Trafficked, abused minor from Tripura rescued in Rajasthan
A 14-year-old girl from Tripura was trafficked, sold twice, raped multiple times, forcibly married off and had to undergo an abortion in a span of about four months beginning March, according to her statement to authorities in Rajasthan.
The girl, who managed to escape from her in-laws’ house in Jhunjhunu on May 2, has been rescued. She has been staying at a shelter home since. The minor is expected to be taken back to her state by a team of the Tripura Commission for Protection of Child Rights next week.
Her statement before a magistrate and a panel of the Rajasthan Commission for Protection of Child Rights on June 23 narrates her ordeal that began in her home district of Unakoti four months back and continued in Jhunjhunu, about 2,500km away from her home.
According to her statement, she lived with her mother, four sisters and a brother. A Tripura child rights body official said her father died a few years ago and that the family was living in extreme poverty.
In the statement, the girl said a neighbour told her family that he will marry her off to a good family. “My mother is very poor. My family agreed,” she said in the statement on June 23, a copy of which is with HT.
For seven days, the neighbour kept the girl in Assam’s Silchar and she was “physically abused four times”, the minor said.
The neighbour trafficked her to Delhi and sold her to a resident of Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu in April. He then sold her to his neighbour for ~2 lakh, according to the girl. Later, the second person married her.
Sangeeta Beniwal, the chairperson of the Rajasthan child rights body, said the girl was raped by her husband five times between April and May. “Her mother-in-law also harassed her for not understanding the local language and being slow with household chores,” Beniwal said.
On May 2, the minor managed to escape from her husband’s house and hid in a nearby field, according to a Jhunjhunu police official. The husband filed a missing person’s report, saying his wife aged 20 years had gone missing.
After police found her the next day, members of the Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (RSCPCR) met her and suspected that she was much younger than the age mentioned in the complaint.
The girl was kept in a government rehabilitation centre in Jhunjhunu and the district child rights body wrote to Tripura police for her details, Mandawa police station in-charge Mukesh Kumar said. The area where in-laws live falls under the Mandawa police jurisdiction.
“The girl told us that she has been living here for three-four months and that she is a native of Tripura. She also told us that she doesn’t want to live with her in-laws after which we kept her in a shelter home of an NGO,” said a police official who did not want to be named.
After the Tripura police sent the documents, it was found that she was just 14 years old. Her medical tests conducted on June 15 found that she was 11 weeks’ pregnant.
On June 23, the girl told authorities she would go for an abortion, which was done on July 2, according to Beniwal.
Police booked the two Jhunjhunu men for kidnapping, trafficking and rape. They were arrested and sent to jail. Police are also looking for the neighbour of the girl.
The Tripura high court took suo motu (on its own) cognisance on June 17 and sought the state’s response on “appropriate ways to ensure the safety and security of the minor girl”.
According to the Tripura government’s reply on July 6, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and the child rights bodies in Tripura and Rajasthan were coordinating to reunite the girl with her family.
“The state government will send a team to Rajasthan soon to bring back the girl,” Barnali Goswami, chairperson of Tripura Commission for Women, said.
(With inputs from Priyanka Deb Burman in Agartala)