Freedom Firm first rescued Smita in February 2013 along with 7 other girls from Nagpur’s infamous red-light district. As per Indian law, she was immediately placed in a government protective home where our counsellors were able to interact with her and learn bits and pieces about her past. We had hoped to meet regularly with her to give her counselling and map out a long term rehabilitation and restoration plan with her.

Unfortunately the Child Welfare Committee had other plans for her. They released her only a couple of months later to her mother. On the face of it, the release of a girl to her family may seem like a good thing. Until you realize that it was actually her family that sold her.

Smita comes from the Bedia community in central India, one of the several communities in India that enjoy social sanction to practice and perpetuate trafficking and sexual exploitation of the women and children. Releasing her to her parents almost certainly meant that she would be re-trafficked.

It turned out that this is exactly what happened. Just a few months later, we re-rescued her from the same red-light district. Today she is back in the government shelter home, receiving counseling and vocational training. She admits that she experienced much pain and abuse while she was in prostitution and that she did not want to be in prostitution.

For the moment, the Child Welfare Committee in Nagpur is unwilling to release any girl below the age of 18, so we hope to use the time we have with her to help her heal from her painful past and equip her with the skills and training she needs to move forward.