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Sexual abuse to human trafficking: ChildLine 1098 exposes dark underbelly of Kashmir society

Shyla (name changed) 16, faced all her fears when she called 1098 for help.

A resident of Assam, she was trafficked to Kashmir to work as domestic help in rich households. Earlier her mother used to work in Kashmir and she forced her daughter to work here.

“She was sent to a house where she used to pick and drop the children from home to school and do other household chores. She even did not know where she was working.  Somehow she called us for help. She gave us some details about her surroundings. It took us four days to rescue her with the help of Rajbagh police station”, said Hakeem Javeed, Project Coordinator 1098 Childline, Srinagar.


Likewise, sixteen-year-old Hiba (name changed) lived under constant fear after she was sexually abused by a helper at home.  Fearing stigma, she was hesitant to inform the family about the abuse.

“I was sexually abused by the helper at my home for almost one and a half years. I was not so friendly with my family. This thing was so embarrassing that I could not tell my parents. Flashback of abuse always played in my mind and many times I fainted. I was mentally disturbed. I hardly used to talk to anyone. My parents noticed my unusual behavior and took me to a psychiatrist,” said Hiba

It was after counseling that she finally disclosed her trauma.  “When I prodded her, she broke down and narrated her tale of woes. She was in trauma, but after treatment and counseling she improved a lot”, said her doctor.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. From April 2020 to November 2020, the ChildLine Srinagar received 1554 cases. It included 82 needing medical help, 2 seeking shelter, 3 requiring protection against abuse, 69 seeking sponsorship, four missing, 7 requiring emotional support and guidance, 4 child labor, 3 sexual abuse, and 4 physical abuse.

“Understanding and friendly behavior of parents towards their children is very important. There are parents who tell their children to shut the mouth when they hear that they have been sexually harassed  This needs to be changed. In fact, parents should instill confidence among children for speaking up”,  said Dr. Deeba, Senior  Registrar, IMHANS, Srinagar

Hakeem Javeed, Project Coordinator 1098 ChildLine said, human greed has crossed all its limits. “Parents are known to be pillars who support children to live a successful life.  But the irony is that most parents don’t understand this and they themselves force their children to kill their dreams and live a life of slavery”, he said.