Rescue Girls from Sex Trafficking

“I had no freedom,” she remembers. “They always locked me up. Everywhere I went, I had to go with them.”

Kashi* was only 3 years old when her impoverished family sold her into domestic servitude for a wealthy couple in Mumbai. Confused and alone, she spent the next 12 years in a never-ending cycle of housework, laundry and loneliness. When she was 15, Kashi was raped by one of the owner’s sons.

From there, the family sold her off to a massive brothel in Sonagachi, one of Kolkata’s most dangerous red-light districts. She could never leave, and Kashi quickly lost hope of a better life.

Police, advocates and social workers entered the brothel and went straight to the room where they knew Kashi was kept—but it was empty. They arrested the suspected madam and nearly left until, out of the corner of her eye, one IJM staff member saw a small hand behind a curtain. She remembers, “We found Kashi hiding and shaking, surrounded by clothes. We could see only her face.”

Rescued at 16 years old and with no formal education, Kashi’s prospects were limited. IJM found a special program for non-traditional students like her to study and live at a private school. Three days before her 17th birthday, Kashi put on a school uniform for the first time in her life. After 13 years of slavery, she was finally free to move toward her dreams.

“Without education, you can do nothing,” she says with quiet confidence. “My dream is to study so I can stand on my own two feet.”

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