Survivor’s World


Watch one of the survivors share her story

These fragile bodies have seen so much abuse

Some girls are sold into the trade even before they can reach puberty. Their fragile and underdeveloped bodies are pumped with growth inducing hormone Oxytocin. Shapeless bodies start filling out and hallucinations, anaemia, vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures and high blood pressure, all side effects of the hormone, become constant companions throughout these young girls’ lives.

Teenage pregnancies are common occurrences and so are multiple abortions that often lead to health issues like hernia, anaemia, imbalanced hormones and other reproductive issues. In time many girls contract sexually transmitted diseases, some receive treatment and get better, others succumb to life threatening illnesses and die lonely deaths believing that they were totally useless, unworthy of a single person’s love.

Our first rescue

12 year old at a truck stop brothel

On 6 May, 2006 in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, Freedom Firm rescued 12 year old Karishma who was born into the Devadasi community. Karishma was forced into prostitution by her grandmother. 


The delay from the police in responding to our evidence of a minor engaged in prostitution resulted in Karishma disappearing from the brothel. After 6 long months we tracked her to a truck stop brothel.  This time the police moved in immediately and she was rescued.

After 3 months in Freedom Firm’s aftercare facility in Ooty, Tamil Nadu,  Karishma was transferred to a government remand home. After spending a few years in different government remand homes, in 2009 she was back in Freedom Firm aftercare facility learning jewellery design. 

Today Karishma lives in North Karnataka with her two children.


Meerganj red-light area, Allahabad

We found this girl hidden inside a wall

In February 2015, Freedom Firm investigators located three minors engaged in prostitution in the Meerganj red-light area in Allahabad. For over three months our team tried to gain police cooperation to conduct a raid and rescue the minors.

On the day of the rescue, due to the police not acting immediately our  investigators had to contain the girls and the brothel keeper in the brothel so they wouldn’t escape.

The investigators turned down an offer of money from the brothel keeper to let them all go! Finally, the police arrived but the investigators were in for a shock when they realized that 3 girls had become only 2 in all the commotion! After a thorough search, the smallest girl was found hiding in a shelf built into the wall.


At 11 years, she was the youngest girl we rescued

Preeti (name changed) was from the Bedia community and sold into the trade by her mother and aunt. When our investigators first saw Preeti, she was petite and slim when they saw her next, she had gained a few inches on her chest and hips, indicating that her body had been pumped with growth inducing hormones. This 11 year old was made to look like 16! Her aunt is well known in the red light area in Ganga Jamuna in Nagpur and is responsible for trafficking many young girls into the trade. 

When Preeti was in a shelter home in Nagpur, her aunt tried to secure custody of her with fake documents stating that she was her mother. Our social workers intervened and she was denied custody of Preeti.  Preeti trained with a freedom business and learned how to make jewellery.


Maya was rescued by Freedom Firm in 2007. In 2008 she joined Freedom Firm’s aftercare home in Ooty and spent a year learning the basics in creating jewelry, While she was in Ooty she expressed a desire to go home. After her rescue, we learned that her parents had died when she was a young child. After she reached the village she expected to be welcomed with open arms. When she showed her photos of Ooty to the villagers, in unison they agreed and pleaded with her to go back to wherever she came from, they reminded her that they never took care of her when she was in the village and they were not going to take care of her even now.

There were no words of encouragement and support to what she was doing at FF, for them it was enough if there was someone who was willing to cloth her and feed her.


Reshma’s father got her married to Jamir. Only after her marriage she found out that Jamir was already a married man. Jamir’s brother told her that he would take her to Mumbai in India where they would get good jobs and earn money. Reshma agreed and was brought to India and sold into a brothel in Pune in 2007. The first few days Reshma refused to prostitute. But after 10 days, she realized she has been cheated by her brother in law and her husband and that they aren’t coming back. She was rescued a month later by Freedom Firm and placed in a shelter home. She returned home after three months.
She testified boldly against Pramila, the brothel keeper in September 2011. Today Reshma is happily married to Alamgir. He knows everything about her past but has accepted her and loves her. In fact, even her coming to India was possible because of the support of her husband.


