Story of Roshni
As a child, I lived with my parents and my older sister and brother in a village in Andhra Pradesh. I was the favorite child and my sister was jealous of me. She was horrible, always telling me to get out of the house. When I was twelve years old a boy named Rajesh fell in love with me. My parents were trying to arrange my marriage with another boy, so Rajesh threatened to kill him. This worry and my sister’s behavior drove me to run away from home.
I travelled by bus to another village where I met a couple who said I could be their daughter and live with them. They were very kind, good people, but their son was not. He wanted to marry me and, although I didn’t like him, I agreed to marry him because of his parents. My husband did not take care of me well. He would leave me for weeks at a time. I became pregnant very quickly and because no one helped to look after me, I had a miscarriage.
My husband asked me to go to the city to work as a maid, so he could buy a rickshaw. I did not want to go. Every day he beat me and said, “Get ready to go”, so finally, I agreed to go. While in the city, a lady named Laxmi came and took me to a place that looked like a club. I was told that I would be scrubbing floors for actors and actresses. But that night they sent a customer in to me. He started to touch me and I began to cry, hit and bite him. The customer realized that I was not willing to be there. When I told him I had just arrived that day, he said, “Please don’t waste your life. Get away from here as soon as possible.”
I realized why I was there and was very frightened. I still had a little hope that maybe I could go back and be with my husband again. But after six months, I realized that I wasn’t going back. Every day I was forced to sleep with many men. If I refused or complained they beat me.
So one morning I got up, took my tip money with me, and ran away. I wanted to catch a train or bus back to my home. On the bus a lady pretended to help me, but took me to another red light district and sold me. I was working there for one month and then I ran away again. I ran back to the same lady who sold me because I didn’t know where else to go.
Fortunately, a kind “aunty” allowed me to do her housework and live with her. But my last trafficker found me and she started beating me. She took a knife to try and kill me. I got away and went back to Goa. I went to the red light area because I didn’t know where else to go.
I met a man who claimed that I was like his little sister. He said, “In Bombay I have a friend who needs a nanny to watch his children.” I agreed but when we got to Mumbai he took me straight to the red light area. I was very sad to be stuck in the red light district again. Whenever I ran away to good places, people always thought I was bad and brought me back there.
I was working in that brothel for eight months. During that time, there was a man who walked by every day and looked at me. He knew I didn’t want to be there. He drew a picture of my face and gave the picture to the police. Soon afterwards, the police inspector came to the brothel and found me hiding in a bathroom.
I was rescued and taken to the police station. I told the police I wanted to stay in a hostel, so they put me in a remand home in Mumbai and from there I went to the Oasis home and then to Ooty with Freedom Firm.
This is Roshni’s story. She was a broken girl when she came to us in Ooty and over our two years with her we had the privilege of helping her grow into a mature young woman. She studied English, Math, Hindi, history, and geography alongside other rescued girls. She also learned Aari bead work and made a good salary doing Aari and jewelry. After graduating from Freedom Firm’s Standing Strong program, Roshni decided to go back to her village, where she is now living and doing well.
* Name changed