India (MNN) — Kidnappers snatched a young boy and a young girl from their families in Northern India 12 years ago–and they vanished.
As often happens in cases like this, the captors traded the innocence of the children on the sex market. Hasina* was eight-years-old when she was sold to a trafficker who forced her into sex slavery, only allowing her one meal a day.
The boy, who was taken at the same time, vowed to escape. CH Dyer with Bright Hope International says one day that opportunity came, and he fled. Before he left, however, Hasina begged him to let her family know where she was.
Eventually, the boy found Hasina's family and revealed her plight to them. The next few days were likely an emotional roller coaster for them. Imagine first, the thrill of knowing she was still alive. Then, imagine the shock and horror of discovering what she endured in captivity for 12 years…and finally, the guilt.
Dyer picks up the story there. "One of the older brothers took [the boy] to the police and said, ‘What are you going to do to rescue my sister?' The police said, ‘We can't do anything.'"
Rasul*, Hasina's brother was fighting discouragement after countless efforts of being turned down and ignored by local police. Then, "As they were leaving the police station, they saw a sticker [promoting] the program that our two churches are running. They called the number, got in touch with the church, and asked, ‘Can you help us?'"
Leaders from Bright Hope International's Anti-Human Trafficking Team in Northern India took the information Rasul gave them and started investigating. Dyer says, "They found this girl being held captive. They got word to her that she should go to a certain location." She was instructed to escape to the rooftop of the building where the team was awaiting her. "They picked her up in a van and escaped. She's now in a safe house, secured and safe from her captors after 12 years."
There was relief after her rescue. However, Hasina's recovery was just beginning. "She is in the worst shape they've seen a person. There's been physical malnutrition of course. There's been physical abuse. Mentally, she's just struggling to even believe she's free."
Was there justice? Some cases where BHI's Anti-Human Trafficking Team intervened brings swift justice. In other cases, not so much. Sadly, this is true in Hasina's case. The team reports that when police raided the house where she was enslaved, no one was found. It is believed that Hasina's captors fled after realizing two of their slaves had escaped. But an application against her trafficker has been filed, and investigation is currently in process.
For now, she is staying with her brother and is undergoing counseling once a week with BHI's dedicated rehabilitation team. Dyer says this is a long-term commitment to Hasina and other girls like her. This young woman began performing unspeakable acts at the age of eight and is now trying to find herself as a 20-year-old. "We are obviously working physically, we're working spiritually and restoratively, and mentally to see what kind of condition she's in. We're in touch with doctors and counselors in order to help her on her road to restoration."
Praise God that she was rescued and has the capability to find her hope and identity in Christ. "We're empowering two churches to do this work. They want to be on the front lines in India, in their communities, rescuing these young women and helping with the rehabilitation and restoration."
Work like this is costly, though. Dyer says an already tight budget has been stretched even thinner. "We're running on fumes," he says in response to the question: "How thin?" They have more cases with girls like Hasina who need help and rescue. The team wants to build more safe houses to protect those they've rescued from deplorable conditions.
Bright Hope is working to develop a network of churches in India to raise awareness and build strategic partnerships to take action against these inhumane acts. Click here if you can help or just want to learn more.
*Name changed for security reasons.