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Trafficked Bangladeshi girl to be sent home

She was rescued from Sonagachhi on May 30, 2017, by police and has since been living at a rehabilitation centre
The girl was 15 when she came to Calcutta in April 2017. Instead of a steady income, the next two months allegedly had captivity and repeated rapes in store.

Debraj Mitra   |   Calcutta   |   Published 21.01.21, 02:45 AM

A Bangladeshi girl allegedly trafficked to Calcutta with the bait of a job and rescued from Sonagachhi four years ago is set to return home this month.

The girl was 15 when she came to Calcutta in April 2017. Instead of a steady income, the next two months allegedly had captivity and repeated rapes in store. She was rescued from Sonagachhi on May 30, 2017, by police and has since been living at a rehabilitation centre. Five alleged traffickers were arrested.

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The department of women and child development and social welfare of the state government has recently issued a travel permit to the survivor. She will have to spend three months under observation at a shelter in Bangladesh before she can reunite with her family, said a lawyer who represented her.

Upon receiving the news, the girl is said to have told her counsellors that she was happy but wanted to continue the legal fight against the alleged traffickers and spread awareness on trafficking in Bangladesh. Last month, she testified in court, identifying her alleged tormentors.

On January 12, a Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) court granted an interim compen-sation of Rs 50,000 for the survivor.

“This is the first time that a court in Bengal awarded interim compensation to a victim of sex trafficking who is a foreign national,” said an official of the International Justice Mission, an NGO that helped the police in the rescue and has been instrumental in the rehabilitation of the girl.

The compensation money will be spent on her immediate rehabilitation, the court said.

“She said she would want to use the cash to continue her education,” said Piyali Mukherjee Sarkar, an IJM lawyer who represented the survivor.

The girl has told the police and counsellors that her father is an auto driver. “She was good in studies but the family was poor. A family friend offered to take her to Calcutta to work in a garment factory,” said Mukherjee Sarkar.

She was first taken to an apartment off the EM Bypass, where she spent a couple of weeks before being shifted to Sonagachhi.

“She was also forced to take medicines to appear more physically developed than her age,” said a police officer.

Among the five alleged traffickers arrested were the family friend and the owner of the brothel in Sonagachhi where the survivor was kept.

The accused have been slapped with IPC sections 370 (trafficking), 366B (import of a girl from another country), 373 (buying a minor for prostitution), 376 (rape) and 467 (forging documents), and also some sections of the Pocso Act and the Foreigners Act.

If convicted, they can be jailed for life.

“This order not only reflects increased sensitivity and proactiveness of the judicial and government stakeholders towards a sex-trafficking case, but also a progressive application of laws, especially on foreign victim compensation,” said Saptarshi Biswas, the director of legal solutions, IJM, Calcutta.



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