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Sarthika's story

Sarthika* was staying with her sister and her husband. One day, there was some sort of problem in their village and Sarthika's brother-in-law said he needed 3 lakhs ($4,031) to sort it out. He went to his friend to ask for a loan and brought Sarthika with him. They went to a place called Digha and stopped at a hotel named Lodge Queen. Sarthika's brother-in-law told her to wait outside while he visited his friend. He came back after a while and told Sarthika to go to the second floor. She did not know why he asked this of her. He said that he would come back later with her sister to pick her up.

When Sarthika arrived on the second floor, a man took her to a tiny room and gave her food. He told her to rest now as she would have to work later on. She had no idea what he meant. Later that night, the man gave Sarthika revealing clothes and asked her to change into them. When she refused, he hit her. He said he would kill her if she did not put on the clothes and serve customers. She found out then that her brother-in-law had sold her into prostitution.

The man sent her to the Haldia district where there were numerous hotels that doubled as brothels and many girls in skimpy clothing waiting outside. Sarthika was forced to take sleeping tablets at the hotel. When she woke up she was in pain and covered in blood. She had no other choice but to attend customers every day from late in the evening till four in the morning.

One day, Sarthika was drinking with the other girls she lived with. They realized then that there was a raid taking place in the hotel. Two women from an anti-trafficking organization found Sarthika and took her to the police station. After taking down Sarthika's information, she was sent to a short-stay home. She has lived there for the past two years and says she is happy to be free from the work she was subjected to and the physical violence that she endured from her brothel keepers.

*name changed to protect identity


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