By Marshall Ramsey II, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– Police in India have rescued a 16-year old Christian girl who was being held captive for two years and used as a slave in an operation that has underscored concerns about girls trafficking in the Hindu nation, BosNewsLife established Thursday, September 2.
The girl, a tribal Christian from India’s state of Orissa, was sold into slavery along with three other girls, including her 19-year-old sister in 2008, officials confirmed. A wave of anti-Christian attacks in Orissa during that year resulted in some 60 girls being captured and sold to several Indian states, according to Christian rights groups. The girl’s name was not released amid security concerns.
The girl’s mother accompanied a rescue team made of police and other officials on the evening of August 9 in the Rohini area of Delhi, said the India’s Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) Anti-Human Trafficking department. HRLN closely cooperated with the All India Christian Council (AICC), a major advocacy group investigating the plight of Christians in India.
“It is confirmed that she was not raped,” said Madhu Chandra, a member of the rescue team and spokesperson for the AICC. However, “She was – physically abused, with teeth bite marks and bruises on her body — her neck, leg, and right hand.”
In remarks obtained by BosNewsLife, the impoverished girl said a well-known woman from her village in Orissa’s troubled Kandhamal district gave her and her sister “a false promise of safe and secure work” in Delhi as gardeners. Instead, operatives working with the woman took the sisters and the other two girls to Sakhi Maid Bureau, a placement agency in Ratala village in Delhi, according to investigators. It was reportedly run by a man only identified as Montu.
The rescued girl was reportedly placed in a home in Rohini, Sector 11, as a domestic servant. The girl said she was initially treated fairly “except for being slapped a few times by the lady of the house.” The situation allegedly worsened when the family’s 10-year old son also began beating her. Additionally, the family’s 14-year old son tried to rape her, she said.
The girl told her rescuers that she tried to flee after the attempted rape as “the lady of the house said she could do nothing about it.” Montu, the placement agency operator, went into hiding, according to police.
Sudhir Kumar, House Officer of Prasant Vihar Police station confirmed the rescue team’s accusation that he refused to register a complaint in the girl’s case. “The victim is from Kandhamal, let her go back to Kandhamal and register her complaint there,” Kumar told reporters. “No rape of the victim took place according to the medical examination, and thus there is no need for registering a case against anyone.” Pressured by reporters, Assistant Police Commissioner Sukhvir Singh said however that police would “will file their complaint if they come back to us.”
AICC Secretary General, and well-known rights activist, John Dayal said the case underscored large-scale human trafficking in Christian tribal and ‘Dalit’ girls and young women from Orissa. “It is one of the worst problems faced in the aftermath of the 2008 violence” against Christians, in which over 100 people died and thousands were displaced, he added.
“Police have made arrests in the nearby Andhra Pradesh and other states,” he said. “Because of the displacement due to the violence, they lost their future, and it is very easy for strangers to come and lure them. Community and family life have been disrupted; the children do not have the normal security that growing children must have,” he explained. “Trauma, unemployment, and desperate measures have resulted in the loss of childhood, forcing many to grow up before their age.”
He said the AICC has urged the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Women, and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes to investigate the situation.