In a revealing interview, a young woman from Uzbekistan exposed a harrowing tale of human trafficking and exploitation in Delhi. The victim shared that she had come to India in January 2020, lured by promises of caring for a pregnant couple, Aziza and Sher.
However, upon arrival, she was coerced into prostitution, and her passport was confiscated.
Despite her repeated pleas, she was put through torture under the threat of violence and disfigurement.
After a one-year chase, the duo was arrested by the Delhi Police this year on October 6 when their racket was busted. “The Delhi’s Anti Human Trafficking Unit busted the racket and found that foreign women were brought to India on the pretext of giving good jobs and forced into prostitution. We worked on it for a month and laid a trap through a decoy customer,” said DCP Vichitra Veer.
Last year in July, a team of the Delhi AHTU had arrested five people and rescued 10 foreign women in a similar case of trafficking and prostitution.
EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW:
Where are you from and how did you reach Delhi?
I am from Uzbekistan. Over the internet, on Telegram, I spoke to Aziza Sher. She spoke to me, I even video-called her once. Aziza had told me that she was pregnant in India, and that she was alone, with no one to care for her here. So, she asked me to come to India to care for her and her child. She promised that she’ll send money to my home and give me money for all my needs. I trusted her and came to India on January 29, 2020.
Did you come alone? What did you tell people at home?
I came alone. I told people at home that I am going to India to take care of a child.
Do you have a passport?
No, not now. I had my passport till I reached Delhi. Aziza took my passport after I arrived here. First, I landed at the Delhi airport. There a lady came to meet me, her nickname was Roza and real name was Narjaan Sharjai. She took me to her home in Delhi, in Harinagar Ashram. There I met Aziza, and saw her at home. There were 4-5 other girls at her house. I spoke to her. They asked me to rest. I rested for 2-3 days. I was given food. After that Roza (Narjaan) took me shopping. I was told that Aziza was giving me a gift. I was taken to Lajpat Nagar and they bought me skimpy clothes. I said ‘why this dress, I don’t want this kind of dress’. I was told that it was a gift from them. I protested saying that I do not want this gift. I was told not to worry and that Aziza would explain everything at home. I reached home. Aziza spoke to me, and took my passport away to write my name, for police verification reasons. I asked why these short clothes were being bought for me. She said it is a gift and also told me that I had not come to India to look after a child but to do this work (prostitution). My passport was taken away. After that, Roza, her manager, slapped me. She threatened me saying, ‘if you don’t listen to us, then your condition will be very bad’. She threatened me with the police. She threatened to disfigure my face, do many things. She scared me a lot.
Are you the girl being beaten brutally in the video that went viral?
Why were you being beaten?
I had spent one year here and wanted to return to my country. I told them to give me my passport. They refused to hand me my passport. Aziza said that she will accompany me to my home in Uzbekistan if I get the passport.
I was forced into prostitution. I had refused. I said I would not do this since it is a wrong act. After that I was beaten and threatened and she said, ‘if you don’t do this, I will maim your face. You have not come to India to look after children, you have come for this work’. They had beaten me three-four times before the video. I was told to stay silent and do what she wanted.
So, you were forced into doing those acts?
Yes. She told me that she has spent 10 years in India and threatened me to stay mum or as she has the full force of police and lawyers. “I will get you imprisoned,” she told me.
You have been to Delhi, where have you all been taken?
I was once ill and had a problem in the lower part of the body and had to be operated upon. I was sent for the operation. After the operation, the husband (Sherget Afghan, alias Sher) and wife (Aziza Tanrykulyyeva) came to see me. I was sick for a month after the operation before leaving for home.
While leaving for home, they complained while talking to each other how I had not worked for a month. They pushed me into doing the work [again]. Aziza then used scissors, the kind nurses use, and forcibly removed the stitches.
I shut my mouth and put up with pain. They did this because I was sitting at home, not doing any work for a month.
Where is Aziza from?
Did she bring other girls like you to Delhi?
Yes. They were lied to and brought here. I was scared. I couldn’t protest when I saw it. The other girls were shown my video as a warning. I was never allowed to meet other girls for fear that I would change their mind. There were 3-4 young girls kept in the house where I was kept.
Did you contact the police for that?
No. Aziza Sher was arrested on October 6.
Will you speak against her in the court?
I will tell the judge what all wrong she had done to me. Aziza would speak to brokers on the phone, and send me to different places. She forced me to work as a prostitute. Were you sent out of Delhi too?
I tried my best to run away from Hyderabad. These people had informers there too, they caught me. She would speak to brokers and send me [to clients] by flight, train or even bus.
How did you escape?
After the video went viral, Aziza herself ran away. I relaxed a bit after that. I went to live with a friend. I had an operation. I am undergoing treatment.
Where would the money go?
It would go through the broker, straight into Aziza’s account. I didn’t get anything.
Could you tell us about their network? Where’d she go and who she’d meet?
The husband-wife always would go outside together. They had contacts with big lawyers and advocates. I couldn’t do anything, I was scared.
When you first heard of it after coming to Delhi, what was your feeling?
I cried a lot and asked them to send me home. I wouldn’t be able to do things like that. If they ever said anything, they would beat me up and I was very scared. This was the first time in my life I came to India. I learnt Hindi. I didn’t know English, faced problems, people lied to me, used me and scared me. I would gather courage and pick Hindi language from here and there. I learnt the language because I wanted to live.
(This story was first published on Newslaundry on November 28,2023)