Today I will write my story. My name is Asha and this story is based on my life.
I was from a poor family in Rajistan, India. I had two elder brothers and one younger sister. We were a happy family.
When I was six years old, two women followed my mother and I home from the bus stand. They were crying as they explained to my mother that they did not have any children and that they wanted her to give them one of her children. At first my mother sent them away but they returned.
I don’t understand why my mother agreed, if they offered her money or if my mother believed she was offering me a better life, but sometime soon after their second visit, my mother and I traveled with these women to Kolkata by train. It was at the station that my mother left me with these women and from there they took me to live with them in Sonagachi, a red light area in Kolkata. I was told that one of these women was to be my new mother. I remember clinging to my mother’s leg pleading with her not to leave me. But she left.
My new mother accepted me into the family but I was not allowed to go to school and I was forced to work countless hours in the home. I was also physically and emotionally abused.
At ten years old I was rescued during a police raid. Because of my young age, I was not forced into sex slavery although I knew this would be my fate once I reached puberty. I did however suffer psychological trauma from my traffickers.
After my rescue, I was brought to a shelter home where I learned many things including how to protect myself. I was also given a basic education. I am now 24 years old and last year I was given the opportunity to join The Light Space, a professional photography training for survivors of human trafficking and gender based violence. I studied at The Light Space for 9 months and learned both commercial and fine art photography.
I feel photography is very important because now I am able to capture so many memories not only for myself but for others. I feel happy and proud of myself although sometimes I feel sad when I remember my childhood. It is often during those times that I find myself taking photos in black in white to express those feelings.