Chance encounter on bus gives modern slavery survivor hope

December 21, 2023

Sitting on a bus, Meena* noticed a stranger crying. The bus was close to the border of Bangladesh. The woman had no belongings with her. 

Meena, one of Justice and Care’s Champion Survivors, sat down next to the woman and opened up about some of the challenges she had faced in life – her honesty and empathy led to the woman sharing her story.

The woman confided in her that she had been trafficked to work as a domestic servant for a family in Bangladesh. She was then trafficked again, this time to India, where she was forced to work in a brothel.

With the help of another victim, she had managed to escape but did so with no possessions, money or documents, which the traffickers had taken. People smugglers agreed to take her across the border back into Bangladesh – raping her multiple times for what they called ‘payment’. 

When the young woman found herself on a bus from the border, she felt she had nothing and nowhere to go. But the chance encounter with Meena showed her that she was not alone.

Champion Survivors are survivors who Justice and Care has worked with who are far along in their recovery journeys and now act as leaders in the anti-trafficking fight. In a project funded by the Home Office’s Modern Slavery Innovation Fund, some of them are now being supported to work alongside our staff team as aftercare workers, helping others who have been trafficked.

Although they were strangers, Meena was able to understand the woman’s trauma more than others. She called the Justice and Care Bangladesh team who sprung into action – ensuring that the woman could access a shelter home that we work closely with. Our team has continued to help the woman, ensuring that she is given support and counselling to start her recovery, and we will also work to bring those responsible to justice.

Ever since the chance encounter on the bus, Meena has been standing alongside the woman – just as our supporters are standing with us, making this work possible.

*name changed to protect identity