Friends, celebrate with us because five women are free today in India!
Iniya’s* childhood was typical for so many in her situation. Her family did not have much, but there was enough for a school uniform, and so she attended during her primary years and learned to read and write.
But by the time she was twelve, her parents said it was time for her to work and help the family.
She got a job rolling bidis, small cigarettes that are popular in India and South Asia. The work was tedious, but it paid a little. And even a little helped feed her younger siblings and buy their school uniforms.
Other Indian teens growing up in more privileged families went on to finish school and attend college. Some went to America or the UK, where they launched careers, started families, and experienced a new level of prosperity.
But Ihina continued on her path of hourly jobs.
By the time she was twenty, Ihina’s stooped posture had reflected years of hard work.
COVID-19 changed everything. The jobs became scarce as the country locked down in defense of this pandemic sweeping the globe. There was barely enough to eat, and the idle hours turned into idle days, which turned into idle months.
It was her desperation that led her to accept a job offer in another city. The hope of a domestic job, though it would still pay so little to cook and clean, would at least be something to count on each day.
She boarded the bus, tentative, but left with little choice.
And that was how Iniya was trafficked — lured with the hope of opportunity.
She was housed with four other women her age; bewildered and vulnerable, they could only endure one day at a time. The “job offer” was nothing but a trap. The “job” was nothing but abuse.
But Sudir, director of India for The Exodus Road, has spent his adult years actively looking for women like Ihina. His team, ever vigilant, found signs of human trafficking at a hotel and began investigations immediately.
Just nine days later, they had delivered evidence to police, and police rallied teams and a social worker for the operation.
By the early hours of a red dawn, Ihina and the other four women were found and rescued! Together they were taken to a safe home where their needs will be assessed.
And three male traffickers were arrested. Their attempt at bribery – even as they were led to the police cars – fell on deaf ears.
The message is clear in this corner of India: human trafficking will not be tolerated.
Thank you for standing with our national team, supporting the work of freedom, and prioritizing each and every rescue. We are so grateful!
*Names, images, and some details are representational.