raNA SHARES HER STORY
RANA was kidnapped and forced into a sex ring when she was 14. Our Childine team found and rescued her then provided the legal and emotional support to help her seek justice. 22 men are now serving double life sentences after a long legal battle which resulted in the landmark ruling.
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Rana was just 14 years old when she was lured away from her family by an older man, drugged, raped, and forced into a child sex ring.
Together with one other girl, she was passed between hotels and guesthouses for six months between 2005 and 2006. They were only rescued after Rana’s father called the Snehalaya Childline. She was located and rescued by Anil Gawade and Milind Kulkarni of Snehalaya on 23 February 2006.
“That night when the girls arrived they were in shock, they were experiencing trauma”, says Kulkarni. “We called the police who took them so they got the story. We accompanied them; [Snehalaya’s] policy is that when there is a discriminated girl, we try to be with them. We neither push or pressure them, nor do we remain in the background. We are with the survivor, always.”
In 2007, a year after the crimes had taken place, Rana’s case was brought before the District and Sessions Court in Ahmednagar, where 25 attackers were tried for gang rape and forced prostitution. During the trial, Rana was cross-examined by 20 diﬀerent lawyers for seven consecutive months. Court documents call this cross-examination “exhaustive and extensive.”
“I felt nervous and anxious” Rana says of being on the witness stand for such a long time. “My attackers were all in front of me and I was worried they would threaten to kill me. I could see them sitting there.”
The case was ﬁnally concluded in 2010 after a four year investigation. It resulted in a landmark ruling by District and Sessions Court Judge Makarand Keskar on 20 October 2010. The judge sentenced 22 people – many of whom were well known local political leaders, merchants, and hotel owners – to two consecutive life sentences each for gang rape and criminal conspiracy. Without Snehalaya’s guidance, counselling and unwavering support, this would not have been possible. “It was Anil and Snehalaya” Rana explained, that helped her endure the four traumatic years of the trial. “Without them I don’t know where I would be.”
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MANDAPUL SHARES HER STORY
MANDAPUL is just one of our peer educators, sex workers who support our work in six of our district's red-light areas. Without their help we wouldn't be able to ensure there are no underage sex workers in Ahmednagar.
Mandapul is a peer educator for Snehajyot – Snehalaya’s sexual health and awareness clinics for sex workers – in Ahmednagar City’s red light district. She previously worked as a prostitute for 15 years, before meeting Snehalaya who opened up positive options and ways out of her life of prostitution.
Peer educators act as a bridge between Snehalaya and sex workers – it’s much better for the information to come from people who understand the sex industry and the challenges women face. Her main job is working to prevent the spread of HIV by teaching sex workers how and why to use condoms.
As a result of outreach projects like Snehajyot, sexually transmitted diseases have signiﬁcantly declined in the district and continue to do so.
ranA SHARES HER STORY
When RANA's husband died from AIDS she discovered she was HIV+ and her in laws started making her life a misery. With suicidal thoughts overwhelming her she came to Snehalaya where the power of our children's laughter saved her. Today she is one of our most popular caretakers.
A REASON TO LIVE
Rana was born to poor, illiterate farmers. They instilled in her the belief that she had a right to the education they had missed out on. She excelled in her studies and, even after her arranged marriage, she was able to complete her 12th Standard. She was happy and excited about her future.
Then, life delivered her a huge blow. Within a month of being diagnosed with AIDS, Rana’s husband was dead. Fearing the worst, Rana cried all the way to her own HIV test, it was positive. Returning home, her in-laws shunned her, even refusing to let her use the bathroom out of fear of contracting the virus passed on to her by their own son.
Cast out, Rana came to Snehalaya where she spent two months in hospital feeling frustrated and at times suicidal. It was the sound of children playing and laughing outside that cut through her gloom and helped beat off her depression. Rana left her bed and started spending time with the orphaned and long-term foster children we provide shelter to, many of whom are also HIV+.
She started working as a cook in or kitchen but soon her natural rapport with the children made her the natural choice to fill a vacant caretaker role. Spending her days caring for the children who saved her, receiving the love and respect reserved for a mother, she has learned to look beyond her diagnosis to find a new purpose and hope in life.
kaAma SHARES HER STORY
KAMAA’s mother refused to believe her when she accused the man she was having an affair with of rape. By 13 she was pregnant and her mother was dying from AIDS. At Kamaa’s request, we helped her through her pregnancy, found her baby adoptive parents and sent her rapist to jail.
TOO MUCH, TOO YOUNG
Kaama comes from a very poor family. When her father left their village to find work, her mother started an affair with a younger man.
