Sept. 9: Almost three years after she was rescued from Haryana, a 20-year-old victim of human trafficking from Assam is still awaiting assistance from the state government for her rehabilitation.
Rekha (name changed), who hails from Hajo in Kamrup district, is now struggling for a livelihood as she is yet to get any form of help from the government despite repeated pleas. “Without any source of income, I have become a burden on my family,” she told The Telegraph.
As a result, she is finding it difficult to arrange even two square meals a day for herself and her two-year-old son. Rekha, who was trafficked to Haryana and forced into marriage, was rescued by Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based anti-trafficking NGO, with the help of Haryana police from Shahpur in Haryana’s Jind district on October 4, 2011.
Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini told The Telegraph that she had written many times to the state government seeking help so that she can sustain herself and take care of her child but till date her efforts have yielded no result.
“After prolonged persuasion, joint secretary of the social welfare department M. Baruah wrote an official letter to the director of the department, Dilip Borthakur, on March 5 this year asking him to look into the matter and do the needful,” he said.
“Six months have passed since then, but unfortunately nothing came of it,” Kant rued. When contacted, Borthakur said one of his officers, who is looking into the matter, is currently on leave.
“I would be able to tell you about its present status only after he returns from leave,” he said.
Rishi Kant said Rekha was trafficked when she was 17 with the lure of a job since she was from a very poor family. “After that she was forced to marry a person named Rakesh, who not only sexually abused her but also forced her to do all the household chores,” he said. At the time of her rescue, Rekha was five months pregnant. According to Kant, they reunited Rekha with her family and sent her back home.
“Her family comprises her father, mother and her child, who are now totally dependent on the daily wage earned by her father, which is not enough to make both ends meet,” he said.
“The girl had appeared for the high school examination before tragedy befell her but could not pass. The situation was truly painful,” he said.
“What was even more painful is that while the girl and her family continue to struggle, the administration has turned a blind eye towards them. Rehabilitation as a post-rescue measure seems to be a lost cause, duly ignored by the authorities,” Kant said.
He said the sordid tale of Rekha exposes the true face of the state government, which otherwise claims to be helping trafficking victims. According to him, because of a lack of specific policy of the state government for rehabilitation of trafficking victims, many survivors of trafficking, who are from poverty-stricken and marginalised families, are left with no other option but to take up prostitution to support their families