The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day there were nearly 8 million people living in modern slavery in India. The GSI 2018 reports an emerging trend in northeast India where organised trafficking syndicates operate along the open and unmanned international borders, duping or coercing young girls seeking employment outside their local area in to forced sexual exploitation. Many women and girls are lured with the promise of a good job but then forced in to sex work, with a 'conditioning' period involving violence, threats, debt bondage and rape.
After four years enslaved in India’s red-light districts, Sagorika was rescued by police and brought to a Sanlaap shelter home.
I want people to know that a girl like me should never have to experience so much suffering. That’s all I want. My name is Sagorika. When I was 13 years old, my brother-in-law sold me to a brothel.
Strange men would come in and abuse me in different ways. They would force us to drink and do inappropriate things. I tried to commit suicide a couple of times, but they always managed to stop me. I was completely hopeless and I thought I would never accomplish anything in my life.
When I came to Sanlaap the aunties helped me understand a lot. They told me these classes could help me overcome my old life and build a new one. I am studying here, but I am also learning how to dance. My dancing has given me my strength. If I start to recall my bad times, I start dancing and it helps me forget everything. Sanlaap has taught me that I own the right to my body. No one else does.
We live the same way sisters would live together. I feel like we are family. Four years ago, I never thought that I would be able to come to a good place like Sanlaap. Now that I am in Sanlaap, I can build a great future here.
Narrative produced by Sanlaap North America (SNA)a non-profit that works to rescue, shelter and empower women and girls who have been kidnapped or sold by their families into the red-light districts of urban India.