On the 9th of September, seventeen year old Karishma, went missing from the South 24 Paraganas District, near Kultali. When delved deeper into her case, it was brought to light that she had been lured into the heinous trade of sex trafficking. Ajmira, her trafficker, had offered her an attractive job, packed with all the necessary training, in the saree industry of India. Being naive at seventeen, she took off on her ironically life changing journey, without informing her parents back at home. She thought this was her chance at a successful and aspiring career. She was ecstatic and curious, little did she know that this wasn’t the kind of future she was prepared for, or anyone can ever be prepared to face!
On the 7th of January, 2014, Karishma somehow managed a phone call to her home district.
She had been missing for over 120 days, but there was still a ray of warm hope that existed within her. The phone call was traced back to G.B. Road, New Delhi – a red-light district where young girls are bought and sold like objects. After all the futile months spent searching for their daughter, Karishma’s parents viewed this phone call like an unbelievable dream. They were ecstatic with joy and turned to Shakti (name changed) for further help.
There is a general view about how families of sex trafficked victims, do not usually accept their daughters when/if they return. They are suddenly looked upon as impure and notorious. This social stigma attached to the horrific issue of the sex trade is not so widely prevalent in the district of Kultali. While this is true in many cases, in the Matriarchal East we find that people love their daughters to the extent that they are willing to turn everything upside down just to bring her back. However, these aren’t statistics that can be quantified; this is just an observation which may vary from place to place.
Coming back to Karishma’s story, Shakti managed to lodge a complaint at the Kultali Police Station on 21st of January. He was only able to file the First Information Report by force, after six days, on 27th January. Below are the list of events that followed:
12.01.2014: Communication with Delhi Police
08.07.2014: Shakti travels to New Delhi for the rescue mission of Karishma
09.07.2014: It is observed that Karishma has been trafficked for Commercial Sexual Exploitation. She has been prostituted at G.B. Road.
Rescue event occurs.
10.07.2014: Train taken from New Delhi to Kultali
12.07.2014: Karishma is returned to her family.
21.07.2014: Court Trial
08.08.2014: Ajmira (Trafficker is sentenced for imprisonment)
22.09.2014: Ajmira receives bail in less than two months
Currently, a rehabilitation plan has been worked out for Karishma. She has an opportunity to train under ‘Freedom Foundation Sangathan’ to learn bracelet jewellery designing. During the three-month course, FFS granted her with 2500 rupees per month. Furthermore, upon completion of the training, Karishma has been given a job at the organisation with a monthly salary of 5000 rupees.
“Karishma was illegally prostituted and made to work as a sex worker for over a year. However, the man who was responsible was given bail after spending less than just two months in prison. Under Section 360A of the Indian Penal Code, “the procuration of a minor girl, ‘under the age of eighteen years’, to go from any location or to do any act with intent of forcing her to illicit intercourse with another person shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
I don’t think there is much left to be said. She was sold off into New Delhi’s red light district: sold into sex work where she had to ‘entertain’ many customers everyday, for a year. On the other hand, Ajmira spent a mere two months in prison in return. This case highlights the inefficiency of our judicial system and the requirement for more Indian judges to be sensitised to the concept of ‘modern day slavery’ in order to deliver appropriate judgements.