Raju* was devastated when his eldest daughter Swathi* went missing. When the teenager was rescued a few months later, she was terrified about her father finding out the truth – how she had been forced to have sex with men every day and had contracted HIV.
But on hearing the news, her father’s main concern was that she was now safe. With the help of Justice and Care, the two were reunited and Raju* has been by his daughter’s side as she has begun to rebuild her life and given evidence against her traffickers in court.
If I cannot be by her side when she needs it the most, who will?
Swathi* was trafficked when she was 17 years old. She was lured by the promise of a job in the big city, and ran away from home chasing a dream. But when she arrived, she was drugged and taken to a brothel. Here, she was kept in a locked room and was never allowed out alone.
Each day, she was taken all over town and forced to have sex with men for very little money. Her escort would always stand guard outside making sure she did not escape.
Raju* was frantic when his daughter went missing. Swathi* had lost her mother when she was very young, and her and her sister were brought up by their father. As a result, the three of them were very close. When Raju couldn’t find his daughter, he drowned his troubles in alcohol each day.
Swathi* was rescued a few months after being trafficked and taken to a shelter by Justice and Care. When our social workers located Raju*, Swathi* was terrified of what her father would think of her. But still, she urged them to tell him everything – everything apart from the fact a medical examination had revealed she was now HIV positive.
After Raju had been told of his daughter’s horrific experiences, his first question was: “Is she safe now?”
When reassured by our social workers she was safe in a shelter home, he wanted to know how he could get her back home as quickly as possible. Encouraged by our social workers, he stopped drinking and used the money he had saved up to buy a new house for Swathi* to return to.
During her time at the shelter home, Swathi* had enrolled on a tailoring course which she completed. So when she returned to live with her father, seven months after being rescued, Swathi* took up a tailoring job to help him.
About five months later, Swathi told her father about her medical condition. Although he was initially upset, Raju* then proceeded to be even more supportive of his daughter. His support has been a major reason why the criminal case against her abusers has gone so smoothly.
Despite being approached by her trafficker multiple times, Swathi* has never backed down. She continues to defend her case by testifying in court against the people who wronged her. And she has her father with her every step of the way.