“Shanthi’s” big brown eyes reveal a life void of happiness and hope even though she has just been rescued from a life few of us can imagine. Trafficked since she was just nine years old in Bangladesh, the fifteen year-old has few memories of a childhood free from slavery.
Operation Underground Railroad became aware of Shanthi while partnering with the Indian Rescue Mission. In this particular case IRM investigators located her through a confidential informant who introduced them to a local pimp. He told them he could get minor girls for the “purchase of sex.”
As with all cases that O.U.R. is involved with, local law enforcement was then contacted and partnered with in the investigation. A raid of the brothel was organized and Shanthi was rescued along with a few other victims. The raid was covered by various news outlets and used as a warning to others who are involved in the sex trade. Two traffickers were arrested.
In partnering with IRM, O.U.R. utilizes local resources which is the most efficient use of funds in India and Bangladesh. It also empowers local police and NGOs to continue to search for and rescue victims.
As for Shanthi, little is known at this time concerning her or her family. We do know that she was initially “broken in” to the sex trade by three men in Bangladesh and immediately following the raid she was sent to a government run shelter where she received medical and emotional care.
One of O.U.R.’s undercover team members recently saw her in India and said she is doing well and is out of the shelter now. She aspires to go to college and is currently in the sewing program which O.U.R. has previously reported on. We will continue to monitor her care and help her on her journey to a new life.
This rescue would not have been possible without the help of IRM. For more information on our NGO partner Indian Rescue Mission please visit their web site Indian Rescue.
Written by: Cheryl L. Karr