It’s easy to sell a child

Here are two stories from the streets of Dhaka.handshold

A Close Call

She ran home for lunch leaving her young daughter with her mother.  But her mother didn’t realise, and by evening Mim was gone. A neighbour saw the little girl unattended, kidnapped her, and sold her — a mere $57, but it’s likely another sale to traffickers was in the works. We searched and searched through the area, and finally got enough information to find out who had taken her. By force we found out the area she had been taken and tracked her down. The family who had bought Mim wouldn’t give up their purchase until the police were called, but we are now celebrating. Mim is back, her mother’s tearful, prayerful vigil is ended, and we are freshly aware of how we must train and protect those we love.
A few days later, here’s what we found: the people who helped find Mim are demanding to be paid. The people jailed have been set free. At first I couldn’t understand why there seemed to be no paperwork from the arrest — but officials want no paper trail when those arrested bribe their way free. How many children will be trafficked in the future because no one cares about the children of the poor and powerless?

Rima’s Life So Far

Rima’s life started badly; her father abandoned her mother when she was pregnant with her, and at the age of one, Rima was dropped off with her aunty in the village. This woman’s extreme poverty left Rima uncared for, so when she was old enough she asked an older lady to bring her to Dhaka so she could fend for herself.

rima       She was just 10 years old, and found a job as a live-in domestic helper. There she was repeatedly sexually abused by the master of the house. After a year, she managed to escape from him and made her way back to the village. But her aunty neither accepted her nor believed her story. Coming back to Dhaka, she met a woman who lured her to work at her flat without Rima knowing that it was a brothel. Trapped in the situation, she survived a year of sexual exploitation from different customers. Finally escaping, she drifted to the Mirpah Mazar tomb, a hangout for pimps, to beg. There she met a man who promised to marry her. Instead he sold her to Daulatdia, an enormous brothel complex. Living for more than two years in that den of the sex trade, she suffered not only physical injuries from customers but was left traumatized. Being young and attractive to both young and old customers, she was traded from one brothel to another between the borders of Bangladesh and India. Time passed. She met up with a man who brought her to a village where they got married. No happy ending there — when Rima became pregnant, he left her, with no way to support her baby. She came back to the Mazar again where this time she met an outreach worker for CUP (Children’s Uplift Programme) who explained there was an alternative.  Now this 18-year-old mother of a 10-month-old baby boy is happily participating in the programme,  learning new things and experiencing real love which is the way of transformation.

To find out more about CUP, SIM’s project with women and girls in Bangladesh, click here