17 year old Gilli was rescued on 2 December 2021 from a brothel in Varanasi, UP.   She was placed in a shelter home in Varanasi and sent to her home in Asansol, West Bengal, on January 5, 2022.  When we visited Gilli at her home in Asansol on 21 January,  we learned so much about this troubled young minor. 

Gilli, a captive at home

Gilli is one of eight daughters.   Her father earns Rs 200 a day as a daily wage labourer and her mother works as a maid, earning Rs 5000 a month. When Gilli was four years old, she fell down and hurt her head and required a number of stitches as well. Soon after the accident Gilli started getting severely agitated . She was taken to a neurosurgeon who recommended surgery and counselling.  Since Gilli’s parents  were poor, neither option was feasible so Gilli did not receive any medical help. Gilli went through her childhood and teen years struggling with a mental affliction that no one could do anything about. There were days where she ran away from home and had to be brought back by her family. It got so frustrating that her parents kept her shackled in chains at home.   Her response to the chains; banging her head on the wall, not eating food, screaming and shouting.   

When Gilli was 15,  she met Suraj and fell deeply in love with him.  Suraj convinced her to run away with him to Varanasi. Once they were in Varanasi, Suraj  forced Gilli into the sex trade.  Gilli called her parents and  begged them to do something.  She shared that Suraj was beating her and forcing her to sleep with customers. Her parents asked her to come home.  When she said she had no money. They told her there was nothing they could do.  They had no money either- with 7 other mouths to feed getting Gilli back was not a priority.

Soon Gilli got pregnant. She wasn’t sure who the father was. Suraj told her he would look after her and the baby when the baby was born.  After Gilli’s daughter was born, she left her with Suraj’s parents and continued to work in the brothel.  

Gilli’s rescue in Varanasi

Two years later on 2 December 2021,  Gilli was rescued.  Suraj, his parents and Gilli’s daughter were not at home or at the brothel.  Gilli was produced before a magistrate who after listening to her story ordered that she be sent to a shelter home in Varanasi. Thanks to Gilli’s 164 statement Suraj and his parents were listed as accused. Gilli cried constantly at the shelter home, she pleaded with everyone to send her back home. Her parents kept contacting the Child Welfare Committee, CWC,  in Varanasi asking them to send Gilli home, promising to keep her safe and giving them a guarantee that they will ensure she never gets back into the trade.  The CWC finally relented and sent her home on 5 January 2022.

Our social worker and Gilli (a few minutes before she ran away)

After hearing Gilli’s heartbreaking story at her home in  Asansol on 21 January 2022,  we were returning home when we got a call from Gilli’s father, barely 30-45 minutes after our visit. Gilli had run away from home again. Her father shared he was sure she ran away with Suraj, back to Varanasi.  

Since we had Suraj’s photograph with us, we sent it through a whatsapp message to the police station in Varanasi immediately . Tuesday early morning Suraj and his parents were all arrested from their home in Varanasi (Gilli’s 164 statement and for violating the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.)  Gilli’s daughter was reunited with her and both were sent to a shelter home in Varanasi.  Gilli turned against us and told the police that we coerced her to file a complaint against Suraj, who she kept claiming was her husband.  

Today Gilli is at the shelter home with her daughter.  As soon as we get permission from the CWC, we will start counselling,life skills and vocational training with Gilli. We are confident that with constant care, love and attention Gilli will become the woman she is meant to be.