We found Anju’s* home in a small town in Bagalkot District, Karnataka. Her ‘grandfather’ (or so he was called because he looked after her when her mother died 5 years ago) gave us a photograph torn in two pieces. It was a picture of Anju, taken four years earlier. Anju looked pretty,was smiling and there was no sign of brokenness … and then someone tore her in two. She was the same girl we rescued from a brothel in Maharashtra, 200 kilometres away from home.
Long before she was put in the brothel, Anju was dedicated to the goddess Yellama. Her destiny was sealed at the age of 3. She would not be allowed to get married, and when the time came, she would be abused by any man that wanted her. There is nothing sudden about the process; the tear in her life began when she was a child.
After her rescue, Anju was placed in a Government Remand Home. Her rescue has given her a chance to heal and mend.


Jaya* is found in Ganga Jamuna, Nagpur’s red-light area. She looks 13 to 14 years old and reveals that she has to sleep with 20-25 customers a day, a staggering number, but she is very pretty and in high demand. The Freedom Firm investigator who found her noticed she walked stiffly, “bow-legged”from the pain of so many encounters. He told her he felt sorry for her and used it as his excuse for not having sex. Jaya also admitted that she wanted out, a rare confession in this brutal industry where no one can be trusted. Jaya was in the area for almost two months.

She was rescued by Freedom Firm in January 2014. She was in the brothel for 10-15 days. After spending a few months in a government shelter home. She was reunited with her family.


In February, 2017 Freedom Firm investigators and local police rescued Poonam* from Nagpur’s Ganga Jamuna red-light area. She was placed in a government shelter home. In March, our social workers visited Poonam’s house in Rajasthan. When they asked about Poonam her uncle, infuriated by our questioning responded by saying, “Whatever you do for Poonam, remember that I can have her released from the shelter home in 2 days!” It was evident that Poonam’s family was complicit in her trafficking.

Making good on his threat, in April, Poonam was released to her relatives. Not long after that, she was seen in the red-light area by Freedom Firm’s investigators.Poonam was rescued in September and was placed in the government shelter home.
It occasionally takes two rescues and sometimes even three to convince government authorities that releasing a girl to her family is the same as giving her back to her traffickers.


Farida had gone to her aunt’s place for her holidays. During a family squabble, she she ran away from home and decided to go home to Ahmednagar, but she took the train to Pune instead of Ahmednagar. When she reached Pune she was confused and scared because it was a new place. She roamed around for a while and at that point a lady came and took her to Budhwarpet, Pune’s red-light area. She was sold into prostitution and was rescued a month later by Freedom Firm on 12th June 2008. In the shelter home she learned to make jewellery. She returned home in a year and later got married in 2012 and has been reintegrated into society.


Mimi used to go to a temple ten minutes away from her home. During one such visit she befriended a couple who persistently offered her a job. She refused several times but they continued to persuade her. One day when they met at a shopping mall the couple offered her a cup of tea after which she wasn’t able to stand. She was forced to board a train to Pune and was sold into prostitution in Budhwarpet, Pune’s red-light
area. She spent several months in prostitution and was rescued in December 2008.
Mimi was sent to a government shelter home and later returned home to her family.


When Serina went missing from her home in West Bengal her father immediately filed a missing complaint. When he heard that Serina must be in Pune, Maharashtra his worst fears were confirmed. She was trafficked and sold into prostitution. In early September 2010, Serina’s parents accompanied the West Bengal police to look for their daughter in Pune. Along with Freedom Firm investigators and local police, they searched the buildings where Serina was last seen. The next morning Serina’s father accompanied the Pune Crime Branch and the Freedom Firm team and entered the brothel where she was last seen.

Serina was rescued the next day. She returned home with her family. Today, she is married and enjoys bringing up her children in the same place where she spent her childhood.


Mina was rescued in Ganga-Jamuna, Pune’s infamous red-light area. Mina’s family lived in Uttar Pradesh. Mina had no inclinations to study so her father helped her find a job at a private limited company dealing with electronics. She worked there for a month. One day when she was walking back home when a car pulled up in front of her. Two men, a lady and the driver asked me for directions. As she began telling them, they began to threaten her and told her to sit in the car. She hurriedly got into the car, began to panic and to wonder what was happening to her. She was taken to a place late at night but she didn’t know where she was. She was kept in a room for a month and a half. She attempted to run away from there several times. On one attempt she escaped and came to the railway station to catch a train to go back home. She hastily decided that she would make a living on her own and hopped onto a train. A lady named Madhu began to speak to her. Mina shared her story with Madhu and she offered to help Mina find a job. She was brought to Pune and sold to Bali , the brothel keeper. Bali never gave her money but gave her food and clothes in exchange for having sex with customers.

