Meet Sahena - a sex trafficking survivor turned successful tea shop owner

Sahena* was only in her 20s when she was pulled into the dark world of sex trafficking. She was controlled, beaten and forced to have sex with several different men every day. Her emotions meant nothing to the men who visited her.

She was seen merely seen as a product of pleasure who has been paid for the next hour. After years of exploitation in the bylanes of Worli, Mumbai, Sahena was rescued by the Mumbai police in collaboration with VIHAAN. Sahena went back to her village, but what she faced was discrimination. 

“I felt completely alone. Even a glass of water from me was considered impure. I was looked upon and rejected socially”, said Sahena swallowing her tears. 

Her initial healing journey was long and overwhelming; VIHAAN’s counsellors stood with her in these difficult times and helped her regain hope and confidence. It took years for Sahena to feel a sense of normalcy. 

Sahena’s wish for a normal life didn’t last long. 

She was extremely happy to get married – all the more about finding an understanding person who is committed to spending the rest of his life with her. Sadly, Sahena’s husband was an alcoholic and extremely violent. She was forced to have sex with him and in the following years, she gave birth to three children. Her husband provided limited funds to run the house, which led her to work as a house help to feed her children. She was not only a victim of sex trafficking but became a victim of domestic abuse and violence. 

Not many knew what went on behind the doors. VIHAAN’s team explained her rights and encouraged her to file a complaint with the local police against her husband. She finally did. He was arrested, but he was released soon. He went back to his old habits and coerced Sahena to give birth a fourth time. 

Sahena’s mother, who also worked as a house help, tried to the best of her abilities to support her daughter but soon died of a stroke, leaving them alone. 

Sahena was broken at heart. VIHAAN’s team continue to support Sahena through counselling sessions. During the conversation, our team member identified the potential in Sahena to be an entrepreneur. When we shared the idea, she jumped with joy. 

Because of the kindness and generosity of partners like you, VIHAAN provided financial support to set up the tea stall as well as provided her with materials like tea powder, milk, snacks, utensils, and an oven to start a tea stall in her village. 

*Names changed to protect identity. Images are for representational purposes only. 

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