In November 2014, Maya*, a fifteen-year-old girl from Varanasi, was met by a trafficker near her home. He convinced her to leave her community and transported her to Mumbai, where she was locked in a room and repeatedly raped and exploited by the trafficker. This went on for about one month. The trafficker began telling Maya that he was planning to sell her to another person.
After Maya was taken to Mumbai, her family went to the local police station to register a case. However, the police refused, and sent them back home, telling them to find the girl themselves. After repeated attempts, a case was registered through the intervention of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Varanasi under sections of the Indian Penal Code. The family was supported by Guria’s legal team, who informed the family that they would provide free legal aid and assistance to help rescue Maya from her situation in Mumbai. Guria’s team met with the Senior Superintendent of Police to discuss the case and drafted letters that were shared with other authorities. As a result of these efforts, a police team and representatives from Guria travelled to Mumbai for the recovery of the victim.
On 13 December 2014, police representatives and Guria staff assisted in liberating Maya. At the same time, the trafficker was arrested. Guria staff members assisted police in the completion of legal documentation, ensured that Maya received a proper medical examination and treatment, and assisted in the process of recording her statement. Maya received trauma-informed counselling support, witness protection, and livelihood support by Guria. Guria also helped her return to her family.
Eventually, the case went to trial in Varanasi District and all witnesses were examined by the trial court. Guria’s legal team presented the final argument. As a result of the evidence provided, the accused trafficker was found guilty and in 2017 was sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years.
Maya is now living at home and continuing her education.
*Name changed to protect the identity of the victim.
The Freedom Fund’s Northern India Hotspot aims to reduce trafficking, bonded labour and harmful child labour in two of India’s poorest states. Working with frontline organisations, we help communities build resistance to trafficking and slavery and reintegrate individuals coming out of situations of exploitation. Find out more about the Freedom Fund’s Northern India Hotspot.
Photo credit: Atul Loke, Legatum Limited, 2017