When Heena* was rescued from the brothel on March 31, 2011 she certainly looked like a minor, although it seemed like she had been in prostitution for a long time. The stretch marks on her stomach indicated that she had given birth before. Sure enough, she had a 5-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son.
Heena's medical report after rescue showed that she was 17 years old. She was very upset about this news and insisted she was actually 21 and her report had been manipulated. A social worker sat with her for a long time because Heena was so agitated. She missed her children who lived with her in-laws and was worried because she hadn't sent any money to them that month since she was no longer working in the brothel. Heena said that her children's welfare depended on her income.
According to Heena, she met her husband, Hajarat, while working in the brothel. He was a delivery boy in a nearby hotel. They decided to elope together but were caught by the police when Heena's brothel-keeper complained. They were taken back to the police station but Heena stood up to the police and told them she was taking off at her own will and planned to marry Hajarat. The police let them go. She went with Hajarat to Uttar Pradesh, and they got married in a mosque. The couple lived with Hajarat's parents and had two children. Heena worked hard laboring in the field but only managed to earn a meager wage. Her children were sick all the time and needed constant medical attention, something they weren’t able to afford. Finally, after 4 years, they decided to come back to Pune and take up the work they left behind when they eloped together. They left the children with Heena's inlaws who were unaware of the work she became involved in again. They thought she worked at a garment shop.
Heena is originally from Andra and comes from a good family. She studied till standard IX. However, returning to her parents is not an option for Heena because according to her, her life is defiled and she is married to a Muslim, making her unacceptable twice over.
Heena wept without ceasing at the police station because she didn't see any way out of her situation and was overcome with frustration and helplessness.
When two Freedom Firm social workers went to visit Heena two years after rescue they saw that Heena's life had changed dramatically. Currently, she works as a Security Guard in a school in Andra Pradesh and is doing very well.
*name changed to protect identity