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As part of our work in one of Mumbai’s red-light areas, Kamathipura, we come across many people who have faced the trauma of human trafficking. We encourage them to share their stories with us as a way of processing their traumatic experiences, so that they may begin the process of healing. Sharing these stories online is our way of helping the voices of these forgotten people reach the mainstream, so that others may treat them with compassion and empathy.

One such story is that of Vibha (name changed), who currently lives and works in Kamathipura. She shared with us her story that began in Kolkata, with a turbulent marriage to a violent man. Being from a financially weak family, she was married off to an unsuitable man who physically and emotionally abused her. After she had her two daughters, she began to fear for their safety as well. She met a kind older lady who told her that she could help Vibha and her daughters escape to Gujarat for a better life. Unfortunately, the lady ended up duping Vibha and bringing her to Kamathipura.

Now Vibha has somehow managed to ensure that her two daughters are safe back with her own mother in West Bengal. Her own life in Kamathipura is far from ideal; having become a part of the flesh trade, she and her community live on the margins of society and often face oppression and humiliation from the mainstream society and authorities. Mumbai Smiles is trying to help women like Vibha to process their grief and their emotional issues, so that perhaps one day they can be empowered to lead a better life.

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