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South Asia

Rescue of 4 women helps arrest trafficker on “most wanted” list

HYDERABAD, India – In late April, IJM’s casework partner Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) assisted authorities in Telangana state to break up a major trafficking ring and rescue four young women who had been forced into domestic servitude.

The four survivors—more than one of whom was just a teenager—had been lured from impoverished communities in the state of Jharkhand to work in the homes of wealthier families.  

One of the survivors, for instance, was just 14 years old when she was trafficked. Her father had passed away, and a trafficker promised her struggling family she could earn good money in Punjab to send home. Instead, the trafficker moved her to different homes across northern India and rarely ever got to call home. She had been trapped for the last seven years.

In many cases, this trafficking network also deceived the households who employed the girls. A trafficker would ask the employer to deposit wages in his own account, then keep the funds for himself. Authorities believe the traffickers would earn from 20,000 to 40,000 rupees for each girl from the homeowners (between A$350 and $700).

FSD had initially heard about just one victim, but soon discovered others were under the control of this trafficking network. On 23 April 2021, FSD worked with the police Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, the State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), the police commissioner, and a local social work partner on a rescue operation to find all of the victims and free them from the traffickers’ control.

The four young women were brought to a safe location, where they were free to give their official statements and begin recovering. FSD and local officials coordinated their immediate aftercare, including hospital care for one girl who tested positive for COVID-19. The others are safely in quarantine at a government-run shelter home, and FSD will soon help them return home.

Authorities conducted a thorough investigation of the trafficking ring who exploited the survivors and have filed a report against four suspects under India’s anti-trafficking laws.

One of the four traffickers apprehended in this case has been on a “most wanted” list in the state of Jharkhand for the last five years. Authorities believe many other traffickers are part of his network, so arresting him could lead to major busts in the future.

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