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International Women’s Day: A woman reunites with her biological family after 12 long years

Arunachal Pradesh has emerged as a hub to witness the trafficking of women and children who are forced into laboured activities.

ITANAGAR- ( By- Binny Yachu )  Arunachal Pradesh has emerged as a hub to witness the trafficking of women and children who are forced into laboured activities. Lack of awareness, paucity of work opportunities and frequent natural disasters push women and children into the hands of traffickers. Repatriation and reintegration into the community is also a huge challenge for the survivor in the violence, trafficking, missing and rescue case.

On the occasion of 8th March – International Women’s Day, we are glad to share one of the success stories of this month, a case of a child trafficking which was recovered with the support of Arunachal Women Helpline – 181, and she was reunited back with her biological family after 12 long years.

On 19th February 2022, a survivor of the domestic violence and child trafficking case was identified in Papu Hill Police station, Naharlagun and the case was received by WHL-181. The survivor was provided with protection, counselling and proper shelter at Swadhar Greh (Short Stay Home) run by Oju Welfare Association and later the case was forwarded to Arunachal Pradesh State legal Service Authority (APSLSA), where the matter was taken up by Legal Aid Counsel for further process.

When we recorded her statement, at the age of 8, her father was lured by a trafficker with false promises of work and education for them, and then soon her stepmother for a few tokens of money sold her to a person in Assam. Within a few hours, the trafficker brought her to the Banderdewa gate and sold her as a domestic helper to the Arunachal land. After a few weeks of stay at the APST home, she was again sold off to another APST person. After a few years, the man of the family took her to an isolated jungle and forcefully raped her and proclaimed her as his second wife.

Her husband is 45 years old and he is a married person. He has 5 children from his first wife. At present, she is currently married to him, and she has borne two children of him. At the age of her adolescence, she is bound to do all household chores and to look after her family. She seeks for freedom to choose and decide to live on her own terms. But her husband questions all her activities which constantly concluded in her being physically assaulted by her husband.

Her husband doesn’t allow her to go out and prohibit her from all social gatherings and social media platforms too. Under the watch of her husband, she dealt with all the restrictions and violence every day and every second in her life. One day, she went out with her friends to celebrate at the festival, but later that night, her husband scolded and physically assaulted her. She became very frustrated and ran away from her home and filed a complaint against her husband.

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The WHL -181 teams accommodated assistance and asked the survivor for her necessities. We asked her if she wants to lodge any complaint against anyone. She stated that whatever happened in her past couldn’t be changed. But she wishes to meet his biological family which she lost 12 years ago. She was determined to meet her family and she requested the WHL-181 team to drop her at Banderdewa gate.

She wanted to track the location of her lost biological family which included her mother, two younger sisters and one elder brother, she has already been sold numerous times and has lost all roads of her biological family members. She said I do not know anything about my past life, everyone calls me ‘Yana’ which was the name given to me by my husband.

She recollected her elder brother’s name and mumbled his name ‘Akramul’, crying and shouting “I want to meet my family, please save me”.With her fond memory, she recalled her village name ‘Chandmari’. WHL -181 teams was obliged to meet all her requirements as our team found out that she was a conceived women. So, with that little information, the details of the case were immediately forwarded to the Lakhimpur – One Stop Centre (OSC). With the help of Lakhimpur – One-stop Centre and concerned police who operated the Chandmari village, they did successfully locate her biological family.

In less than no time, her biological family came to the WHL – 181 centre and the survivor was reunited with her biological family after 12 long years. They had tears of joy and a blissful smile in their faces. It was such a one heart-warming moment to be witnessed by our WHL-181 teams.

In the presence of her biological family and her husband, counselling was provided and asked her biological family and husband to recognize their marriage through their local rituals in Assam by the Project Manager WHL -181 and legal guidance, rightful justice, and agreements were provided by Legal Counsel, APSLSA. She agreed to reside with her husband in her own will. Today, she is living an ordinary life happily with her husband and her children and stays in contact with her biological family. She is very grateful to WHL -181 and the team for all the aid and support provided to her.

We extend our sincere thanks to the Lakhimpur- One-stop centre (OSC) and his team for providing their valuable services. It was a difficult task as the survivor was lost for 12 years and had a torn hazy photo of her taken 12 years ago when she was 8 years old child. Our special appreciation to Legal Aid Counsel which is run under Oju Welfare Association and Arunachal Pradesh State Legal Service Authority (APSLSA) for providing lawful justice to the people in need and consistently helping WHL -181 teams. The above case is an exemplary case of the child trafficking case where many victims are still searching for their lost identities and with accountable teamwork and assistance; we have achieved greater success in providing help and assistance to suffering women and children.

Arunachal Women helpline – 181 (Toll-free) provide 24*7 services to all suffering Women and Children in need of help, which is run by Oju Welfare Association a Non – profit organization based in Naharlagun, Arunachal Pradesh. Deputy Commissioner (D.C), Itanagar Capital Complex (ICC) is our implementing Authority and Women and Child Development (WCD) is our Nodal Department for the implementation of the Women helpline – 181 in Arunachal Pradesh. Arunachal Women helpline – 181 was first enacted in 2015 which came into force in 2016. From 2016 till date, a total of 1104 cases have been registered and out of which 1016 cases have been solved successfully. Since the outbreak of COVID -19 pandemic lockdown, a total number of 240 cases of violence against women and children were reported to which all the possible help and assistance to the sufferer were provided successfully.

You can reach us through our toll-free number – 181 and WhatsApp number(94368522220) and landline number (0360 – 23503770) and, through our Facebook page – Arunachal Women Helpline and Email ID – whlap181@gmail.com.

WHL – 181 never stay back to provide our services and our team are always looking forward to contributing our service for the betterment of society and bringing a revolutionary change to control crimes against women and children.

The writer is Project Manager, Arunachal Women Helpline – 181, Run by Oju Welfare Association.

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