It is estimated that almost 8 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in India (GSI 2018). The skewed sex ratio in some regions of India has fuelled the trafficking and selling of women and young girls as brides within India. Women are reportedly sold off into marriage by their families, sometimes at a young age, and end up enduring severe abuse, rape and exploitation by their husbands. It is also reported that women and girls from impoverished backgrounds have been lured by promises of marriage by younger men from urban areas, then forced into sex work once married.
Muneera Beguma was just 12 years old when she was sold into marriage with a man aged 70. She was locked up and subjected to physical and sexual abuse. Eventually he divorced her over the phone. Muneera filed a police case and authorities arrested the middleman involved in selling her.
That night he took me. He forced himself on me. I was crying. I didn’t like it. [He said] I’ve bought you. I can do whatever I want. I’ve given your parents money, and I’ve bought you. I can use you for as long as I like. Keep your mouth shut.
I wasn’t educated and I couldn’t understand anything that was going on. I had childishness in me.
[He was] Seventy. Seventy, yes. Yes. [I was] Twelve years.
I couldn’t even look outside. He used to lock me from the outside in case I ran away. If I had to go anywhere he would lock me from the inside, come back again later and then the torture would start with me.
There are a lot of girls like this, no one speaks up.
I was crying. After seeing the old man I started crying even more.
The way I got caught up. I don’t want other girls to face the same thing. In my heart, I feel that the pain I faced. The other/next person shouldn’t face that pain.
Narrative credit to The CNN Freedom Project