‘I was raped more than 20 times in three days, they even could have killed me, today I am back to my country alive, I feel like it is my rebirth’ it is the remark of Shefali Begum (not her real name) who was taken to Malaysia promising better job opportunity there. She was working in Pearless Garments Factory near Mirpur Bangla College since January 2016. There she met with a man named Mofizur Rahman Raja, who provoked her to leave her job. He convinced her that he can manage a better job for her in hospitals of Malaysia. Mofizur Rahman Raja along with another man Topu insisted Shefali and her family to opt for a medical visa and hospital attendant job in Malaysia.
They told Shefali might get 50,000 per month there in Malaysia. They asked Shefali to provide 1, 50,000 taka for obtaining visa for her visit to Malaysia. They informed her that the costing was more since it was a medical visa. Though Shefali’s mother was initially reluctant to send her only daughter to a foreign country but compromised her maternal emotions hoping a better future ahead for both Shefali and the family as whole. None of them had any idea of the cruel experience Shefali was about to go through to fulfill the hope and dream of a dignified life. As Shefali enumerates her story like,
‘We gave 10,000 that day and no money receipt was served. As we demanded the receipt they told that they don’t break their promise and always try to help people in need. They asked me to rely upon them and said that it will change my life in good terms. We believed them and gave 1, 50,000 taka within few months. They told us to get my passport ready. In passport office, Raja identified himself as my husband, I objected but he told me that this is necessary to get visa. I believed them as good men with huge business and great mind to help others.
On 18 January 2017 at 12.25 am, we started for Malaysia in Air Asia Flight. Both Raja and Topu was accompanying me. In the Airport Police asked me that where am I heading to. I replied them that I was going to Malaysia with my Husband. Then police asked Raja about my home address, he could not answer properly, I helped him. Police also asked me about Raja’s address and I told accurately. So, police allowed us to go. We were together in individual seats in the flight. Topu was also in the same flight. In Malaysian Airport as well police asked me but I couldn’t say anything. Raja said we were there on tour.
From Malaysian Airport we went to a hotel that took one and an half hour to reach by bus. In the hotel we identified ourselves as husband and wife. On the following day, 20 January 2017, a girl named Bristi came to the hotel and took me to her home. Topu, Raja and another Bangladeshi man named Anwar also went with us. Reaching there I met Apu, another Bnagladeshi man. They raped me one after another soon after reaching there. Previously, Raja also raped me in the hotel room more than once.
They took me one place to another place where many new people including them raped me for several times. The gang also took money from others for that. I tried to resist them but they tortured me ruthlessly.
On 22 January 2017, when we were in Simunia, my physical condition started to worsen with heavy bleeding, so they took me to hospital. They tried to inject me and I resisted. Then hospital people asked Apu about our relationship. Apu introduced him as my husband, but I screamed saying ‘NO’. With that both Apu and Bristi ran away from the hospital. Coming out of the hospital, I went to a nearby garage. I started to cry before a Pakistani man there but he could not understand me. Then, he called a Bangladeshi man, who was passing through the road. I told the person to save me. The agents have brought me here and they will kill me. The Bengali brother made the Pakistani person understand the situation. In the meanwhile, Apu and Bristi showed up there and claimed I am insane, and ran away from home. They also said Apu is my husband. I said ‘no, no, help’. The Pakistani person said something to them I didn’t understand but both of them ran away in a car.
Then a person named Harun came and took me to a shelter home. He gave me dinner and treated me too well. I did not know him before but I felt like I got my brother beside me. I asked him how he knew about me! Then Harun Bhai said some friends from Bangladesh informed him about me. Later on, I came to know it was Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) who took immediate action after getting informed from my mother and husband about me. ASK requested Harun Bhai who was representative of ‘Tanaganita’ a human rights organization in Malaysia. I was in shelter home till 29 January. They arranged all medical help there for me. And on 30 January I returned to Bangladesh by Bangladesh Airlines’.
Shefali could manage a chance to a new life with the help of ASK and Tanaganita, the organizations which are devoted uphold the human rights. But, there are many more such cases that remain unaddressed in lack of proper information. Appropriate state initiative is a must to bring an end to deadly experiences of girls like Shefali in search of a better life.