A teenage girl from Bangladesh has recounted the horrors she endured as a victim of sex trafficking, including being "beaten, abused and locked in a room" and forced to have sex with countless men.
Payal, 16, recently shared with Reuters how she was sold into the sex industry after an "agent" tricked her into thinking a dance tutor's job awaited her in India.
Days after arriving in the country, she was sold to a brothel in the western Indian city of Pune in Maharashtra state. There, she was "beaten, abused and locked in a room" and required to have sex with multiple men every night.
She was rescued nearly a year ago from the brothel, and for several months stayed at a non-profit Rescue Foundation in Pune. Her travel permit was recently issued, and she is expected to return to Bangladesh within two months along with 17 other rescued women.
"My mother cried when I told her I was coming home. I told her I was in a bad shape until a few months ago, but now I am fine," Payal told Reuters. "I am happy I am going home from a shelter and not a brothel."
She added, "I look forward to my favorite meal of fish that my mother cooks. Even if she serves me water, I'll be happy."
Paya is just one of many Bangladeshi girls trafficked to India for the sex industry; according to Reuters, traffickers frequently target poor women and children and promise them good jobs in India but sell them into brothels or domestic servitude.
For the past two years, Mosharaf Hossain, head of the consular section of the Bangladesh High Commission, has worked tirelessly to clear travel permits for a rising number of rescued trafficking victims stranded in India. He told Reuters that since joining the Commission in 2015, he's worked to "speed up the repatriation" of trafficked teens.
So far, he's sent about 438 girls home.
"I found girls and also boys from Bangladesh who were suffering a lot, waiting for long (times) to return home, because of our slow investigation," Hossain said.
"I started working faster and soon more alerts on rescued girls started pouring in. I met girls in Kerala who had been staying at a government shelter for seven years waiting...It is our responsibility to look after our destitute girls and children and ensure they go back home, safe."
A report released this week from New Delhi found a 25% rise in India's human trafficking in 2016. The report states that 20,000 women and children were trafficked in the country last year, showing a rise of nearly 25 per cent as compared to the previous year.
Almost 46 million people are enslaved worldwide - trafficked into brothels, forced into manual labor, victims of debt bondage or even born into servitude - according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index.
According to the DailyMail, internet usage is a key factor in the growth of sex trafficking in rural areas, as sex traffickers use social media and apps, such as WhatsApp, to send job offers to young people looking for employment.
Other times, human traffickers lure village girls into sex slavery with promises of visiting the Taj Mahal, Rishi Kant, of anti-trafficking charity Shakti Vahini, told reporters.
"For many days we were looking for six girls reported missing by their families in West Bengal state and finally managed to trace them to a brothel in Agra's red light district," Kant said.
"With police, we conducted a raid and found the six girls, and nine others. They had been confined there for two months and forced to have sex with customers. They said they had gone with the trafficker as he promised to take them to see the Taj."