Seven women, trafficked from Bangladesh for commercial sex work, continue to languish at the Government Vigilance Home at Mylapore here as procedures to repatriate them drag on.

Though the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act stipulates that trafficked women should not be held in custody for more than three weeks, the women have been at the Home for over six months. They are not allowed to contact their families on phone as vigilance staff suspect they may contact brokers and return to sex work. Language problems and change in food habits add to their woes.

Asha Kannan, superintendent of the home, says many of these women migrate to India without proper documents, making repatriation a challenge.

Sources in the Anti-Human Trafficking Cell of the CB-CID say the verification process for repatriation of four of the women has been completed and they are awaiting clearance from the office of the Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner in Kolkata.

Aged between 18 and 30, the women mostly hail from Nodail and Khulna districts. Poverty forced them to seek employment and they unwittingly fell into the trap of pimps posing as job agents. Some women say they were taken to Mumbai and Bangalore before being brought to Chennai.

“I want to go home before Eid,” pleads one of them. She says an agent promised to get her a job as a maid in Dhaka. “But, he brought me to Kolkata and then to Chennai…” Her voice chokes as she recounts a conversation she managed to have with her children a few months ago. “My husband married a second time assuming I had died.”

G. Jebaraj of the non-governmental organisation Just Trust, says courts do not care to verify the antecedents of those who claim custody of the trafficked girl staying at the Home. In a recent order, a magistrate returned a Bangladesh woman to the custody of her husband, though NGO reports had verified that he was the trafficker. This woman was among the six who escaped from the Home on October 2.

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