Home at Last
In our work to end the sexual exploitation of minor girls, the resistance to their rescue and
rehabilitation has been intense. Of the first 100 girls Freedom Firm rescued in Nagpur, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and District Court released 99 girls. In spite of this, girls are returning home...
Sajini* was 14 years old when she was rescued for the third time. We submitted endless letters to the CWC warning them of the risk of re-trafficking, but they released her anyway. We felt defeated. Nevertheless, on a follow-up visit in early 2015, we found that she was at home, married and pregnant. She told our social workers that she was “so happy with this life.”
After we brought a complaint against the CWC for their part in releasing girls, cases of minor girls stopped being transferred to the CWC. Reshma*,
who was rescued in 2014, was then released by the District Court based on a fake school document that alleged she was a major. On a follow-up visit to her village, we found her at home, taking care of her family.
Freedom Firm rescued Sita* twice in 2013. The CWC used a new tactic to “transfer” Sita. We
objected, the Court issued a stay on the transfer, but she was transferred anyway and released soon after. In late 2014, our social workers visited her village. To their surprise and delight, they found Sita safe with her family.
The CWC released Sonu* quickly because she was “troublesome” to the shelter home staff. It seemed to us that laws were meaningless, authority figures powerless, and rehabilitation and welfare of a child did not factor into anyone’s conscience.
Yet, when we went to Sonu’s home, we found her living happily with her mother.
I was present the second time our team rescued Priya*. Priya seemed bored at the police station, as if she knew her rescue was just a part of her life. She was released within 2 months. I thought for sure she would be found again in Ganga Jamuna, Nagpur’s red-light area. When social workers met Priya’s sister, Rekha* (also formerly rescued) in their home, she said that Priya was safe.
The fact that Sajini, Reshma, Sita, Sonu, Priya and Rekha are not in red-light areas but rather at their homes is a sign of progress. Freedom Firm knows the girls in Ganga Jamuna, and knows them personally. With that kind of attention, it is difficult for brothel keepers to display them openly in public. That is the reason they are returning home.
--Evan, Western Region Director
*names changed to protect identity