The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day there were nearly 8 million people living in modern slavery in India. The GSI 2018 reports an emerging trend in northeast India where organised trafficking syndicates operate along the open and unmanned international borders, duping or coercing young girls seeking employment outside their local area in to forced sexual exploitation. Many women and girls are lured with the promise of a good job but then forced in to sex work, with a 'conditioning' period involving violence, threats, debt bondage and rape.
Aamuktha* was trafficked in to commercial sexual exploitation from Nepal to India.
In my village, girls were not allowed to go to school. All my sisters got married very young. One was only 11. I wanted to go to Kathmandu for further education, but my father was against this.
However, my brother was already in Kathmandu, so I convinced my father to let me go too. My brother got a job in Malaysia, and my father borrowed money from everyone he knew to pay for it. That left us deep in debt.
I went for an interview to join the police. They told me I could get the job if I gave them Rs10,000 ($100). How could I afford that?
Someone who worked with me suggested I start selling drugs. This man proposed that I take drugs to India and I would earn Rs25,000 ($250). I agreed to do it with another girl I worked with.
In India we drove to a place with lots of huts and young Nepali girls with make-up standing around half dressed.
I had heard of girls being trafficked to India, so I refused to go inside. I dropped everything and ran out onto the road. Some women ran after me and brought me back. After that I lost consciousness.
When I came to, I was locked in a small room. I started banging on the door. A Nepali girl came and told me that I was in Kashmir and I had been sold for Rs1.25 lakhs ($1,250).
I learned that I was in a brothel with 25 or 30 other women. “There is no point in getting angry. You have to earn, and then you may be able to leave,” another Nepali girl told me. “If you try to run away, they will catch you and kill you”.
I was beaten up every day by four or five men. I was raped and tortured again and again.
All the time I was plotting my escape. There were guards on the doors, so I pretended to be sick. They brought a rickshaw to take me to hospital. On the way I told them that I was going to vomit, and then I leaped off the rickshaw and ran across a busy road. I lived in a gutter for three days.
I found an office that had pictures of Buddha and Mother Theresa, and asked them for help. It turned out to be an NGO, and they helped me return to Nepal.
When I returned I was ashamed and scared. I had no idea what to do.
With the help of SASANE, I work as a paralegal advisor at a police station. I’ve learned a lot about legal issues and people treat me with respect because I am working with the police.
*Not their real name
Narrative provided by Anti-Slavery