Updated: Jul 17
Meera* was the eldest sibling in her family followed by four brothers and one sister. Her father died while she was still young. Her mother remarried. The family was poor and worked at a tea estate in Katalguri, near Sikkim, the eastern part of India. When she was 16 years old, being the eldest, she was sent by her mother with a maternal uncle to work.
Days passed, months passed, years passed and there was no news of her. Her family thought that she was doing well. Her mother, being illiterate, did not file a missing person complaint. After seven long years, she was rescued from the red-light area in Pune by Freedom Firm and the local police on 30th May, 2011. Later she realized that it was her uncle who had trafficked her to Pune and sold her.
Initially, she thought that her life was destroyed and she decided to accept this and return to the red-light area as it seemed like there was no other option before her. During the process of counseling and follow-up visits at different shelter homes, her attitude towards her life changed. She decided to never go back to that ugly place which had brought her tremendous pain and had snatched her childhood from her. She was sent home to her family who was glad to have her back.
Still, she continued to hide the truth of her life; still, she continued to remain silent about her past. No one from her family was aware of what happened to her during the seven years of her life. She told them that her uncle had trafficked and sold her but that she had managed to escape before she could be forced to prostitute. She told them that she had spent the last seven years working at a regular job.
However, when it was time for Meera to testify in court she did not choose to remain silent. She chose to fight for justice and punish her brothel keeper. She chose to travel a thousand miles to get justice. A small, frail-looking girl with incredible courage and enthusiasm, Meera sensed that this journey would help her find greater freedom. A thousand emotions passed through her mind: fear, doubt, hope, and joy engulfed her like a storm.
When the time arrived she came forward boldly and testified before the court in Pune. She faced the opposition with strength. She sensed that a burden had left her and that she was now free, no longer under chains of pain, hurt, and trauma. She was relieved from the past, a torment that had lingered for years.
The verdict for Meera’s case is still pending in the courts. Freedom Firm will continue to monitor her case and assist in every way to ensure that she is provided justice through the prosecution and conviction of her brothel keeper. Though it may be months before a judgment is given, for Meera, the day she testified was the day of her redemption.
After years of silence, she had a smile on her face again; she felt rejuvenated. On her journey to restoration, she had found hope. Unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness were hers for the taking.
*Name changed to protect identity