A 17-year-old girl from North 24-Parganas district who was on the verge of being trafficked but was rescued from a railway station is now talking to girls in her area so they do not fall into a trap like her. She is also counselling survivors to help them regain their confidence.
The girl had befriended a man online on her phone that she used to attend online classes in the pandemic.
In January 2021, the girl, from a remote village, had run away from home as directed by her “online friend” and had travelled about 100km via public transport.
She was rescued because she had not switched off her phone despite being told to do so. Her whereabouts were tracked by police through her phone location, said an NGO worker.
“I use my example to talk to young girls about how I had fallen into a trap thinking I would have a better life than the one I was leading in poverty in my village,” she told The Telegraph.
When she returned home, she was ostracised by her neighbours and some of her friends who refused to speak to her.
“I had to discontinue my tuition because I was made to feel unwanted. Some of my friends were avoiding me. It was a difficult phase,” said the student of Class XII.
Gradually, with counselling sessions and help from NGO Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre (KMWSC), the girl was able to turn her life around.
Many vulnerable girls can relate to her because she is one of them, said a member of the NGO.
“I tell the girls that the shame and guilt that I was made to feel and the ostracism were not mine alone but of my parents as well,” she said.
Initially, after she returned, her phone was taken away and her parents did not trust her.
She slowly earned back their trust.
During the last two years of the pandemic, the use of the phone increased in the villages and these were used as a tool to lure young girls through various social media sites, said an NGO worker.
“I had an account on two social media sites and this person would be showing an interest in all my posts. That is how I became friends with him,” said the girl.
The phase after the girls return home is difficult because they are made to feel guilty, said those working with them.
“For victims of trafficking, the problem is that people do not like to socialise with them. Those who have been trafficked and rescued also have apprehensions and cannot socialise. We have to work with them to help build their confidence,” said Sister Monica Suchiang, director of KMWSC.
The counselling sessions help the women realise that they are not alone and that there are other survivors like them as well, said Nabanita Shome, programme lead, protection and prevention, KMWSC.
“Many of these women have self doubt and the counselling addresses that. The turnaround was not easy for this girl but she has been able to put the past behind her and shown a lot of promise,” said Shome.
Biker killed in accident
A 40-year-old motorcyclist died in a crash after a tow truck allegedly hit the motorcycle on Red Road on Sunday evening.
Amaresh Kumar Singh, a resident of Tiljala, was taken to SSKM Hospital with multiple injuries where he was declared dead, police said.
The cops have arrested the driver and the vehicle. has been impounded.