She got her life back!

Mujeebu’s Fellowship is made possible by the Rural India Supporting Trust.

PC: Prakritee Pradhan, Srijan Foundation.

Mangali [name changed], 12, a delicate, timid, orphan girl from Boarijor village, located in Khunti district of Jharkhand, is one of the thousands of girls who are trafficked from the state every year, according to the available statistics[i].

On a wedding day of her friend, Guhiya Pahadiya in Sahibaganj village, a man named Ummed approached Mangali. The man asked Mangali if she wished to go out of Jharkhand to work and earn. Mangali, who lived in severe poverty with her aunt in a small house, found the proposal appealing. She decided to follow Ummed.

Her guardians began searching for her ever since they realised that their daughter was missing, but they could not locate her. Boarijor is one of those villages, which have been known for the conflict between Maoist and Indian security forces; and human trafficking cases. Mangali’s guardians assumed, as it is the typical situation in the village, that their daughter either had been taken away by the rebellions or trafficked by agents.

Human trafficking is one of the major societal challenges facing the state of Jharkhand (UNODC, 2013)[ii]. Ummed, who had offered Mangali a job, took her on a train to Delhi. Generally, Delhi seemed as the destination for trafficked victims from Jharkhand where they employed domestic servitude whereas in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal they are usually taken to Brick kilns and other industries. Migration for girls like Mangali can be a consequence of economic constraints of staying home. Households living in poverty have nothing to protect them other than selling away their only asset that is the labor of the family. If the geographical neighborhood does not offer the opportunity to contribute this labor, or in the absence of a formal institution guaranteeing everyone’s economic and labor rights or its dysfunction, he or she is sent far-off as migrants. It can also happen, as it is reported in some cases, because of the oppressive social norms present back in the birthplace which forces migrants to find a form of emancipation from them.

On her arrival in Delhi, Mangali was taken to a house, where she worked as a domestic servant for three years. However, she was never paid. She was often beaten up and harassed. Her salary was taken by Ummed every month. In Mangali’s case, it was an unknown, Ummed, who took her to Delhi. Manglai can be blamed for her immature decision to follows someone, who is totally unknown to her. However, a report[iii] shows that majority of girls that are trafficked into by someone they know: their uncles, cousins, and other relatives. The tribes in Jharkhand have this tradition of sending their children to live with their relatives for a few months to forward better family bondage. It is only after everything happened parents realize that their children had been trafficked.

As part of her work, Mangali used to go to market. One day, she met with another domestic worker named Vasanta [name changed], who, fortunately was employed in a good job as a domestic worker, was in the market. It is cases like Vasanta, who get a decent job in cities like Delhi, portrays the big cities as promised lands entice many other girls to leave their homeland. Vasanta suggested Mangali go to a place in Jammu where she was treated well while she served there. Mangali decided to escape from her workplace and reach her new ‘promised land’.

One day morning, when she was sent to market to buy something, Mangali escaped. She boarded a train to Jammu. Some of the victims of trafficking were not accepted by family when they come home. Some of them disappear after they arrive in their home state. They ran away from there after being teased by her family. The community including their family found them ‘impure’ as they had returned from big cities. These kinds of situations, probably, make trafficked victims like Mangali to hunt new destinations of hope even after experiencing the harder side of migration.

Mangali worked in her destination Jammu for three years. Her new owner, thankfully, treated her well. He even tried to help her out to find her way back home when she wanted to be back in homeland after a long break. Mangali did not, clearly, remember her address and that was the reason why her letters were returned a couple of times. She tried different addresses, and finally, it clicked. She received a call from her uncle, Dharam Lohra. Further, he did the follow-up with the help of Jharkhand Anti Trafficking Network (JATN), a state-level joint network of 14 grassroots NGOs named “to promote safe migration to help prevent human trafficking” and raise the issue of trafficking as violence against women and girls in the public domain. Now, Mangali is one of the fortunate girls who returned home and were accepted by her family.

The issues do not end here. The real challenge begins after the survivors reach their village. Now, they are at a stage where they need psychological help and constant counselling as a majority of the girls who are trafficked are sexually exploited. Unfortunately, there are no provisions under the existing laws to take care of the survivors post-trafficking. They also require a livelihood option so that they, most probably, will not be trafficked. Of course, there are shelters and other minimum facilities for the destitute under the state; and non-profit organisations try their level best to help survivors return home and find an alternative livelihood. A more holistic approach towards human trafficking, as it is in the present Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill 2016[iv], is expected to make remarkable changes in the state.

[i] ‘Trends and Significance of Migration in India’, prepared by Jharkhand Anti Trafficking Network (JATN), Ranchi, Jharkhand (2017).

[ii] Refer, https://www.unodc.org/documents/southasia//reports/Human_Trafficking-10-05-13.pdf

[iii] Situational Report on Human Trafficking in Jharkhand, prepared by Shakti Vahini, New Delhi (2015).

[iv] Trafficking of Person (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016, http://wcd.nic.in/sites/default/files/Draft%20Trafficking%20of%20persons%20Bill%202016.pdf/

As a keen student of politics, law and human rights, Mujeebu is fascinated by the complex apparatus of law and governance in India. His graduation in Masters in Development with specialization in law and governance from Azim Premji University Bangalore has a profound impact on his passion. He has also completed a Master’s thesis from Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar. To supplement his theoretical understanding, he has interned with various non-governmental organizations and civil society movements in India. Throughout these different internships and field engagements, he was looking at different issues from the perspective of law and human rights. Very recently he was selected for a short-term research exchange program between IIT Gandhinagar and the ISCTE-Institute University of Lisbon, Portugal. Throughout this program at ISCTE-IUL, he was looking at the transit migration and human rights issues among the South Asian migrants in Lisbon. From early on, he was also part of human rights clinic at Azim Premji University where he worked for the human rights of street vendors. He has also worked along with NIMHANS, Bangalore, for the human rights of the transgender community in the city. Furthermore, his rigorous research related field engagements in the remote areas of the Kashmir Valley, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala prove his pleasure of working in diverse conditions.

Mujeebu's Fellowship is made possible by the Rural India Supporting Trust.

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