After escaping from human trafficking, I started working with survivors to support them

Sanjita Kumari from Jharkhand is a human trafficking survivor who is now working to support survivors like her across India.
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My name is Sanjita Kumari and I come from Gumla in Jharkhand. Since my childhood, I have seen my family struggle due to poor financial conditions. Whether job or studies, we were taught to do it on our own.

In 2016, when I was in my 9th grade and was nearing to write my matriculation exam, my cousin came over to my house. She promised to get me a good job outside the city if I went with her.

My mother’s health condition was not good and she couldn’t go and work on her own. However, I didn't want to leave my home and work at that time. I conveyed the same to my family and to my cousin.

Four months later, my cousin made an appearance again, this time saying we were visiting our grandmother’s house, which was a little far from my house. She promised to bring me back home by evening. My father was apprehensive at first but then allowed me to go with her.

We travelled for a long time, but did not reach our destination. I could see my cousin’s attitude change towards me. I was confused and knew she was up to something. I was carrying my brother’s phone and tried calling him, but she broke the phone and threw it. When I questioned her, she shut me up.

We stopped at a hotel. I was not hungry and wanted to reach the destination as soon as possible. But she forced me to eat. I saw her talking over the phone, and soon about five boys reached the area and started talking to her. I tried hiding in the hotel, but in vain.

They took me inside their car and started moving. At this time, I couldn't identify the location or the place we were going to. My cousin changed her phone sim as well so that none of my family members could reach her.

I was raped. They took me to many places and I eventually ended up in Delhi. I worked as a maid in different houses for about three years and landed up in a brothel in between, but managed to escape soon. I tried contacting my house and family many times during these years but did not succeed.

In 2019, I managed to escape and came back to my house with the help of my brother.

After I returned, we filed an FIR, but the police were of no help to us. They never helped us in finding the culprits.

Today, I work in Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT) as Bihaan Samuh leader. ILFAT is India’s first forum against human trafficking, which is by the survivors, of the survivors, and for the survivors of all forms of human trafficking.

The platform is a survivor-led forum to strengthen and promote survivor voices in the space of human trafficking and be solution providers based on lived experiences and does not see itself as a platform of victims.

ILFAT aims to end all forms of human trafficking in the country. Currently, there are 13 survivor collectives across 10 states (West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh) with a membership of more than 2,500 survivors constitute ILFAT and represents survivors of child trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour, servitude, domestic labour, and sex trafficking.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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