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Rifah* grew up in an extremely poor family in a rural village in Bangladesh. At the age of 14 and struggling with mental health problems, she dropped out of school.

After becoming extremely vulnerable, a trafficker from a neighbouring village decided she would be an easy target. He started to contact her, pretending he could get her treatment for her condition. He eventually introduced Rifah to his cousin Anik*; who Rifah fell in love with. Anik promised Rifah he would marry her and that they could get good jobs in India if she travelled with him there.

A few months later Rifah travelled with Anik and the trafficker to the Indian border. At the crossing Anik left her saying he would meet her at the destination. Later that day, Rifah was taken to India and sold to a couple who owned a brothel for just £800.

Rifah was then locked in a dark room and left there until they decided she needed to be used. Sometimes she was then taken out to clients for fixed periods ranging from 10-15 days, and forced to prostitute herself. For 5 long months, Rifah was raped and abused until Justice and Care traced and rescued her.

Having heard about the case through the police after Rifah’s mother lodged a missing person case, Justice and Care were able to get Rifah out of the brothel and into a shelter home. However, due to the extensive abuse and trauma, Rifah’s mental health had deteriorated. In the shelter home, she also found out she was pregnant and decided to put the baby up for adoption.

A few months later, Justice and Care helped to repatriate Rifah back to Bangladesh where she was reunited with her family. Justice and Care supported her as she recorded evidence for the court, despite being threatened by her traffickers and other members of her village.

Justice and Care has provided Rifah with psychosocial counseling, life skills development and support to combat her mental health problems. She has also had training on how to use a sewing machine and design her own clothes, which has enabled her to get a job in a  garment factory. Rifah is a very strong girl, demonstrated in her ability to keep fighting against the odds. With the support of Justice and Care and her family, she is now working toward a bright future.

Categories: Stories