Freedom Firm first rescued Sita* in February 2013 along with 7 other girls from Nagpur’s infamous red-light district. As per Indian law, she was immediately placed in a government protective home where our counselors were able to interact with her and learn bits and pieces about her past. We had hoped to meet regularly with her to give her counseling and map out a long term rehabilitation and restoration plan with her.
Unfortunately, the Child Welfare Committee had other plans for her. After just two months, they released her to her mother. At first, the release of a girl to her family may seem like a good thing. Then, you realize that it was actually her family that sold her.
Sita comes from the Bedia community in central India, one of the several communities that are social sanctioned to practice and perpetuate the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children. Releasing Sita to her parents almost certainly meant that she would be re-trafficked.
It turned out that this is exactly what happened. Just a few months later, we re-rescued her from the same red-light district. Today she is back in the government shelter home, receiving counseling and vocational training. She says that she experienced pain and abuse while she was in prostitution and that she did not want to be a part of the sex-trade.
For the moment, the Child Welfare Committee in Nagpur is unwilling to release any girl below the age of 18. We hope to use the time we have with her to help her heal from her painful past and equip her with the skills and training she needs to move forward.
*name changed to protect identity