Leena* was an innocent 5-year-old when her family sent her to live with Neelam, who gave the family some money and promised to look after the needs and well-being of the child. In reality Neelam had preyed on the vulnerability of Leena's family and 'bought' her with the intention of exploiting her for domestic servitude. Little Leena was never allowed to play or go to school. She was trapped in Neelam's home and never allowed out, forced to work from early in the morning until late at night, and could rest only if her chores were completed. If she ever protested or if her work wasn't satisfactory, Leena used to be beaten up. Leena tried to run away many times but was always caught and brought back to Neelam's, where she was threatened and assaulted. In desperation, she reached out to a neighbour who then informed the police about her situation.
On three different instances, the police came to rescue Leena but Neelam and her family managed to keep her hidden from the authorities. Finally, in 2015, the neighbour informed the police for the fourth time and they were able to not only rescue Leena but also another girl, Kavya*. Both the girls had been living as slaves for 12 years.
Post rescue, the police referred the cases to WMS. Our aftercare team spent a lot of time counselling the girls and helping them deal with the trauma they had to endure. They had never been paid for the work they did or given any choice in how they wanted to live their lives: they had never been treated with dignity.
Over the years, the team has ensured that both the girls are well cared for and that they are given opportunities to make choices about their futures. While Leena is working as a bright and talented beautician, Kavya is continuing to make steady progress as a high school student. We are delighted to see how they have blossomed into happy and confident young girls.
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