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Nepal: A Narrow Escape

In Mumbai, thousands of young girls are forced into the sex trade against their will after being kidnapped or sold by their families. This film documents the work of the Rescue Foundation, which searches out imprisoned girls, and provides a refuge for them after their escape.

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Segment 1

BHAVANI [aged 14]
I took my sister's child to school and dropped him off. I was going back home to do my chores, when a man I didn't know approached me, and took me away with him. He took me to his house and locked me in a room upstairs. Later, he tried to get me to have sex with him. I told him I don't do work like that.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN [Founder, explore]
The explore team visited the Rescue Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping rescue and rehabilitate girls who've been trafficked into Mumbai.
MAHESH RUPARELIA [Program Executive, Rescue Foundation]
There must at least be 25,000 trafficked girls in Mumbai. These girls get trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh, and other states of India, for forced prostitution.
VERANA [aged 16]
I awoke at night to find my father on top of me. My mother was mentally ill. She would try to fight him, but she was always beaten by my father. I ran away to Delhi with a boy I loved. But my father came and found me. He took me by train to Mumbai, and sold me in the red light district for 10,000 rupees [about USD$250].
SIMA [aged 16]
He gave me a tea that hypnotized me. I wasn't unconscious, but I had to do whatever he wanted.
MAHESH RUPARELIA
There are so many ways in which they bring the girls to India. One is they give a lot of money to the father, who cannot return the money, so he takes the daughter. These are very poor people, in the villages. Second way is to lure them to come to Mumbai for better jobs. The family likes it because the family is hard of money. Third is they get married to the girl, bring her to Mumbai, and sell her to the brothels.
TRIVENI BALKRISHNA ACHARYA [President, Rescue Foundation]
There is also the Hindu concept of devadasi that allows the fourth daughter to be given to the temple. Sometimes, in very poor families, the second girl will be taken to a brothel and left there.
MAHESH RUPARELIA
All the girls that we have here, they are brought to Mumbai and sold straight away to the brothels. They are put up in dark rooms. They are beaten, they are starved. All the physical torture happens. At the same time, there is a lot of mental torture. The girls are made to believe that they don't have any recourse to anything in life except working in a brothel. They lose all faith in mankind.
SWILDA DECUNA [Probation Officer]
The brainwashing is very good. They are feeling that "my brothel keeper is my mother. She is giving me good food, good clothes. Whatever she is doing, she is giving me a customer, but they are paying me. So, that is good for me. My need is money. I need money and that brothel keeper is giving me money. That's why she is good." And here we are keeping them. We are giving good thoughts, we are giving good manners, but they do not want that. Their need is money.
TRIVENI BALKRISHNA ACHARYA
The girls are led to believe they will make 50,000 rupees [about USD$1,200]. But unless she gets a tip, she does not in any way benefit. She will be given clothes and makeup, and a little food, and that's it.
MAN 1
The moment we receive a missing persons complaint, we start looking for the girl. In most cases, missing girls end up in brothels.
MAN 2
At present, we are working on three missing girls, but we are always looking for new girls. Even if we rescue 90 percent of the girls, we still have a constant flow of new cases. We are always on cases.
TRIVENI BALKRISHNA ACHARYA
They look for the girls who appear scared and worried.
MAN 1
You can tell by the furtive look on the girl's face, that she is being forced into prostitution.
MAN 2
You can tell by a girl's makeup that she's newly arrived from the village. You can tell by the way they walk, that they are not used to high heels.
TRIVENI BALKRISHNA ACHARYA
They first visit the girl and just sit with her, give her money, but say they don't want anything from her. This is how the girls begin to trust them.
MAN
Then we show identification, and counsel the girls and prepare them to leave.
MAHESH RUPARELIA
When we counsel one girl, when we go to rescue her, we end up rescuing 15 to 18 girls. We can't refuse them. Anybody who wants to be rescued has to be rescued.
SIMA
There was a murder and I saw the murderer. When the police came, I asked to be rescued.
VERANA
I ran from the brothel to the police station. I went at six in the morning.
BHAVANI
When the police used to pass by the brothel, they would put me in a crate to hide me. We waited six months for someone to help us.
WOMAN
I was part of an undercover raid. We knew the names of the girls we were looking for and we were sure they were hidden in this brothel. We were calling the girls' names, but no one answered. Finally, one of the girls cried out to us and we took the crate apart and found them.
MAHESH RUPARELIA
They're very young. They are totally underprivileged. We have to counsel them at every stage of rehabilitation. We even call parents here and counsel the parents also, if need be. Parents are willing to accept in most of the cases. Once they are here, we give them all affection and love. Madam is mummy to all of them. They come here and talk to her, anytime. She gives full preference to the girls.
SIMA
I feel like I'm at home. The staff feels like family.
MAHESH RUPARELIA
We give them full healthcare for whatever is necessary, including operations, abortions, including deliveries. We give them free medicine and free consultation, everything is free here. We give them a lot of training, vocational training in life-sustaining trades. So, once we repatriate them, they can at least do some work, somewhere and sustain themselves. That's very important. We give them legal aid for prosecuting the traffickers and the brothel keepers.
SIGN
Let's prevent trafficking: have a safe life
BHAVANI
I want to catch the man who did this. He has ruined many girls, and I want to help them.
TRIVENI BALKRISHNA ACHARYA
It can take three to five years for the cases to be brought to court. It's hard for them to come back to testify after escaping that life.
SIMA
I feel like I am strong. A lot of other girls were afraid of going to the police. But I went, so I know I am strong.
MAHESH RUPARELIA
We arranged for weddings last month for these girls. We got these boys from Gujarat, we saw their houses, we saw what they were doing, we were satisfied that the boys can sustain themselves and their wives. The family was told about their past, the family did not have any objection, and they were married, happily.
BHAVANI
I am constantly aware of how to be happy. You need to move forward and keep yourself in a happy frame of mind. Hopefully, I'll see my parents again soon. That's all.
TITLE
The Rescue Foundation ww.rescuefoundation.net
TITLE
www.explore.org