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Supriya's story

A promising new job turns awry

When her father died, nine-year-old Supriya was forced to discontinue her studies and help support her family. Soon after, a man arrived at her isolated Nepali village, promising the young girl a job in Kathmandu and she left with him for what seemed like a great job opportunity. For the next three months, Supriya worked various jobs, but she still struggled to contribute significantly to her family. When the same man promised her a better paying job in Darjeeling, Supriya agreed, believing the move would finally free her family from their financial stress. Instead of Darjeeling however, Supriya found herself in Kolkata. There was little reason to complain though as she was tasked with housework in a good apartment, well-fed and provided with pills to make her appear older. Supriya assumed this was her promised job—until one day, the madam took her to a filthy roadside brothel outside the city. At the age of ten, Supriya was raped for the first time. For the next five years, she found herself trafficked to Assam and back to Kolkata. In each brothel, madams told her that if the police found her, they would put her in jail. “You’re already bad,” they would say. “So stay with us and then after a couple of years, you can take your money and go home.” Supriya never got to see or keep any of the promised money.  

Police step in to help Supriya

In 2013, the Kolkata Police’s Immoral Traffic Section, assisted by IJM, attempted a rescue operation to get Supriya out. But traumatised by years of abuse, Supriya was hostile and the team returned without her. Another rescue was attempted a year later, but again, with little success. Finally, on January 14 2015, police coordinated a large rescue operation, releasing Supriya and six other Nepali girls from two different brothels. Supriya was placed in a private shelter home for sex trafficking survivors. She continued to remain hostile, but after months of counselling, she began trusting and confiding in her counsellors. It was then that she spoke of a friend who had been held with her in Assam. Knowing what life beyond sex trafficking could be like, she wanted the same for her friend. After giving a statement to the Child Welfare Committee, Supriya was put in contact with Ms. Tandrima Gupta, Kolkata Police Officer. Together with Gupta, Supriya led police and social workers back to the brothel in Assam. Gupta remembers how brave Supriya was that night. “I told her to cover her face and protect her identity,” Gupta explains, “but she said, ‘I don’t want to hide. I want my traffickers to know I’m helping the police.’” The police did not find Supriya’s friend, but they did rescue four minors. Meanwhile, the Child Welfare Committee permitted Supriya to be repatriated back to Nepal. The Nepalese Consulate in Kolkata and IJM’s social workers found a place for her at a shelter home in Kathmandu and arranged transport. As she boarded the flight, Supriya called Dolphy Biswas, IJM’s Government Relations Coordinator in Kolkata, who had been on the team that relentlessly pursued her case. “I will come back,” she said. “I want to help rescue more girls.”