A social activist’s struggle to save women


Kolkata: She may not be able to bring back 12 women from the clutches of traffickers operating in Gulf countries but her fight against bonded labour and forced flesh trade continues. Meet social activist Rangu Souriya who has till date recovered 500 women from the horrors of brothels and bondage labour.

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Souriya, 32, who also runs NGO Kanchanjunga Uddhar Kendra since 2004 has been trying to protect the poor girls and women of Sikkim and North Bengal from the clasp of the traffickers operating between the Gulf and Southeast Asia.

“Due to poverty in the tea gardens, a lot of traffickers lure women and girls with assurances of jobs. Then they sell them as bonded labourers to other states or for flesh trade in Arab countries,” Souriya told reporters here Wednesday.

Souriya hails from Darjeeling and still remembers how poor girls and women of the area used to go missing all of a sudden during her college days in the late 90s. “I decided to fight for the cause,” she said.

She reminisced how she saved a 13-year-old girl in New Delhi who was working there as bonded household labour.

“In 2005 I saved a girl child who hailed from Darjeeling. She was lured by the promise of a job in New Delhi and better lifestyle. She was hauled up in a house in New Delhi where she was treated worse than an animal,” she said.

The activist, along with the help of local police, rescued the girl from the residence and handed her over to her parents.

Souriya Wednesday received the Godfery Phillips Bravery Award 2011 under the category of ‘Special Social Bravery Award’.

“Since 2004 I have rescued 500 women and girls who were either sold as bondage labours or for flesh trade in different parts of India and foreign countries. But officially it is 300 girls in police records,” she said.

The activist, with the help of NGOs situated in Saudi Arabia, also brought back five trafficked teenaged girls back to India in February.

When asked what inspires her, Souriya said: “It is a wonderful experience when girls go back to the arms of their parents and lead a decent life.”

She also regretted not being able to save a group of 12 girls who were trafficked to Saudi Arabia this year.

“I tried my best but couldn’t bring back those girls back to the country as those girls were sent to Saudi Arabia on fake passports,” said Souriya, who has also helped put 10 traffickers behind bars since 2004.