Mina was rescued by Freedom Firm in 2014. Today she is reunited with her family.


In April 2018, Samita*, a 16 – 18-year-old girl was rescued in an operation conducted by Freedom Firm’s intervention team and the local police in Ganga Jamuna, Nagpur. Freedom Firm investigators first identified her in the month of February but were not able to engage her until April 4th. Samita was found with a missing left ear and half of her right ear as the result of a congenital condition. Samita is completely deaf. She also had untreated eye infections. In the brothel, our team found a birth certificate in Samita’s possession which indicated that she was born in August 1998, making her 19 years old and a major.Surprisingly, in the same brothel, our team found her mother’s and father’s ID card copies that stated her father was 33 and her mother was 31. Her mother would have had to be 11 or 12 when she gave birth to Samita, which is improbable.

Samita was placed in a shelter home after her rescue.


Nazma was rescued by Freedom Firm in 2010 in Pune, almost 2000 kilometres from her home in Kolkata. Her father, a tailor, wanted to educate his children, but that dream never became a reality. Instead, Nazma was trafficked. After her rescue and subsequent release from the shelter home, Nazma came back to Kolkata and began working with Ruhamah Designs in May 2013.

Unfortunately, in July 2016, Raihan, her husband refused to allow Nazma to continue working at Ruhamah so she reluctantly left her job. A year after Nazma left Ruhamah she decided to separate from Raihan.Nazma was often treated badly by his first wife and Raihan had been physically abusive and unfaithful.

In 2018, Nazma was called to testify against her traffickers. Her husband Raihan, however, didn’t seem too pleased. He pressured her to withdraw the case but Nazma would not give in. The next day we were told that Nazma had been murdered by Raihan the previous night. He had taken her to the outskirts of the village and slit her throat with a sharp weapon. I think it’s possible that Raihan was involved in her trafficking or that the traffickers had bribed him to kill Nazma. He was arrested the next day and remains in jail.Nazma paid the ultimate price for pursuing justice.


Namrata left home in 2010 after a fight with her family. Hoping to find work she went to the railway station and waited to board a train. At the station, three men approached her and began a conversation. Young, tired and desperate she confessed that she had fought with her parents and was looking for a job. She gullibly accepted their offer of help and a drink that was spiked. When she came to her senses she realised that she had been sold to a brothel in Maharashtra.

Few months later, Freedom Firm’s investigators found her and informed the police. After her rescue, she returned to her hometown. Two years ago she graduated from High school and is now studying History in a college in her hometown. Her dream is to become a police officer. A social worker visits her regularly to provide encouragement and motivate her to continue her studies.

Namrata is married and has a 4 month old daughter.



Rescued three times

Sajini* was trapped in Nagpur’s red-light district, and she had lost hope of any escape. She was rescued by the police but was immediately released back into the red-light area. Then on 13th May 2011 Sajini was rescued by Freedom Firm. She was just 15 years old. She was placed at a short-stay home for six months. Sadly, she was released when her previous brothel keeper produced fake documents claiming that she was Sajini’s mother. Our investigators found her again and rescued her for the third time in the red-light district on 26th August 2011.

Sajini stayed at the shelter home for almost a year. She grew close to several social workers at Freedom Firm and confided that she wanted to transfer to a shelter home in her home state in Rajasthan. Our social worker visited the shelter home and represented Sajini’s case. In a week she was transferred to a shelter home in Rajasthan. The same year she was released to her parents when she turned 18.

Today, Sajini is married to a post-graduate and lives with her in-laws. She works at home – its work that she loves. She has two children. “I like my life better now because I am home, married and live with people who love and care for me.” says Sajini solemnly.

*Name changed to protect identity


Kirti* was rescued on January 8, 2015 from a brothel in Meerganj, the red-light area in Allahabad, U.P. Kirti is the youngest of 5 sisters and was brought to the red-light area by one of her sisters. She was there for 2-3 months before her rescue. None of her family members visited her. Kirti’s family was complicit in her trafficking.

