In India, a 13-years old girl known as Phulmani was sold into slavery, forced to act as a surrogate mother and deliver six children by human traffickers from Jharkhand. Initially, an agent lured Phulmani to Delhi from her village with the promise of a job in the national capital. However, after a year of working domestically, the inhuman treatment began.
She said, “They treated me like a money minting machine. My will never mattered to them, all they wanted was me to deliver babies for them.” Tragically, after her babies were born they were sold and she has no way of contacting them.
Now Phulmani is 31-years-old and returned home last year after human rights activists rescued her from her captors. She decided to file a complaint with the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in India because of the emotional and physical trauma the experience inflicted upon her. According to the Hindustan Times, 10,000 children are trafficked from Jharkhand every year to either work as domestic help or sex workers, but trafficking for forced surrogacy has never been heard of before.
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The CWC in Gumla came across another case of trafficking for surrogacy from Lotwadugdugi village in Palkot block. The girl was trafficked to Delhi when she was just eight years old. Now 29, she returned to Jharkhand last year and alleged that she was forced to deliver at least 10 babies, said Alakh Singh, a member of the CWC.
A police officer said, “It is not a regular pattern, but we have come across a few such cases in the past. It is a major concern if such practices are happening in the state.”
Like Phulmani, some more girls from Gumla and Lohardaga districts of Jharkhand were trafficked for conceiving children, local residents claimed. Some girls were even forced to conceive babies for sale in Jharkhand, they alleged.
Jagatram Mahato, an elderly man from Arahasa village in Lohardaga, said teenagers from his village had been lured to Delhi and some northern states for forced surrogacy.
He said, “Some of them even gave birth to children in the village. Later, the agents came and took the babies.” Additionally, the girls were not paid to have the children.
NGO Shakti Vahini says it has rescued more than 100 girls from Jharkhand in Delhi. Bachapan Bachao Andolan (BBA), the NGO run by Noble Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, says it rescued almost 80,000 children across India, of whom 15% to 20% were from Jharkhand and Bihar.