MUMBAI, INDIA – The hazy midday heat for those on the streets of Mumbai on Wednesday 5 April...
Encouraged by the police and IJM, Farah takes control of her life
Submitted by Anonymous on 14 April 2014
With a team of police officers and IJM staff, Farah confidently marches through a bar in a Mumbai suburb and opens the door to a storage room. She explains how the room was routinely transformed into a ‘sex room’ for the bar customers.
In the last two days, Farah has led the police to six different crime locations associated with her case. She has neither addresses nor maps to guide her; instead, she draws from her keen memory and a newfound resolution to do whatever is necessary to see her abusers prosecuted.
Trafficked By The Man She Cared For
Farah grew up in Kolkata and moved with her older sister to Mumbai when she was 15. One day, when Farah entered her home, she stumbled upon a horrific sight—her sister hanging from a ceiling fan, dead. Her brother-in-law and nephew had disappeared.
Alone in the city, Farah began working as a domestic maid. On her route to work, she met a man named Sabal*. He claimed he loved her and wanted to provide her with a safe home. Taken in by his kindness, Farah willingly followed Sabal as he led her to a nearby slum area, where he introduced her to a woman name Kalyani*. Kalyani promised to take care of her.
A few days later, Kalyani brought a strange man to the shack. She locked him inside with Farah and guarded the entrance as Farah was raped for the first time. She then told Farah that from that day on, she would be a sex worker at a local bar. If she resisted, Farah would be badly beaten. As Farah was trapped under Kalyani's constant supervision, all the money other men paid to rape Farah went directly to Kalyani.
A month later, Sabal returned to see Farah. Farah told him how Kalyani had abused her, but Sabal finally revealed himself to be her “owner”, rather than her rescuer. He not only profited as strangers repeatedly raped Farah at the bar, but also sexually assaulted her when she was at his home.
Healing After Months of Abuse
Eight months later however, Farah and another girl were rescued by the police and IJM staff. The other girl’s mother had filed a missing person’s complaint for her daughter several weeks earlier. In pursuing her case, police was able to rescue Farah as well.
“Farah was emotionally numb and confused after the rescue,” says Walesa, an IJM social worker. “As soon as her emotional and physical health improved, she began to realise that she was not ‘guilty’, and that what she had been forced to do was illegal.” Encouraged by the support of both IJM and the police, Farah decided to fight for justice.
Motivated by Justice
During the ensuing investigation, Farah led the police to Kalyani’s home, Sabal’s home and every other location where she had been raped. Through Farah’s sharp memory and determination, the police were able to locate and arrest Kalyani. Sabal’s whereabouts are unknown, though the police continue to search for him.
Meanwhile, Farah has started planning for her future. Since her rescue, she has completed two years of schooling, and is keen to pursue further studies. Walesa is impressed by Farah’s maturity. “She thought that being a sex worker was her fate. Now she has realised her own motivation. Farah’s determination has encouraged us all.”
*Names have been changed to protect identity.