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When Tanzim* was rescued she was uncooperative and volatile, and social workers found her difficult to manage. But she was a teenager deeply affected by her experiences.

Tanzim had lost almost her entire childhood. At the age of five, she was trafficked into domestic servitude. For 12 years she was forced to work – day and night – and never allowed to play or study. If she didn’t finish her work on time she was beaten, from which she still bears the scars.

On three different occasions, the police tried to rescue Tanzim. But, each time, her captor kept her locked away. Along with Tanzim was another child, Malika, who had also been trafficked at the age of five. She was five years younger and Tanzim looked after her like a younger sister. The two girls developed a strong bond and helped each other survive their wretched existence.

Finally, after reaching out for help to their neighbour, Tanzim and Malika were freed. This is when the case was referred to Justice and Care and we began to provide aftercare and legal support.

While Malika, who was 12 at the time, was open to change and unfamiliar faces, 17-year-old Tanzim was not.

But our team of dedicated social workers were committed to helping Tanzim, and after a difficult first year she began to open up.

Now, Tanzim has a great relationship with her social workers who find her a joy to be around, with her constant teasing and infectious cheerfulness. Tanzim’s initial disinterest in the Foundation Course was quickly replaced with dedication and a strong desire to accomplish more. While braiding her friends’ hair she would excitedly talk about opening a beauty salon.

She has now been employed at a salon, where she has been given monthly pay rises – the only one among her coworkers to receive this.

With this extra money Tanzim bought herself a phone. The first person she called was her social worker – to thank her for her relentless support, for trusting and believing in her and for never giving up.

The social worker said:

If they can trust their social worker, I can trust them too… all they need is someone to believe them when they say something is wrong. I want to be that person for them.

Categories: Stories