A life restored after a dream destroyed: Teenager Rahima’s story

Trafficking comes in many guises. For Rahima*, who as a young teenager trustingly accompanied a neighbour to Mumbai – the city of dreams – on the promise of a good job, the dream morphed into an inescapable nightmare.

Leaving the Bangladeshi village together, crossing the border at night, and making their way to West Bengal, and onwards to Mumbai, Rahima had no idea she was being trafficked to India. On arrival she was sold to a lady who managed a brothel in one of Mumbai’s red-light districts.

Instead of the job she’d been promised, Rahima suffered severe violence and abuse in an attempt to “break her into the trade”. She struggles to talk about what happened in the brothel during her three years there: it’s too traumatic for her to think about. Her father, Sabbir Mortaza*, 65, never stopped thinking about his youngest daughter.

After the rescue, Justice and Care’s team continuously supported Rahima, working on all aspects of her care, from counselling and aftercare support, recording of legal statements and documentation, filing an application for repatriation, to conducting home investigation reports. She was also able to learn tailoring, karate and computer skills. And began the long journey towards physical and emotional healing.

Sabbir, Rahima’s father, is overwhelmed by the news which Justice and Care bring. His daughter, who he’s not seen for three years and thought he’d lost forever, will return today, the team tell him. Rahima plans to use the skills Justice and Care helped her acquire to start earning a livelihood. But she is not alone. The team will continue to be by her side, helping her practically, ensuring she is safe and well. Because she is no longer treated as a commodity to be bought, used and sold. But a person, a daughter, of great value.

*Names changed to protect identities