Mussamat* was married to an alcoholic. He used to beat her and one day he left her and did not come back. She returned to her parents’ house. A male relative encouraged her to come to Dhaka for work where he found her a job in a garment factory. She worked at the factory for a year and lived with her relative and his family. During that time, she was promoted from helper to garment maker and made more money as a result.
After a year, she went back to her village to visit her family. On returning to Dhaka, her previous job wasn’t available so she sought employment in another factory as a helper, earning Rs. 3000 (Bangladesh currency). Mussamat lived with a group of girls in a rental close to the factory. Soon, a man named Raza-ul Azim began to pursue Mussamat. Raza-ul worked in the ironing section of the factory. Though he was persistent in his advances, Mussamat continued to ward him off. He professed his love for her and said that he wanted to marry her even though she had gone through a failed marriage. Raza-ul pursued her for six months. Mussamat was also pressured by her roommates and colleagues to consider him.
Musamat finally accepted his proposal but wanted him to meet her family before they took the next step. They made a trip to her home and met her parents. Mussamat’s mother warned her to be careful and did not approve of Raza-ul. After their return to Dhaka, Mussmat worked there for another month. In July 2011, Raza-ul said he wanted her to meet his family who lives in Jessore. She was reluctant to travel alone with him but after encouragement from her friends and Raza-ul, she agreed.
On July 13th, Mussamat and Raza-ul boarded the bus to Jessore. They travelled in van from there and went to a friend’s place. Raza-ul and his friend then took her to another house. It was late in the night and Mussamat hadn’t yet met Raza-ul’s mother yet. She was worried since Raza-ul had told her that his house was only a couple of hours away. She kept on asking him how far away they were, but Raza-ul asked her to trust him.
Raza-ul and the other man made Mussamat climb over a wall with the help of a rope. Then they had to climb over another wall, and Mussamat slipped and fell to the ground where she was covered in mud. Mussamat recalled big flashlights passing through the vast grounds and all of them hiding each time the light came near. They moved silently in the dark till they reached a house. She took bath, changed her clothes, and ate. They spent the night there.
Mussamat was very distraught and started pressuring Raza-ul to tell her where they were. He assured her that they would proceed to his parent’s house the next day. The next day, Mussamat was taken to another place. On their way, she saw signboards that made her suspect that they had crossed the Bangladesh border and were now in India. Raza-ul refused to explain anything. They arrived at another house and Raza-ul left her there with a family. Mussamat was becoming increasingly anxious and scared by then. She wept and refused to eat anything. The woman in the house tried to pacify her but she kept on crying, asking for Raza-ul.
When evening came, Raza-ul returned and reprimanded her for not trusting him. He coaxed her to eat something. They ate together and they spent the night there. The next day, Raza-ul introduced Mussamat to a man named Azipur Gazi. He asked her to go ahead with him saying that he would follow later. Mussamat boarded the bus with Azipur Gazi to what she thought was Raza-ul’s home. In reality, she was being taken to Howrah. Raza-ul had told her that the journey to his mother’s house involved a train ride. She spent the night at the train station and they boarded the train the next morning.
On the train, Mussamat still felt anxious. She could not help worrying and this did not go unnoticed by the other passengers. While Azipur was asleep, one of the passengers named Maloyan started probing her with questions. He asked her who she was, who Azipur was, and where they were going. At first, Mussamat lied and said that she was from Kolkata, Azipur was her brother and they were going to visit a relative. But she could not name the place.
Maloyan told her that this was not the first time that he had seen Azipur with girls and warned her that he could be a trafficker whose intention was to sell her in the city. Maloyan told her that the train was bound for Bombay. He assured her that he was from Bangladesh and encouraged her to tell him the truth so that he could help her. She did. Mussamat gave him the whole story. Molayan said he would help her. While Azipur was sleeping, Molayan took another passenger named Milton into his confidence, also a Bangladeshi, and together they coordinated Mussamat's rescue. When the train reached Ahmed Nagar station, the police came, rescued Mussamat, and arrested Azipur.
*name changed to protect identity