Nirmala Kumari (name changed), a minor tribal girl from Khunti, was thrilled by the prospect of visiting Delhi. So she did not stop to think when a neighbour offered to take her there and promptly said yes. Little did she know that only slogging, that too for over 10 hours a day, and not sightseeing awaited her.
“A village man, Laxman, (she only remembers the first name) asked me whether I could go to Delhi with him for sightseeing. I got excited and said yes. But he left me at a house where I had to mop floors, clean utensils and wash clothes. I carried on like this for about a month when one day, my employer beat me up as I did not know how to make chapattis. The next morning, I fled,” said Nirmala, a victim of trafficking who was rescued and brought to the state capital by an NGO, Bharatiya Kishan Sangh.
Twenty-six other girls, who were rescued from different places of Delhi, had similar stories to share. While a few of them claimed they had gone to Delhi in search of livelihood, most said they were lured away by known people, mostly relatives.
“I stayed and worked in a house for more than a year. But my employer used to beat me up. One morning, I ran away and reached the railway station. I was planning to board a train to Jharkhand but police caught me and put me at a girls’ home,” said Chandni (name changed), a resident of Goelkera in West Singhbhum, who was also taken to Delhi by a relative.
Like Chandni, many trafficked girls spent more than a year working as domestic helps. And nearly, all said they were tortured and physically assaulted by their employers.
Sanjay Kumar Mishra, coordinator of Bharatiya Kishan Sangh who had been camping in Delhi for the past two weeks while the rescue operation was on, said most of the girls were lured away by middlemen. “From April till date, we rescued 94 girls who were trafficked to Delhi, where they were employed as domestic maids. In nearly all cases, the middlemen were distant relatives,” Mishra said.
He added that the family members of the victims had been traced and in a few days’ time, the girls would be sent to their homes.