As a sixteen year old from the relatively quiet city of Saadiqabad, X was excited at the prospect of visiting her sister’s house in Karachi. She wondered what life in the “big city” would be like and painstakingly planned out her vacation. Little did she know that the visit would leave her traumatised for the rest of her life.
Her sister, who lived at flat number 209 in Munir Arcade of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, sold her to a pimp in Hyderabad for Rs250,000. “She told me I am sending you to a house in Hyderabad as a domestic servant. That I’ll have to cook and clean.” However, it was a completely different picture when she got there.
“There were a lot of girls there. Five prostitutes and two daughters of the pimp,” she recalls. Once the nature of her work was revealed to her, X refused. For 15 days, no one forced her against her wishes. “They were kind to me and I only had to cook and clean. They thought their kindness will make me succumb to their wishes.”
But when love did not work, the torture began. The young girl shows burn marks on her hands, cigarette butt burns on her neck and wrists as well as marks of a rope around her neck, which was used to strangle her. There are bruises and scars on her back as well. “They would beat me with anything they had. Thick wooden planks were the most common.”
Then one day she was drugged and when she woke up, there was blood on her clothes and her body hurt. X realised she had been raped.
Things went on like this. She was given sleeping pills and alcohol to make her lose her senses and one client after another came to her. “Once I begged a man to leave me alone. I cried in front of him and God knows why he left me alone,” X shares as she breaks into tears.
With time, the girl grew rebellious and once tried jumping off the third floor to escape. She would shout and throw tantrums and then one lucky day, X escaped. She ran to the nearest bus stop where she met two middle aged women, Saima and Shahnaz, both sisters.
“I begged them to take me home to Sadiqabad. They agreed, but brought me to Karachi.” X was put up in a hotel room in Saddar, where she stayed for three days. “The women kept telling me they were here for some work, after which they would take me home, but I overheard them talking on the phone about selling me off to a pimp in Quetta, for Rs150,000.”
The women would lock the room when they left her alone and told the waiter that it was a safety measure as “our girl sleepwalks.” One day, X called out to the waiter and said she had been kidnapped. The waiter contacted the police and the law enforcers raided the hotel, arresting the two suspected women.
An FIR 19/2011 was registered under section 371/511 and 544 at the Saddar police station after which investigations got under way.
Shahnaz, one of the two women, also sent two of her daughters to the pimp in Hyderabad willingly. She received Rs250,000 for one girl in advance for a period of forty days. An additional sum of Rs200 per night is given to the woman. Each night costs Rs,3000.
Saima, the other women, admits she was asked to sell X to a pimp in Quetta, “since she was particularly troublesome due to her frequent tantrums”.
The SHO of the women’s police station, Ghazala, reveals that cases of human trafficking are on the rise due to abject poverty. She suspects this particular case involves a countrywide mafia, which forces children into prostitution.
On December 9, the court will summon X, where article 164 will be put to action. “After this we will be able to catch the culprits from all over Pakistan. Right now, only this case of abduction comes in our jurisdiction,” the SHO says.
The Society for the Protection of Child Rights (Spaarc) is taking care of the litigation expenses. If found guilty, the accused women would be sentenced to twenty five years in prison, which is non-bailable and no penalty can be paid for it.
Finally relaxed now that she is in safe hands, X looks forward to meeting her family who thought she was working as a house maid in Hyderabad. “I will finish my studies now and become a policewoman”.
“I hope these women rot in jail, so that they cannot ruin the lives of other young girls like me,” she says. “May you all rot forever,” she calls out to Saima and Shahnaz, who are sitting in one corner of the room.