Sarkar was married at the age of 12. She narrowly escaped from getting 'sold' by her in-laws. Nothing could deter this indomitable woman's fight against human trafficking. Finally, she has now won international recognition.

"I'm happy my efforts have now got international recognition. I am happier still to see the smiling face of parents who have got back their trafficked daughters," says Sarkar.

Sarkar, who grew amid constant fear of trafficking, began her crusade almost a decade ago, joining some NGOs in North 24 Parganas district.

A mother of two, Sarkar started her fight by collecting data about missing girls from in and around her village, Sayestanagar. She discovered a startling fact that more than 5,000 minor girls had been missing in the area and yet hardly any police complaint was filed.

"Police would refuse to register missing complaints saying that the girls have willingly gone out for work. It was difficult, but we continued our fight. As more women joined the fight, police had to relent," said Sarkar, whose efforts have now brought down trafficking cases.

It has not been an easy path for the woman who now lives with her two daughters and works as an artisan. She left her husband a few years back after he and her in-laws almost sold her off when she failed to bring dowry.

"The lure of a job for their daughters is too tempting an offer for the poverty-stricken population here. Moreover, the traffickers are often too powerful and it is very difficult to fight them," says Sarkar, who has been attacked several times.

While her efforts have forced the administration to act, nabbing traffickers and rescuing the trafficked girls in the district, her battle post-rescue is no less challenging.

"While some rescued girls are living a new life, have got married and have families, others had no option but to return to the flesh trade as their families refused to accept a girl who was a sex worker," said Sarkar.


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