NGO: Won't send back only Bangla PM's cook's daughter

Published: 21 November, 2011 08:40 IST | Akela |

Defying pressure from authorities, NGO refuses to send back 21-year-old flesh trade victim -- Shaikh Hasina's cook's daughter -- unless authorities agree to send home all 125 victims that the NGO is sheltering

Defying pressure from authorities, NGO refuses to send back 21-year-old flesh trade victim -- Shaikh Hasina's cook's daughter -- unless authorities agree to send home all 125 victims that the NGO is sheltering

Send me home: Khushi wants to go back to her son and home in Bangladesh, but says she has no complaints when it comes to the stance of the NGO that rescued her

A Mumbai-based NGO is squaring up to the authorities of two nations, resisting the repatriation of a Bangladeshi girl it rescued from a Kamathipura brothel. Its reason: there are 125 other Bangladeshi victims of forced prostitution that it shelters; why are the authorities interested in playing saviour only to this particular victim?
The victim, Khushi Khan (21, name changed), is the daughter of a cook employed at the official bungalow of Bangladeshi premier Shaikh Hasina. The NGO maintains that the favouritism will devastate others like Khushi, who have been languishing in the city for years.

Sold for Rs 25,000
The rampant cross-border human trafficking -- involving young gullible girls from Bangladesh who are forced into flesh trade from the red-light districts in Hyderabad to the alleys of Kamathipura -- enmeshed Khushi earlier this year.

Originally a resident of Pargali Sadarpada, Gopalganj in Bangladesh, Khushi has six sisters and three brothers. This year in May, a family friend Musto brought her to India after promising to secure her a maid's job with a handsome salary. Khushi, a divorcee, left her one-year-old son in her mother's care to earn a decent living here.

But she was unaware that she was falling quarry to a sexual predator. Musto sold her to a brothel in Surat for Rs 40,000 in May. After nearly a month, the brothel owner sold her to a brothel keeper in Kamathipura for Rs 25,000.

In June, Rescue Foundation, a city NGO working for the rehabilitation and repatriation of victims of human trafficking, got to know of Khushi. One of its activists met Khushi in the disguise of a customer, and later established contact with her mother, the cook in Shaikh Hasina's official residence. Incidentally, Khushi's brother is a gardener at the bungalow.

After being informed of the incident, the prime minister wrote about the matter to the Government of Maharashtra through Interpol. In turn, the state government asked the Mumbai police to rescue Khushi. On June 29, Crime Branch officials raided the brothel, rescued Khushi and handed her over to Rescue Foundation. But the NGO's chairman, Triveni Acharya, refuses to facilitate her deportation.  Today, Khushi is six months into her first pregnancy since the sexual abuse she suffered here.

All or nothing
Acharya has withered the pressure from the Bangladeshi PM, their home ministry, social welfare department, high commission, and the Maharashtra women and child welfare development department. Even a special court in Mazgaon had given an NOC to hand over Khushi to the Bangladesh government. But Acharya has put her foot down. Justifying her stance, she said, "There are more than 125 Bangladeshi girls in our foundation. But nobody has shown any interest in emancipating them. The girls have been languishing here for four-five years."

She added, "I am under a lot of pressure from the higher authorities in Bangladesh and Maharashtra. But I strictly refuse to hand over Khushi. I have immense sympathy for her, but I have it for the other girls too, who say they will end their lives if they do not get to go home."

Victim speaks
When MiD DAY spoke to Khushi and told her that the Rescue Foundation is not ready to send her back, she said, "I want to go back to my home as early as can be managed, but I have no complaints with Didi (Acharya). I have studied until Std V, but I learned to write my name in English in this foundation," she said, jotting down her name on a piece of paper to prove her point.

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