10 years ago in 2011, the Justice and Care team helped rescue nine young women in India. All nine women had been violently abused, tortured and raped countless times – but none wanted to receive our help and all were angry about being led to safety.
Sadly, although it might seem absurd, it is not unusual for victims of slavery to be so conditioned and desensitised to their situation that, out of a need for survival, they can often confuse their overwhelming fear with loyalty to their traffickers.
The young women were taken to a shelter home by police, where they remained loyal to the brothel owner for months. They refused our support, to engage with the police investigation, or to press charges against their abusers.
But our team did not give up on them. We kept visiting the group and one day we had a breakthrough. Brinda*, one of the nine women, built up the courage to begin to speak out.
The story Brinda told was heartbreaking. A highly educated graduate, Brinda had been lured to Bangalore on the premise of a job in an IT company. She passed interviews and arrived on her first day to find she had been duped by traffickers. Brinda had to stand and watch as her traffickers burnt her ID and qualification papers – her nightmare had begun.
For eleven months she was forced to work in the brothel. Night and day she was raped and abused. Her life seemingly destroyed and even her own family rejected her because of what she had been through.
When Brinda and the eight other young women were finally rescued, she had been so traumatised and her trust so broken that she had not known how or whether she could speak out, and had instead followed the lead of the group. But now she was ready to move forward.
For the last 10 years, social workers funded by Justice and Care have been working with Brinda. We helped her seek the medical help she needed, including her diagnosis and treatment for bipolar disorder.
We helped Brinda build up confidence and secure a job as a librarian. Our support has helped her deal with her trauma and build the confidence needed to pursue her traffickers through the courts.
Almost 11 years after being rescued from the brothel, her traffickers have been jailed for seven years. Brinda continues to rebuild her life and we are working alongside her as she does so.
The road to recovery for victims and survivors of slavery might be long, but there is always hope and Brinda’s story is a testament to that hope.
*Name changed to protect identity