This new documentary shines light in the life of a girl child trafficked for sex

Apr 15, 2018, 15:00 IST | Aastha Atray Banan

A new documentary aims to give the country an experience into the life of a child who has been trafficked for sex, and it's a horrifying one

A still from the docu Amoli, which is about the search of a 15-year-old, who vanished from a Siliguri tea plantation five years ago
A still from the docu Amoli, which is about the search of a 15-year-old, who vanished from a Siliguri tea plantation five years ago

The Unnao and Kathua rapes aren't the only chilling proof of exploitation of women and children in India. Mumbai-based digital media firm, Culture Machine's new digi documentary, tells the story of a survivor of trafficking. Amoli-Priceless, which releases on April 30 across YouTube and Facebook, in English, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi and Kannada, follows the story of Amoli, who five years ago, vanished from a Siliguri tea plantation.Akanksha Seda, creative head, Amoli
Akanksha Seda, creative head, Amoli

Through the search for this 15-year-old, the film discusses commercial sexual exploitation of children, a business estimated to be worth $32 billion. "The scale is unbelievable, and so is the lack of knowledge surrounding the malaise. We were aiming to make a film that balanced information with emotion," says Akanksha Seda, creative head for the project.

Acclaimed documentary makers and National Award winners, Jasmine and Avinash Roy, were brought on board to travel to "source areas" in Bengal and Bihar, before they got to core of Amoli's story in Siliguri. During their recce, they came across many stories of girls who had disappeared in Siliguri. One of them was Amoli's, and the makers spoke to her parents and grandmother to get to the root of the matter.

Jasmine Roy, director
Jasmine Roy, director

"On the way [to find Amoli], we met survivors who now live in shelter homes, and some who are still in the trade. A young girl who had been sold to a businessman at age 14, was injected with hormones and then sexually abused. Filmmakers and journalists think we have seen everything, but this was something else," Jasmine narrates.

The documentary's trailer highlights a growing demand for younger children, and as Avinash says, one of the reasons parents are more than ready to hawk their daughters is due to abject poverty. "Girls are sold for as little as Rs 1,200 to agents who are respected as providers of 'jobs'. A virgin could be sold for as much as one lakh."

Despite the unabashed exploitation, what struck the filmmakers was the its invisible nature. Although the stories existed, also corroborated by law authorities and social workers, to find them in the real world and for reel, was close to impossible. "Everyone is smart enough to cover all bases. That's why it has become a booming trade. Their [girls'] papers are forged, and hormonal injections are given to them so that they don't appear minor," says Jasmine. Seda adds, "There are approximately 36 lakh children who are trafficked every year in India, and there is no real evidence surrounding their exploitation."

If a change has to be set in motion, it can only be the result of "choking the demand, and shifting the stigma from the survivor to the perpetrator," says Seda. And did they find Amoli? "There is no trace of her yet."

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