NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Oct 25 - Shabnam (name changed), a young woman at present living with her maternal aunt near Seajuli Tea Estate under Bogeenadi Police Station in Lakhimpur district is the mother of two young children.
She was not allowed to stay in her parental house at Panchnoi near Dejoo Tea Estate. Shabnam recently escaped a long ordeal of sex slavery inside Arunachal Pradesh where she was abducted and trafficked at a very young age. She literally lost her own identity and childhood memories and also her mother tongue.
Citing instances of her traumatised life in Arunachal Pradesh, Shabnam narrated her endless nightmarish experiences of physical abuse and torture before this Correspondent.
Expressing her inability to name her abductor-trafficker as she was tender aged then, Shabnam said she was forced into motherhood at the age of 13 by her employer named Hagu Palang of Kamle district in Arunachal Pradesh.
She could not breast-feed her first child, who was a daughter, because of her teenaged motherhood. She was forced to work in the cardamom plantations of Hagu Palang for 12 hours a day even after the delivery of her child and was subjected to physical abuse by his wives from earlier marriages.
Shabnam said that Palang had three wives and he kept her as a sex slave. She also alleged that a son of Palang’s first wife murdered her daughter by drowning in a river. After that, Shabnam continued to be used and abused as a forced labour in the cardamom plantation and exploited as a sex slave by Palang for several years.
Shabnam, subsequently, gave birth to two more children – a daughter who is now two-and-a- half-years old and a son who is about one year old.
Not surprisingly, Shabnam awaited her chance to make an escape from the blood-stained clutches of her ruthless abductor, who exploited her endlessly. As she finally managed to give her abductor the slip, she ultimately reached the border of Lakhimpur district with the help of an old woman.
Strange though it may seem, her troubles did not end there as destiny had more misery in store for her – her parental family at Panchnoi, Dejoo refused to extend her much-needed shelter.
Her father Chunnilal Karmakar and mother Julie Karmakar are long dead. The apprehension of being ‘caught’ by Palang again naturally haunts Shabnam. A destitute today with two young children staring at an uncertain future, Shabnam is patiently awaiting justice.
Shabnam’s ghastly plight and longing for justice after her prolonged trauma once again lays bare the existence of sexual slavery of girls trafficked from Assam inside Arunachal Pradesh.
Significantly, Shabnam informed that there are many trafficked girls from Assam who are kept as slaves in remote areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Trafficking of both boys and girls to be engaged as slaves in various plantations and other back-breaking work inside Arunachal Pradesh has been covertly going on unabated.
In most cases the victims are from the tea garden Adivasi and religious minority communities of Assam who are targeted by the traffickers by taking advantage of their vulnerable position in the society.