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CHILDLINE 1098 Service » News » Justice at last for Shafiya

The story of Shafiya is no usual narration.

"I used to be really sad and frustrated with what was happening in my life," These are the words of an innocent 18 year old girl who saw the light of justice 4 years after being a victim of rape and flesh trade. Shafiya was 15 when she began wearing makeup, staying up until 2 a.m. and doing something she never liked.

Shafiya belongs to poor family background. Her father was an alcoholic and didn't go for any work. She had five sisters and two brothers and was the eldest in the family. Shafiya studied upto fifth standard from Bandra School and had to drop out of school to help her mother and take care for her younger siblings.

Shafiya's mother was duped by her friend Reshma Mohammad into believing her daughter would get to work better in Kolhapur. Shafiya was promised employment in Kolhapur and sent to Kolhapur under false pretext of work of maid servant misrepresenting about good earning there from purposefully under misconception of facts. But when they arrived there, Reshma sold her for Rs.5000/- to Lata Prakash and Mumtaz Mohammad, two other women who took her to the red light district and she was forced into commercial sexual activities. They lived on earning of prostitution.

Shafiya was completely unaware of what their real plan for her was. Shafiya was forces to do prostitution against her will and abetted commission of rape. On the first day itself, she was raped by a customer in a lodge. When Shafiya's mother couldn't contact her, she began a frantic search and called CHILDLINE for help.

CHILDLINE in action

On January 14, 2008, CHILDLINE 1098 received a call from an anxious mother to report a complaint for her missing 15 year old daughter. CHILDLINE Mumbai stepped in to this case, and the rescue involved an under- cover operation and linking up with the local police.

When CHILDLINE team members went to meet Reshma who assured them that Shafiya was happy and was working legally. She refused to provide details about the location and manner of her work. On further contacting her, she spoke of Shafiya being in Kolhapur. After much investigation and effort, the CHILDLINE team managed to rescue the child. The child was rescued from a Kolhapur brothel on February 29, 2008 with the help of the Police. It was found that girl was subjected to physical and sexual abuse in the brothel and afraid to speak. The necessary support and counseling was provided to the child before she was produced before the CWC who directed her to a Shelter Home.

CHILDLINE also approached the NGO Justice and Care and requested to provide the legal support to follow up the case in court. Subsequently, a team was formed with the D.N Nagar police and inquiries were made in Kolhapur, with information being obtained regarding Shafiya's whereabouts.

Shafiya was brought back to Mumbai on March 1, 2008 and convinced to file an FIR against the perpetuator in order to receive the justice she deserved. On March 02, 2008, Reshma, was arrested by the Investigating Officer, Mr. Khade. On March 04, 2008, the Investigation team took Shafiya to Kolhapur to assist with proceedings and arrested one of the accused, Lata Paithankar.

Justice delivered

The case was arranged to be transferred to another prosecuting lawyer who was to agree to a settlement. This was done without Shafiya's mother's full understanding, and she was made to sign her agreement. CHILDLINE stepped in to prevent misconduct of justice and reversed the change of lawyer with the help of Justice and Care.

The Mumbai Court sentenced three accused to seven years imprisonment for trafficking and forcing the child into prostitution. The three of the defendants were found guilty on all counts and were sentenced to seven years of imprisonment. One of the women who bought Shafiya was convicted of perpetrating a rape, while all three were convicted under the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act. Shafiya told the judge in detail how she had been sold and then raped and exploited by the three women. "The brothel where I was ... there [were] many customers coming in every day. The owner used to verbally abuse us, and if we didn't comply, [she] would start beating us with wires, rods and hot spoons," said Shafiya.

The three accused were also sentenced under sections 366, 372, 373 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deal with the buying and selling of minors; charges under which convictions have been rare in the past. During the court proceedings, Shafiya's mother was offered Rs. 2 lakh by the traffickers, though a mediator, in order to withhold her testimony.

Sections 366 (Abduction of a Woman for Prostitution), 372, 373 and 376 (Punishment for Rape) of the Indian Penal Code, as well as Sections 4 (Punishment for Living on the Earnings of Prostitution) and 5 (Procuring, Inducing or Taking a Person for the Sake of Prostitution) of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA). Shafiya was sent to the Advait shelter home at Virar, and she has given her 10th board exams. Currently, Shafiya is happy and will pursue her further studies. She enjoys what she is doing.

Note: Name of child has been changed to protect her.

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