As we celebrate 75 years of Independence, we think of the many sacrifices that have been made to help us be free. Sometimes, we appreciate the importance of this freedom only once in a year, failing to realize its true meaning. Is our nation and every person in this nation really free? Have we considered how many people–men, women and children are still craving for freedom today in our nation and around the world? What does being denied this basic human right look like for them?
When you see an 11 year old child, what comes to your mind generally? For me, I see the innocence of their lives through their laughter, the joy of dreams that need to be fulfilled and the hope and the desire to change the world. Children have unwavering faith and trust which makes them unique.
What happens when that same trust is broken? When their innocence is taken advantage of? When they are no longer allowed to dream the big dreams that they have and their hopes are crushed? That’s what trafficking does to them.
Trafficking restricts the basic freedom of a human being. It creates a bondage that may not be seen with chains but surely chains a person down. Freedom for a trafficked victim is being able to come out of the bondage and to be able to experience the world without someone dictating the terms of their lives. In India every 8 minutes a child goes missing. That’s not freedom! We have a long way to go before we can bring freedom to these lives.
Rescued to Freedom
In a recent rescue operation that I was a part of, the team rescued about 42 young women from a place of extreme abuse. What was overwhelming to see was the living conditions of these young children and women– they didn’t even have basic hygiene in the rooms they were being kept in.
In that moment, standing in the middle of the red light area, looking at that 11 year old fighting against the freedom that awaited her, I realized that trafficking and abuse is not just a distant concept, but a reality that rips a person apart and changes the definition of who a child is.
Four to six young girls were cramped in a room with a hole in the ground which constituted a urinal for them. They didn’t have the freedom of movement or the right to express their opinion. Yet, when help was rendered to them to come out of that space, they were hostile and resistant. The idea of freedom was nonexistent for them.
When the team went to a quiet 11 year old sitting on a bed, visibly abused and tortured by a middle aged man, she resisted even a gentle loving gesture to help her out of the room. She started screaming and crying.
Time stopped for me at that moment, and I realized how bondage works. This child was literally made into a ‘slave’ to the madams and pimps who ‘owned’ her. She couldn’t see the hope and the dreams that lay ahead of her. I realized that freedom is something I have taken for granted in my life.
I saw that the innocence of these children was crushed and they were manipulated into believing that what they are experiencing is good for them. In spite of all that is being done to end the trafficking and the abuse of children, there is still so much more that needs to be done. The evil of sex trafficking permeates every part of society without exception– every child in this world is vulnerable to it.
Two days after our rescue operation, this entire red light area was shut down by the District Magistrate. Every single brothel, every single shop was sealed and the entire area was shut off and all commercial sex workers were removed from the area. This is historic.
Statistics tell us that 60% of the people who are trafficked are children. In that moment, standing in the middle of the red light area, looking at that 11 year old fighting against the freedom that awaited her, it dawned on me that trafficking and abuse is not just a distant concept, but a reality that rips a person apart and changes the definition of who a child is.
Freedom Is A Process
Eventually, bringing these 42 young women out of that place of abuse and while speaking with them, I realized that freedom is not something that happens overnight. It is a process. It is a fight, but that fight is worth it because it changes the course of history. These 42 young women will never again have to worry about being abused by multiple men every night and day.
Two days after our rescue operation, this entire red light area was shut down by the District Magistrate. Every single brothel, every single shop was sealed and the entire area was shut off and all commercial sex workers were removed from the area. This is historic. We had only read about this in law books, but to experience the shut down of a whole red light area was a first time experience!
As a team, we are so thankful for the police officers and the government social and rehabilitation teams who are committed to putting a stop to this, no matter the dangers and complications involved.
Every citizen has the right to live with human dignity and all other aspects which make life meaningful, complete and worth living.
To help a fellow human being get the freedom they deserve is one of the most rewarding experiences one can ever have. Over 75 years ago the fight that our freedom fighters fought and the pain that they and their families experienced, helps us to live today in a country where every citizen has the right to live with human dignity and all other aspects which make life meaningful, complete and worth living.
May I encourage you dear reader, to look for ways in which you could engage in your community and partner with people or organizations in bringing freedom to the countless men, women and children being held in bondage and trafficked for sex, bonded labour, the organ trade, the skin trade and more.
Let us allow our hearts to be stirred by the pain of our fellow Indians, and may we never stop fighting till each life is meaningful, complete and worth living.
About The Author
Dolphy Biswas is Partnerships Director at Women Of Worth. She has about 10 years of experience in rescue operations to free young children from the sex trade and is passionate about bringing freedom to children who are trapped into commercial sexual exploitation. She regularly rescues girls from trafficking and dreams of a day when there won’t be anymore children who are exploited.