Magazine article UN Chronicle

India's Other Virus: How One Victim Makes a Difference

Magazine article UN Chronicle

India's Other Virus: How One Victim Makes a Difference

Article excerpt

THE TABLE TURNED DRAMATICALLY on a trafficker on 21 August 2006--her arrest was brought about by a woman she had sold into prostitution over seven years earlier.

Passing through New Delhi station, Seelu recognized Rukmani and, feigning an interest in buying girls herself, kept her distracted long enough for Shakti Vahini social workers to arrive on the scene and summon the police. Rukmani was evidently minutes away from handing over a 22-year-old girl from Maharashtra and her two children to operators of a GB Road brothel. The case is currently under investigation and the net is closing on other figures implicated in Seelu's enforced prostitution.*

On the eve of the festival of Ganesha, passionately celebrated in India for a god whose special power is in removing obstacles, Seelu may well sense a providential hand in this extraordinary chance encounter; but credit is due to her own presence of mind and to all those who have helped her quietly rebuild her life since her rescue two years ago. Ravi Kant of Shakti Vahini writes that the latest research in India indicates that fewer than 10 per cent of trafficked girls are rescued, with as many as two thirds of them re-trafficked.** Seelu is in a very rare category of rescued girls, who see a measure of justice finally done against traffickers and other people responsible for their subsequent exploitation.

Seelu's action saved another woman and her children from the same horrible fate that had befallen her, but she may have achieved something with far wider ramifications. …

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