty) to a one-stop-center— a temporary shelter for women in distress.
On Tuesday morning, social workers Archana and Smitha accompanied Runa to the police station where she filed a First Information Report (FIR) against her husband for three serious offenses: forcing her into prostitution, attempting to kill her four-year-old son, and forcing her to conduct a NIPT test to determine the sex of her unborn child (sex-determination is illegal in India due to high rates of female infanticide).
The police inspector who was writing the report filed an FIR (First Information Report - used to make official legal charges) but refused to register it as a trafficking case. Instead, he reported it as a domestic violence case and is preparing to send Runa back to her husband. Our social workers have been at the police station for the last few days insisting that the police inspector charges Runa’s husband with trafficking.
Runa wants to move to a shelter home in Nagpur, the same one where she was placed when first rescued, to ensure the safety of herself and her children.