Laxmi* is from West Bengal, in the North-East of India. When she was ten, her mother died. Her father fell ill and she went to Calcutta to find work to help the family. She looked for work all over but couldn’t find any. It was raining very heavily and she sat down in a train station despondent and soaking wet. A sympathetic woman approached her, bought her sweets and promised her a well-paid sewing job. Instead, Laxmi was drugged and put on a train to a distant city.

Laxmi ended up in a far away city at a big house where there were lots of pretty girls. The lady who had brought Laxmi talked to another lady who seemed to own the place and money was exchanged. One girl sitting there tried to warn Laxmi that she was being sold but Laxmi didn’t know what to do, she was very scared. The lady who brought her from Calcutta left the brothel. When Laxmi tried to leave she was stopped by the brothel keeper and told that they had paid a lot of money for her and that she owed them thousands of rupees and would have to have sex with customers until she had paid off the debt.

For two years she was made to sleep with several men a day and suffered additional abuse from the brothel keeper. Occasionally the police would raid the brothel and the brothel keeper would hide Laxmi under the water tank on the roof until they were gone. Laxmi was sold three times before she was found and rescued from a brothel in Mumbai.

She said that it has been very hard for her to forgive the men that abused her; that she wanted to kill them. Over the years Laxmi has experienced significant healing from the trauma of her abuse. She is part of Freedom Firm’s “Helping Girls Stand Alone” program, and is training to become a social worker. She has a passion for helping other girls who are trapped the same way she was six years ago.

* Name changed