Stories from the Brothel
Destiny Reflection is an organization in Calcutta, India that trains and employs former trafficked sex workers. Here are the stories of two of the women artisans who are now working with Destiny Reflection: I am from a small village near Kathmandu, Nepal. My father was a poor farmer who had to support a large family. My father tried hard to marry me off but could not. I could never get any education or work. A job offer came through and I accepted it. I did not know that I would be taken out of my country and moreover I had no geographical sense back then. I was sold to a Nepali lady in Sonagachi, which is the largest red light area in Eastern India located in Kolkata, a metro city in India. I was too naive to even understand that I had been sold! I did not even try to run away because I was scared of the big city and the tall buildings, which I had never seen before in my little village. I did not know where to go and how to go back home. I had to work in the brothel for several years till I met Smarita and got a chance to develop skills in stitching and sewing of textiles. I worked extremely hard to pick up the necessary skills. I have also learned the Hindi alphabet at Destiny and I am now able to sign my name. Just when I had thought that I would have to rot in the brothel forever, Destiny happened to discover me and became my pillar of support. I wish that all women like me get a chance to live a dignified life. Now I don’t live in the brothel anymore. I have a decent and dignified earning option. I stay in a ladies’ hostel and support myself. My mission is to work and help Destiny grow bigger and also to visit my village in Nepal which I had left 20 years ago. I hail from a very small village in West Bengal's Nadia district. My father was extremely poor and supported the family as a daily laborer working in rented land. Since childhood I used to help my father with his work. When I was around 13 or 14 I started working with a lady from our neighborhood helping her make necklaces. Even though I worked very hard, I was paid extremely low and the money I earned was hardly enough to sustain my family. The lady told me that she had another job opportunity for me in Mumbai where I would be paid well and hence that would solve the family's financial crisis. My father believed the lady and sent me to her. Later I realized that she had sold me to a brothel in Mumbai, which is at least 2000 km away from my home and the people spoke in a different language. I was put up with many young girls, some even younger than me. I still had no clue or idea of what they were going to do with me. The building was dark and full of hidden chambers, where they used to hide the girls when there were police raids or maybe just to punish them. I remember that I kept on crying for days. One of the inmate girls told me that crying won’t help and that I would have to accept this life. I lost hope of being rescued because I noticed that the girls who got away kept coming back—which happens when the traffickers bribe the police. But one day I got rescued by a team of men who were from the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) after which I was put in a shelter home. I then had to fight my case in court and face the trauma of being diagnosed with HIV. I thought that I would have to spend my entire life in a shelter and I would die because of my disease. But my life has changed since I joined Destiny; I am an independent woman now. I have been able to move out of the shelter home to a women’s hostel. I still remember the faces of the little girls who used to be locked in the dark chambers during police raids and the torture and inhuman life of the brothels. My only mission now is to help Destiny grow bigger and create work opportunity for many other girls like me so that they can start their life again. I have regained a positive outlook towards life and I am confident that I can overcome any problems. amazing products the women are making.