Survivors

International Sanctuary works toward taking the focus off the victim and

restoring the girl to be an individual.

*Names have been changed to protect their identities.

Name: Kojal

Age: 17

Joined iSanctuary: January 2009

Favorite Color:  yellow

Favorite thing to do: I like to eat noodles and watch movies.

Future: In the future I want to become a singer. I really want to work hard to accomplish this.

Dreams: My dream is to go to London.

Name: Raakhi

Age: 15

Joined iSanctuary: January 2009

Favorite thing to do: I like to eat grapes.

Dreams: My dream is to go to London.

One statement: I want to tell the world I am not less than anyone else.

Name: Megala

Age: 15

Joined iSanctuary: February 2008

Favorite Color:  green

Future: In the future I want to become a social worker or I’d like to become a teacher.

Dreams: My dream is to go to Sri Lanka.

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Survivors Stories

Megala* grew up in deep poverty in Bangladesh – poverty which eventually forced her family to move Mumbai in search of work.  Her mother accepted a job at a steel mill, where she met and then married a man named Yogesh*.

Though Megala did not know it, her new step-father Yogesh started negotiating a way to make money from Megala’s innocence.  Working with another man who was similarly trying to prostitute his 15-year-old sister-in-law, Yogesh started shopping the sex industry for men who would pay for the opportunity to abuse his 12-year-old stepdaughter.

At one such meeting, Yogesh inadvertently met with investigators working for a human rights organization that works to bring rescue and justice to victims of sex trafficking in Mumbai, India. Yogesh showed the IJM operatives a picture of his “daughter” Megala, explained that she was a virgin, and began to negotiate a price.

When Megala’s step-father purchased her a new outfit and told her he was bringing her to visit her uncle, she had no idea of his real intentions.  She accompanied him to the hotel where he planned to sell her for the first time.  There, they also met with the young sister-in-law of Yogesh’s coworker.  It was there at the hotel, on the brink of assault, that the investigators, partnering with local authorities, intervened and rescued Megala and the other young girl  who waited with her from forced prostitution.

The organization’s legal team determinedly sough justice for Megala.  Through the team faced many obstacles in the legal process, they persevered.  Eventually, Megala had the opportunity to testify against her abuser.  In December 2007, her stepfather and his coworker were both convicted of procuring minor girls for sex, selling minor girls for prostitution, and unlawfully compelling the girls to work against their will under the Indian Penal Code, as well as for knowingly living off the earning of a prostitute and procuring a female for prostitution under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.  Each of the perpetrators was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Megala moved to a long-term aftercare home, where she has had the opportunity to heal in safety and security. In the loving environment of the aftercare home, Megala’s entire demeanor transformed.  She learned to trust again. When she grows up, Megala wants to be a social worker or a drawing teacher.  She says that as a social worker she will be able to go back to the slums where she grew up and help other children get food and housing.  She would tell the girls in the slums her own story and give them advice about what to do in the future – how it is important to study and get a job and care for their children.

*A pseudonym, used for the protection of the victim.

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In the darkness of Bangladesh a girl slept on the dirt floor of a shack. Poverty is commonplace in developing countries but this is not a story of poverty, it’s a story about how poverty can lead to some of the most inhumane treatment of people.

As Saheli slept one night, a neighbor crept into the house and kidnapped her. Rendered unconscious, Saheli awoke in Mumbai, far from her village and her home. As a 12 year old village girl she was very confused and afraid which led her to trust the one person she knew, her neighbor. He lied and told her that a job had been arranged for her in a restaurant. But Saheli never made it to that restaurant. Instead, she spent the first week in Mumbai being beaten, starved and raped. Once her spirit was broken, she spent every day and night for the remaining four years as a sex slave for a brothel owner.

Fortunately, Saheli’sstory doesn’t end in a brothel– she was rescued.

*Name has been changed to protect anonymity.

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