- Kidnapped at 12, the child trafficking survivor was sold to nine men
- She was also separated from two of her sons
- Last month, she managed to escape her kidnappers, now lives with mother
New Delhi: She was 12 when she went to a crowded market, not far from her home in the old quarters of Delhi, to buy some staples and suddenly blacked out after being forced to sniff something.
She woke up in hell.
“There was a room full of girls, some younger, some older… Some were crying, some unconscious… I was told I am in Ambala and will be sold off,” she says, now 22, her skin a grisly canvas of scars, burn marks, bite wounds, injections and other marks of torture.
What followed were 10 years of unspeakable horror involving drugs, rape and abuse. She also had two children, who were separated from her.
She was sold to nine different people for amounts from Rs 15,000 to 20,000. She was drugged and even injected with hormones.
“I used to open my eyes and find myself in a different place,” she says, fiddling with her dupatta, her eyes filling up at the memories as she shares her story with NDTV, back in her childhood home with her mother. She has eight sisters who, tragically, appear to have detached themselves from her.
Last month, she managed to escape her kidnappers – a gang of child traffickers – with the help of a bar dancer, and was reunited with her mother after a decade.
“They beat me and made me work in the fields all day without food. At night, the food I was given was drugged and then they raped me,” said the woman.
In 2009, three years after she was kidnapped, she was sold to a 66-year-old man in exchange for gold. They were married in a Gurudwara; she was injected with hormones so she could look older than her 15 years.
Within a year, she had her first child, a boy. Two years later, she had another son. Both were snatched away from her.
“The old man died after two years. His brothers and their sons would rape me every night. His sister kept one of my sons and sold me to someone along with my younger one. I was asked to work in the fields and people’s homes all day, my body would give up and I started falling ill, so they sold me again.”
Today, all she wants is her children back. “I lost my childhood, missed my mother and siblings…I don’t want my children to suffer the same way,” she wept.
Her testimony led to the arrest of most of the men who kidnapped, assaulted and sold her. But the family of her husband is missing along with her sons.
At least a dozen gangs of traffickers operate in Delhi, say the police, and their web spreads to Punjab, Gujarat and West Bengal.
As many as 22 children go missing every day from the roads of the capital. More than half are girls between 8 and 15 years. According to the Delhi Police, 2,683 children were reported missing in the last year.
One woman managed to escape but many more remain trapped in this horror.