Rescue & Reintegration: Puja’s Story
One Days Wages is partnering with Rescue:Freedom to rescue 60 women and girls who have fallen victim to the human trafficking industry in Pune, India. Rescue:Freedom will work with local law enforcement to rescue these women and girls from brothels, and then reintegrate them into safe and supportive communities.
We invite you to learn about this partnership below, and read the story of Puja, a young girl in India who shows us how urgent rescue and rehabilitation is needed.
India has long suffered from a significant human trafficking problem. Studies and surveys sponsored by the ministry of women and child development in India estimate there are about 3 million women and children in sexual slavery in the country, of which an estimated 40% are children. Currently, it is believed that as many as 2,000 women and children are trapped in sexual slavery in the city of Pune, India alone. The abuse, exploitation, and suffering these women and children endure is unimaginable and their need for rescue is critical.
ODW + Rescue Freedom
Our partnership will establish a new program aggressively aiding in the rescue of women and girls trapped in sexual slavery in Pune. A team of experienced and trained professionals will go undercover into brothels to gather needed information on the location of children being exploited. Then victims will be rescued in coordination with local police. Following the rescue, these women and children will be transitioned to restorative residential programs including the Rescue:Freedom safe home operating in Pune. Alternatively, if it is safe and possible to do so, rescued children will be carefully and collaboratively reintegrated back into their communities and homes of origin. To help ensure the conviction and sentencing of traffickers, all relevant information gathered during each rescue will be shared with prosecutors.
Puja grew up in a small village three hours’ drive from Mumbai, India. When Puja was 13 years, old she returned home from school one evening to find a well-dressed woman speaking with her father outside their small home. The woman was offering to take Puja along with two other girls her age from the village to Mumbai and that she would give them a good job in a factory. She promised Puja’s father that Puja’s earnings would be enough to send some rupees home each month to help the struggling family. Puja’s parents were reluctant and sad to consider Puja leaving but felt they had no other choice.
Instead of taking the girls to Mumbai, the woman took them to another large Indian city and led the girls directly into the red light district where sexual slavery is commonplace.
For the next year, Puja was held against her will at a brothel where she was abused and exploited. Puja wanted desperately to go home, to run, to be free, but all avenues of escape were blocked.
Over a year after she was abducted, local police raided the brothel and Puja was rescued, but not before she suffered unimaginable hardship and loss. Puja was returned to her parents who were overjoyed to see their daughter come home, and she is actively engaged in recovery and restoration.
Puja’s story is heartbreaking, but her courage, resiliency, and hope can also inspire us to not turn our heads away from this pervasive issue. Together we can take small steps toward ending human trafficking. We invite you to join us in our partnership with Rescue Freedom, and take action below.
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