The man started spending a lot of time around the family home and one day when her mother was out, he took advantage of the situation and raped Kaama. When she told her mother what had happened, she refused to believe her. With no protection from her parent, the man continued to rape Kaama until eventually she fell pregnant at the age of 13.
Kaama’s mother who was now very ill with HIV was too sick to help her. Fortunately, someone told her about Snehalaya. We welcomed her to our campus and helped her through her pregnancy.
Kaama was very traumatised from her ordeal and scared about the future for herself and her unborn child. She received a lot of counselling and when her son was born, Kaama gave her consent for him to be taken into the care of our adoption centre. We soon found him an adoptive family able to give him the safe and secure future Kaama was too young and incapable of providing for herself.
Kaama’s mother has since died of an AIDS-related illness and thanks to our legal aid, her rapist has been jailed. She has recently gone back to school and is trying to put it all behind her.
PIA SHARES HER STORY
Orphaned at 10 years-old, PIA and her sister Riya, were forced to marry pimps. Snehalaya intervened to take the sisters out of brothels and back into school. Pia a professional cook, is now supporting Riya to complete her secondary education.
"Our home of love keeps families together.”
Pia is 18. Orphaned at ten years old, she was left to fend for herself and her two younger siblings.
They lived on the streets until her sister, Riya, was kidnapped by a brothel keeper, who also forced Pia to marry a pimp.
Pia escaped her husband nine days later and returned to the streets. Meanwhile, the police had located Riya and, as she was HIV positive, brought her to Snehalaya.
“We found all three siblings and brought them back to the safety of our shelter home”
Within eight days, Riya ran away to find her brother and sister. When we realised the reason why she had escaped, we found all three siblings and brought them back to the safety of our shelter home. Pia has been trained in the onsite kitchen and is now a professional cook, while Riya is completing her 12th standard. With your support, Snehalaya can help more women and children like Pia and Riya to realise their full potential through vocational training and education.
DEEPA SHARES HER STORY
DEEPA was sold into a brothel aged 15, after her mother died of AIDS related illnesses. Today she is a qualified nurse and talks nationally sharing her story of escape from commercial sex work that Snehalaya's long term support enabled.
A MOTHERS DYING WISH
“Please God save my daughter from the same fate as me.”
These were the dying words of 15-year-old Deepa’s mother. A sex worker, she had single-handedly brought up her daughter protecting her from the brothel keepers and pimps preying on young girls, but could no longer fight the HIV she had contracted through unprotected sex and was dying of tuberculosis. At her side were her teenage daughter and friend Ashabai, also a sex worker. Deepa’s mother begged her friend to care for Deepa and protect her from a life of prostitution.
"Although very badly beaten,
she was still alive"
The situation for Deepa was horrendous, a constant stream of customers wreaking havoc on her young body and forcing her to have unsafe sex. Aware of the risks and the fate of her mother and guardian she tried to run away three times but was always caught by the brothel keeper and their thugs. Finally she managed to convince a customer to get a message to Ashabai to come and save her.
Ashabai sensing the desperation in the message came to the brothel to try to bring Deepa home with her. The brothel keeper didn’t want to give up the girl who was bringing in so much money. Knowing Ashabai was weak, the brothel keeper beat her hoping she would die from her injuries and Deepa would become their ‘property’.
Fortunately she was stronger than they thought and although very badly beaten she was still alive and taken to hospital. There, she was visited by Snehalaya volunteers investigating her attack. Through tears she confessed her role in Deepa’s fate and begged the team to mount a rescue. Our team raided the brother in the early hours of the morning and despite violent resistance from the brothel keepers, Deepa was found and rescued.
Deepa was brought to Snehalaya, counseled and re-enrolled in school. In spite of the traumas she had endured since the death of her mother she adjusted well to her new environment and was soon excelling in her studies. Today Deepa is a nurse in a local hospital and represents Snehalaya at many events, including a National Conference of Freed Commercial Sex Workers, sharing her story and the transformation our intervention has had on her life.
"Even though my mother's worst nightmare was realised when I was forced into sex work, thanks to Snehalaya I now have a very good career which I love. I think my mother would be very happy for me and grateful to everyone who saved me from the brothel."
Through your support we are able to continue to mount rescues to rescue others like Deepa, removing them from horrific and life-threatening situations giving them refuge and the education to make their own life choices. It’s thanks to you that we can continue to confidently report that there are no minor girls working in the sex industry in our district of 4.5 million and that we have reduced second generation prostitution by 70%.