Arya Will Have Better Life with Mumbai Smiles

 In Advocacy, Human trafficking

Arya is 14 years old, lives with her mother and her two sisters, in a shelter home near Thane. So far her life has not been easy, her mother is sick with HIV. They earn their life y earning money through occasional prostitution and the salary incurred by one of the daughters who does cleaning work. They live in very precarious conditions, yet they have gathered courage to move ahead in their life. This is about how Arya can have better life with Mumbai Smiles.

Few days ago, a real nightmare began for Arya. Being  a “soft target” of sexual exploitation for mafias, Arya, her mother and her sisters had to suffer the harassment. After being under a continuous surveillance of the traffickers, Arya was kidnapped by five men. She was locked in room and drugged for five days, during those days they raped and tortured her repeatedly.

However, Arya managed to escape and return to the vicinity of her home. A neighbor of hers found her in a sorry state. She could barely stammer what had happened to her.

At Mumbai Smiles, in recent months we have dedicated an important part of our efforts to build a good network to respond to this type of situation, with other organizations and institutions that also work in the fight against human trafficking. Two of them are Alert India and YUVA (which is the Childline, childcare service, for the Thane area).

The girl’s mother is a beneficiary of Alert India, as an HIV patient. She contacted them when her daughter was found and the organization quickly shared the information with Mumbai Smiles. At the same time, while we started the necessary actions, we contacted YUVA, who is the one who has the legal power so that Arya could access a center dedicated to protect minors, which is under the government control, in order to guarantee not only the necessary care required at that time, but also a safe space to stay away from the danger of the mafias.

The response was quick and they took care of the girl, offering her the necessary attention in her state of shock and health. Parallelly, the Mumbai Smiles team visited her mother to learn about her situation first hand and explain the steps that were being followed. At that moment we were able to verify the terrible situation of this family. Her precarious economic situation raised the question whether the mother can follow her treatment rigorously, which limits the possibilities of meeting the conditions to be able to take care of her daughters as they need it, because, the terrible experience which Arya has suffered has threatened her sisters as well.

The mother was in a state of significant shock, her gaze absent, almost unable to utter a word, and her highest priority was to be able to see her daughter.

Later, we visited the facility where Arya had entered. After five hours of waiting, in the courtyard with other families and other children waiting to enter, we were able to meet the head of the center. He attended us for a few minutes and we could see Arya. He invited us to meet again. The situation of the center was also quite precarious and highlighted the need to invest all kinds of resources in the centers for the protection of minors.

After experiencing this situation, in Mumbai Smiles we are going to focus our efforts to advance in the following steps:

  • Manage to transfer Arya to a private center with better resources and care, paid by our organization. Simultaneously, keeping the priority to claim better conditions for public centers.
  • Continue working with her family to protect her sisters and ensure their safety and future opportunities.
  • Follow the necessary legal procedure to arrest the traffickers who kidnapped, raped and tortured Arya in order to present us as a private prosecution in a possible trial.

In the coming weeks we will continue working on this case to respond to Arya’s needs and ensure that those responsible for her situation do not get away with this outrage. We hope to bring a little light and hope to the life of this 14-year-old girl, with whom we will undoubtedly fight for her recovery and to achieve a dignified, free life with opportunities.

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