Repatriation

Our colleagues in South Asia risk their lives every day when performing their work of freeing young girls from brothels. To give you an insight in to how they work we have described their work methods. Although every situation is different, the following summary may serve as a general overview.

(L) Pakhi (meaning "Bird" in Bangla) gets ready with floormate, in her bedfroom on the 3rd floor of the Joinal Bari brothel in Faridpur, central Bangladesh. Pakhi has worked in this brothel for two years and claims to be 22 years old. She was married for 4 years and ran away because her husband was crazy. When she went back to her fathers house her uncle took her to Dhaka, saying that he was going to enroll her in a dance school. Instead he sold her to a madame, and she has worked in this brothel for two years. "I am not scared of anyone. Sometimes this place is okay, sometimes it's not, but anything is better than living with my husband. I don't talk with my parents anymore. I miss them, but what can I do? I feel like Alyea (my madame) is my own mother. I love her and this is like my family. I dream of being a madame someday." .About 800 women and girls live and work inside the bustling brothel, comprised of four buildings situated on an important trading route on the banks of the Padma river. Many of chowkri (bonded sex workers) are underage. Some of the girls are runaways who leave home to escape a bad situation or marriage, and end up on the brothels when they have no where else to go. Many others have been kidnapped and sold to a madame by a parent or relative. They must take on 5-10 clients per day, and most receive no pay because they must repay their debt to their madame. ..

Part III: Repatriation

Many girls that are rescued from brothels in India were actually sold to the brothel. It is therefore important to find out whether the family was involved. There are also girls who have been trafficked by traffickers from Nepal and Bangladesh. Our partners take on the responsibility of accompanying the girls back to their home country. This is a complicated legal process because the girls often do not possess passports or any other documents to prove their identity due to the fact that they have been illegally smuggled across the border.

  • If the girl has testified in court, the necessary investigations have been completed and the official papers are in order, the girl can return home. When it is safe she will be reunited with her family. If the girl does not want to, or cannot return to her family, there are several options: in the case of underage girls the state Child Welfare Committees (CWC) decide what is best for her and she stays in child protective care at least until she is eighteen years old. Adult girls may decide for themselves what they wish to do and often they want to return home.
  • The request for repatriation is filed by official bodies at the start of the legal process.
  • With supervision, the girl travels home and is reunited with her family. The family is also offered family counselling.
  • If there are problems, the girl can fall back on the organisation that reunited her with her family for support. This is to prevent her from being re-trafficked and re-victimised.