How’s Jaya doing?
The journey of rehabilitation of a person who has been trafficked and abused is a long and extremely courageous one. Find out how Jaya, who was rescued in February 2011, is doing.
MUMBAI, 15TH MARCH 2012: When we first met Jaya, she was a thin sickly girl, covered in bruises from repeated abuse by her husband. Her face was a mask of garish make-up and she carried a frail six-week-old child who was skin and bone.
Even though social workers spoke to her about the options for care and protection that were open to her, Jaya was not interested. Her mother and aunts are all in prostitution and Jaya herself had been introduced into prostitution by a woman who rented out young girls, when she was just 12 years old. It was the only life she had known. Care-givers at the shelter home told our team that Jaya was so young that she did not know how to look after her infant son.
Jaya’s husband had been one of her customers. She says that they were married, but there were no witnesses and because she was only 14 at the time, according to law, she is not married. For two years after that, her husband lived off whatever she made in the brothels, beating her when he drank and even making her work through her pregnancy.
But after her rescue, Jaya still wanted to go back to him. For her, he represented some form of security in her erratic life. At the shelter home, Jaya would spend hours alone away from everyone else, her face expressionless. When counsellors tried to speak to her, all she would say was that she wanted to go back to her husband.
After a while, care-givers at the shelter home felt that it would be best for the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) , a government authority that deals with matters concerning children in need of care and protection, to release Jaya into the care of her parents because she only wanted to go back to her family . But our aftercare team did not want to give up. Her mother still works in prostitution in a slum and they knew that if Jaya left the care of the home, she would follow suit.
When Jaya tested positive for HIV, they became more convinced than ever that she and her son needed special care. They appealed to the CWC that Jaya was a minor and needed the state’s protection. The CWC decided that Jaya would remain in care till she turned 18.
But the most important change came from Jaya herself. She began to talk to counsellors about her options and health care professionals began to monitor her diet and health. The girl who had never been to school is now learning to read and write and attends literacy classes at the shelter.
A recent test showed that Jaya’s C4 count, that measures how well the immune system is working, is high. And the social workers celebrated with the young mother when another test revealed the exciting news; Jaya’s son Aman tested negative for HIV.
How difficult must it be for a young, single mother to break away from her family and the only life she has ever known? The challenges that lie before her are daunting. We will be with her and we hope that she will make a decision that will give herself and her baby a better future.