Many of the girls Freedom Firm has rescued are originally from West Bengal. They have similar stories about how they were trafficked … how they were so poor that when they were promised a better job, they jumped at the chance. Or how the promise of love and acceptance made them blindly follow their traffickers into the unknown.

For Mithu, it was love that captured her. Sold by her then ‘boyfriend’ and trafficked into Pune’s red-light area, she remained trapped in the brothels for 3 years until Freedom Firm investigators found and rescued her in 2010. She was 15 at the time.

I remember going with another social worker to do her home inquiry. We often do not have proper addresses and have to ask around, sometimes quite a bit, before we find a victim’s house. When we went to do Mithu’s HIR (Home Investigation Report), we didn’t even have an address. All we had was a vague idea of the district she lived in. Sadly, despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find her house on that visit. Later though, we learnt the name of the school she had studied in.  So we went to her school, inquired after her and managed to get a home address.

We found that Mithu came from a broken home. Her parents had separated when she was young and her mother was now living with another man. After being rescued, she was very excited about returning home and living with her mother. But something must have happened because she did not stay there for long and instead went to stay with her father. I asked her why she left, but Mithu is quite shy and wouldn’t open up about that.

When she was living with her father she also started to look for another job. Their neighbour told her that she knew of a good job. Trusting the neighbour whom her father had known for many years, she went along with her for the new job. And just like that, she was re-trafficked, this time into Sonagachi, Asia’s largest red-light area. When she was back in the brothel for the second time I think she felt like her life was over, but praise God that she was only there for 7 days!  This just happened at the end of February 2015.

When I heard that she had been re-trafficked, I was shocked! I try to follow up on girls every month over the phone and had spoken to her a couple of weeks earlier. She had talked to me about the boy she was seeing and how happy she was with him. Things were going well for her.

But within 2-3 weeks she had been re-trafficked! It took me a while to process the information. I couldn’t understand how she could believe the same story, the same lies. She should have known better! This was not the first time she was trafficked, so how could she fall for the same ruse so easily?

She told me that this was someone she had trusted and so never even thought to be suspicious. Thankfully, while she was in the brothel, she managed to call her boyfriend and tell him what had happened. He immediately came to rescue her and together, they escaped.

After escaping from the brothel, Mithu did not return home but instead married her boyfriend and moved to another city with him. She told me that she thinks that her father was having a relationship with the neighbour who trafficked her and she wasn’t sure if he was complicit in her trafficking.

I think her parents’ separation and the subsequent estranged relationship she had with them had been hard on her. But now she has found someone who knew about her past and still loved her, who was brave enough to come rescue her and then marry her. She is finally happy and seems to have found the love and joy she deeply yearns for.