Kirti was the first girl to be rescued by Freedom Firm in Allahabad. Though we have tried to stay connected with her family and Komal, we are unaware of Kirti’s whereabouts and fear that she might be retrafficked. The reason that her family tells us for her not being at home is that she is married, or she’s gone to visit a temple.


Ruchi, a 17-year-old, was hidden inside the brothel and only brought out when the customers specifically wanted a ‘young’ girl. The day that Freedom Firm had planned, the police cancelled the rescue operation because the red-light area was alerted and the brothel where Ruchi was hidden was closed. The brothel keeper was gone and only a few customers and women were around.
On February 17th, five days after our first attempt to rescue Ruchi, the red-light area had relaxed and business “as usual” had resumed. Freedom Firm rescued Ruchi that afternoon from the red-light area in Nagpur, Maharashtra with the help of local police. Ruchi is now at a short stay home where Freedom Firm social workers visit her and the two other girls to extend friendship, counselling and to assess their medical needs and to provide whatever help they can.


Parveen was rescued in March 2011 from Nagpur. Being deaf and dumb, it was easy for the brothel keepers to take advantage of her as she was unable to defend herself or even seek help from others as communication was a huge challenge. After her rescue, she was placed in the care of the government shelter home. One of her traffickers posed as her mother and even brought a fake ID card. But when the police brought Parveen’s real mother, the truth finally came out.
She eventually went back to her village to live with her mother and sister. Freedom Firm social workers stood with Parveen and her family when she was pregnant and in labour. They took Parveen to the hospital. A few hours later, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Today, both mother and baby are healthy and doing well.


Rina was only 3 years old when her mother passed away. After her mother’s death her father remarried and Rina was brought up by her grandfather along with her mother’s brothers. When she was old enough she was sent to school and worked as a labourer. She stopped studying when her father became ill. Her father passed away when she was 13.

During this time she met a boy called Raju and fell in love. Raju didn’t allow Rina to introduce him to her uncle. He told her that he worked as a driver in a neighbouring district. One day he told her he was taking her to his sister’s house. On the way he gave her a drink that made her unconscious. When she woke up she was in Pune, almost 2000 kilometres from home in West Bengal. She was sold to a brothel keeper for Rs.70,000. The brothel keeper told Rina that she had to repay the money and only then could she leave the brothel. Rina was very thin before she came to the brothel and was forced to take tablets that increased her appetite. She was rescued by Freedom Firm in 2012.

Today, she is married and well cared for by her husband’s family in West Bengal.



Sartika, a 15-year-old, was trafficked from West Bengal to Pune by someone known to her family from her village. She was sold to Deepa Kesi, the brothel keeper and was forced into prostitution. Sartika later told Freedom Firm’s social workers that she was given some hormone pills to show that her body was well developed and attractive and as a result she looked very plump. Deepa Kesi was arrested at the time of the rescue operation.
Sartika returned home after a year in the government shelter home. She got married and has a young child. Her husband and in-laws know about her past and support her with her case against the trafficker.


Prena* a 14-year-old girl was forced to prostitute in Mumbai by Priya, Bindoo Khalkor’s daughter. Bindoo Khalkor is the main accused in Reema’s case, a girl previously rescued by Freedom Firm. Bindoo had to attend a court date in Nagpur to testify in Reema’s* case on Thursday. Surprisingly, she came along with Prena. We discovered later that another anti-trafficking organization had identified Prena in prostitution in Mumbai, tried to rescue her but were not successful. Bindoo brought Prena to Nagpur to keep her from being rescued in Mumbai. When Bindoo was in court, the police noticed her with Prena and notified our staff.
Prena was seen in the same brothel where Reema was found, with wounds on her body from the horrific abuses she faced at the hands of her customers and brothel keeper.
With the help of the Nagpur police, Prena was rescued that week. She was placed in a shelter home after her rescue.


Shireen was reported to have been sold to a brothel in Pune. When our Pune office was notified, we thought it would be an easy rescue operation. But Shireen was transported to three metropolitan cities in India for 6 months as Freedom Firm staff gathered leads, collaborated with independent investigators and lawyers before they were able to rescue her in January 2020, exactly 6 months after we were alerted.

Because she was young, from Bangladesh and only shown to customers in apartment buildings, the accused were cautious whenever a customer called. We learned later that the apartment which the trafficker had been renting was also being used as a brothel.
Shireen is safe now. Three traffickers were arrested that day and sent to jail.