Soon, India would unveil the country’s first comprehensive law on human trafficking. The latest data shows 25% increase in reports of human trafficking in 2015. There are many more incidents which might not have been even reported.
The state of West Bengal is often called the hub of human trafficking, where girls as young as 7 years old are sold to brothels.
Local artist Leena Kejriwal runs a public art project. An image of a young girl is being spray-painted on hundreds of walls across the city.
It is a simple black silhouette that tells a complex story — a story about girls who have disappeared, sold for sex.
Under the image, written in English, are the words “missing girls.”
One such missing girl was Riya Singh who shared her chilling story with SBS.
Ria Singh comes from a poor village in West Bengal. Her family often did not have enough to eat, and when she was 15, a family friend — a man she called Uncle — told her he could get her a job as a domestic helper.
But he lied.
Ria Singh told SBS about how he brought her to Kolkata and sold her to a brothel.
After being locked in a room for four years and forced to work as a prostitute, she managed to escape the madam who controlled her.
Ria Singh is now an independent sex worker and is able to send money back to her parents, who believe she is a maid.
Smarita Sengupta is one of the founders of the Destiny Foundation, an organisation that helps rescue girls trafficked into brothels and provides them with jobs.
Ms Sengupta says the girls have often lost their identities.
But artist Leena Kejriwal says it is not just an issue for the government.
She says , “I want to tell everybody — you and me — that we are responsible if the girls are going missing. We can’t say it’s not our issue, because, even with your passiveness, you are driving it.”
Ms Kejriwal often talks to groups of schoolchildren about her project.
By exposing human trafficking, the aim is to give vulnerable girls the chance of a childhood — a life of textbooks and schoolyard crushes, rather than pimps and despair.
Online Source: SBS Hindi.