When Aashni’s* boyfriend painted a picture of the kind of life she could have outside of the limited opportunities in Bangladesh, she believed him. If he loved her, surely he was telling the truth.
Everything changed when she arrived in India. Aashni was taken to a dingy hotel, its windows darkened by looming awnings. Inside, it quickly became clear that this was not the better life she had been promised. This was betrayal by the man she had trusted.
Strange men were in the hotel, clearly in charge of its operations. They talked about selling Aashni for sex as if it were normal, as if it were not a horrific violation of her dignity and trust.
Aashni waited in the hotel throughout a whole torturous day. Bewildering emotions raced through her heart.
When police flooded the building, Aashni was overwhelmed by shock. She didn’t understand what was happening. She dreaded what this latest development in a nightmarish day might mean. Tears of exhaustion and terror spilled over.
Meanwhile, the police officers were talking to the men in the hotel. Law enforcement had irrefutable evidence provided by The Exodus Road’s BRAVO team proving that these men were traffickers. BRAVO had spent a month and a half building a case against these men in Operation Trust. The perpetrators pleaded, threatening to call on political connections. But law enforcement could not be swayed.
Pictured: Two of Aashni's traffickers in custody.
As Aashni watched, her understanding of the situation grew. Her trust in her boyfriend had been shattered. Her hope for a legitimate job had vanished. But in that moment, her inner strength was unbroken. Gathering her thoughts and her courage, Aashni told police the full story: this is how it happened. This is how I was deceived and discarded.
At the end of a day where betrayal had turned her whole reality inside out, Aashni was able to rally her bravery.
Aashni was brought to a government safe house where she could begin to process what had happened to her. Three traffickers from the brothel were arrested, and they are now facing a minimum of 7 years in prison.
*Names and some images are representative.