Once trafficked and raped, how girls from Assam are finding solace and empowerment

A graffiti depicting the horror of trafficking seen on a wall in Kokrajhar. Photos: Maitreyee Boruah

It takes at least five hours from Guwahati — where Assam’s capital Dispur is located — to cover a distance of 230 km by road to reach Kokrajhar. Kokrajhar is one of the four districts of Assam’s Bodoland Territorial Region. The other three districts are Baksa, Chirang and Udalgiri.

The tiredness of the travel soon departs unwittingly as one soaks in the greenery and quietness of Kokrajhar city, the headquarters of the district. The greenery and ever-smiling faces greeting even strangers were always omnipresent, but peace and prosperity — after decades of militancy — is a welcome change for Kokrajhar, say the residents.

After another 20 minutes in a vehicle, one reaches Anthaigwlao village, where The Federal met a group of school and college-going girls nurturing their kitchen garden. In the vegetable garden grows onions, potatoes, cabbage and mustard greens, to name a few. The girls are inhabitants of a shelter home run by Nedan Foundation, an NGO, for the poor and vulnerable children who are victims of trafficking, child marriage and child labour. At present, there are 35 girls in the shelter home, the youngest of them is six years old.

The girls of Nedan Foundation's shelter home during their group study.
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