West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district has become a hub from where girls are trafficked into the commercial sex trade. Shiv Sahay Singh reports on thestruggle for compensation and dignity of those fortunate enough to have been rescued
Serina (23) was rescued from a brothel in Kalyan, a Mumbai suburb, on December 14, 2016. She was put on a train on February 2, 2017. The journey to her home State, West Bengal, lasted two days. She had to spend some more days at a shelter in Madhyamgram town in North 24 Parganas before being reunited with her family — after one year — in South 24 Parganas district on February 18. Like many women who had been trafficked into sex work and subsequently rescued, Serina doesn’t like anyone visiting her at her home, where she lives with her three unmarried sisters, all younger than her. She prefers to travel 20 km so that she can meet us at the office of an NGO in the Gokulpara area of Canning subdivision.
Like Serina, 28-year-old Meher-un Nisa also avoids meeting outsiders at her home. “My return from Pune in early 2017 led to a social boycott of our family. Even buying daily groceries had become a challenge. I did not step out from home for months,” says Meher-un Nisa, whose village is also in Canning. After her rescue, it took her almost a year to muster the courage to visit a police station and lodge a complaint against the man who had trafficked her. That man was her husband. Having tricked her into marrying him, he took her to Pune on the pretext of getting her a job, and sold her to a brothel. These days she travels regularly to Kolkata to arrange the documents needed to apply for victim compensation.