When Bengal was celebrating the homecoming of her daughter, a minor girl from the state was rescued from the clutches of alleged traffickers in Goa.
A 17-year-old girl from South Dinajpur was rescued from a house near a beach in south Goa on October 12 (Saptami).
A team from Bengal police left for Goa on Tuesday to bring the teenager back. The girl is in a shelter home in Goa.
“She was locked inside a small house that stood in the middle of a patch of land dotted with palm trees. A road that leads to the beach cuts across the patch. The greenery seemed an ideal cover for the house,” said Virender Kumar Singh of Mission Mukti Foundation, one of the two NGOs that coordinated with the local police to rescue the girl.
The girl is said to have told counsellors that she was abused regularly. “Her tormentors wanted to force her into prostitution. She got beaten up for protesting,” said Singh.
A 35-year-old man allegedly trafficked the girl. “He came to Goa and stayed with the girl. But he was not in the house during the raid,” said Singh.
The teenager was missing from October 3, according to a police complaint filed at Patiram police station in South Dinajpur. “She was lured by a man with the false promise of marriage. Her family is very poor. Her father is a daily wage earner. The girl fell for the trap of a better life,” said an officer of the police station.
Women from south Bengal are trafficked to destinations across India but six out of 10 are taken to Maharashtra. Delhi and surrounding areas, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Goa also account for good numbers.
At least 15 women from Bengal have been rescued from Goa since 2017, according to records of a string of NGOs that work for the rehabilitation of trafficking victims.
The economic devastation caused by the Covid pandemic has left countless families in extreme poverty, much more deprived than they were.
The daughters in these families have become much more vulnerable. This newspaper has carried multiple reports on a spike in child marriages — often the first step towards being trafficked — during the lockdown.
The teenager from south Dinajpur managed to call his parents from the phone of her alleged trafficker, following which the police in north Bengal contacted Mission Mukti Foundation. The police had also sent the agency the phone number of the alleged trafficker. The foundation, with the help of Bengal CID, Goa police and another NGO called World Vision, traced the location to south Goa.