When I was in twelfth grade, I used to face a lot of opposition from my father. I enjoyed studying, but my father continually doubted my fidelity and accused me of spending time with boys. He discouraged me from going to school and burnt my books. My closest friend was a girl called Premalatha, but she was from a different caste and my father discouraged me from spending time with her as well.
Tormented by these difficulties at home, I decided to run away. I had saved Rs. 200 (the equivalent of 2 and a half dollars) from my pocket money. I only had Rs 200 when I left home and when I arrived in Bangalore, I knew immediately that I would have to find a job in order to support myself. I asked three people if they could help me by giving me a job, but they refused and walked away. At last, a man came and asked me what I was doing. I responded, “looking for work.” He told me that would give me a job in Pune. He booked us tickets to Pune but when I got on the bus I discovered that he had changed the plan and took me to Mumbai instead. Even though I knew he was trouble, I was too scared to ask for help. When we arrived in Mumbai the man handed me to a fat lady and that lady took me to another lady and she took me to another lady. Finally, after many transfers, I found myself in the brothel with three other girls. One girl asked "do you like this work?" I said "no," and she responded, "you will ….”.
I was there at the brothel for a year and each day I hoped that I could escape. I persistently told the brothel keeper that I wanted to leave because I didn’t like the work, for which she beat me on my head. "Even my father hasn’t beat me, but you beat me", I would cry every time it happened. These incidents made me quite desperate, but I was petrified to leave.
One day, she came to me and told me "Hide! The police have come." She shut me in the bathroom and shut the other door as well. I was scared to even breathe. Random thoughts filled my mind. "What will the police think of me?" "Am I a bad girl?"
I heard someone tapping at the door but I refused to make a sound or breathe.
‘Knock, Knock’. ‘ eli yaravadru idhara? (Is anyone here? - in Kannada - my mother tongue)
I heard a lady talking in my mother tongue. This was my opportunity. I had to get out.
‘Yes, I’m here’ I responded and the lady unlocked the door. I got to know later that Jaya was a social worker from an anti-trafficking organization and they came on a raid along with the police in order to rescue me.
I was able to breathe easily and walked out safely with Jaya. Meanwhile, I heard the brothel keeper pleading with the police that, "I’m new here, I didn’t know that she was a young girl. I didn’t do any wrong."
The brothel keeper and I were transported to the police station in the same vehicle. Throughout the whole journey, she prodded me to tell the police that I had come here of my own will. I assured her that I would tell the police what she wanted me to say.
At the police station, I boldly confessed to all the wrong she did to me and told the police that I was there ‘by force’ and that the brothel keeper made me work against my own will. She was slapped by the police. I gained strength in the knowledge that the days of my slavery were over and I would never have to return to it again. The brothel keeper was thrown into jail for keeping me captive and two other minor girls.
I spent three months at a short stay home and joined Ruhamah Designs for work. I feel I have found freedom because I can work. This is work I willingly do, I get paid accordingly, and I enjoy friendship with girls who have gone through similar experiences.