Other States

For three women, a journey of liberation on Chennai Mail

After a decade of exploitation by sex traffickers, the Bangladeshi nationals return home from Kozhikode.

As the whistle blew and the Chennai Mail moved out of Kozhikode railway station on Tuesday, it was the end of a decade-long nightmare for the three young women. They sat gazing at the town rolling past, far away from their villages in Bangladesh.

They were in their teens when they left home to work as domestic help in Mumbai a decade ago. But in the big city, touts lured them with promises of better jobs, and sex traffickers snared them. They were moved from city to city, and did not even know the names of the places. They were first taken to Bangalore and “trained.” Refusal to cooperate invited threats and starvation, though not physical violence.

In Kozhikode, they were caught by police. Once their story unfolded, police realised that they were looking at a big sex trafficking racket. They were shifted to care homes, but not allowed to leave until the cases were prosecuted and traffickers caught.

Nine years rolled by, before their story could advance. A Bangladeshi woman, Saya (name changed), who had been rescued from sex traffickers in Kozhikode, spent over a year in Mahila Mandiram before returning to her country last year. As a poet and an artist, she published her anthology and exhibited her paintings on her plight with help from Arm of Joy, an NGO. The Bangladesh High Commission then intervened.

Back home, she narrated her ordeal. The High Commission contacted the NGO, and learned about 11 other Bangladeshis trapped in Kozhikode. Officials visited in January and issued travel permits to those stranded. But only seven men could leave and not the women, since cases were pending.

The NGO petitioned the State Human Rights Commission, pointing out that the victims were being traumatised further, when the accused were free. Also, the police were yet to nab many of the accused.

The Punarjani Lady Lawyers’ Initiative moved the Kerala High Court demanding the release of the women, who in turn wrote an open letter to the Governor. The High Commission procured affidavits stating that the women could appear via video conference before a court for their cases. The High Court ordered that they be sent back home, a few weeks ago.

In the last few days, it was emotional farewells from Mahila Mandiram friends and a formal send-off by the city Corporation.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 3:35:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/For-three-women-a-journey-of-liberation-on-Chennai-Mail/article14625065.ece

Next Story