Occasionally, other organizations reach out to Freedom Firm with referral cases, cases that they can’t solve, women they can’t help. Meera was rescued by another anti-trafficking organization in 2016 when she was 21 years old. Two years later, Meera revealed to the shelter home staff that she had lost her three-year-old daughter at the time of rescue. The shelter home turned to Freedom Firm for help in tracking her daughter.
Meera recounted her story prior to rescue. She had lived with her husband and two children in Pune. Her husband had an extramarital affair and left her for the other woman. After he left, she was destitute. Meera lived with a friend who suggested she earn money through prostitution. Unable to feed her children, she had little choice but to sell her body.
Meera did the best she could to protect her children from experiencing the horrors of brothel life. She placed her son in a government home and visited him once every six months. She left her three-year-old daughter with her friend during work hours in the brothel.
When she was rescued while serving a customer, Meera couldn’t stop to collect her daughter before being whisked off to the police station, and then sent to the remand home. No one knows why it took Meera two years to tell about her daughter. When she did, it was an urgent cry for help.
Fearful that the little girl was being exploited in the brothels of Pune, Freedom Firm investigators went undercover to look for the little girl. She was not there. Fortunately, the shelter home staff gave the address of Meera’s friend to our investigators. The friend said that the girl had run away, was found, and then was placed in a government shelter home.
When our social worker went to the shelter home to inquire about Meera’s daughter, she remembered that it was the same home where Meera said she had left her son, several years before. Shelter home volunteers brought the little girl and boy to meet our social worker. The two children looked similar. When she introduced them to each other and said, “This is your brother” and “This is your sister”, they stood still, silent and shocked. After three years of separation, the siblings were reunited.
Freedom Firm updated the Child Welfare Committee who then ruled that Meera is unable to look after her children since she did not report she had a daughter at the time of rescue and as her income will not be sufficient to support them. While Meera can’t look forward to raising her children, she has peace of mind of knowing her children were kept safe during the turmoil of her time in the brothel, are safe today and have a chance at being adopted by a loving family.
*Name changed to protect identity