January 15, 2011


Times of India

Victim takes up child trafficking cause

MUMBAI: Stolen from home and robbed of a childhood more than 30 years ago, Rani Tong, a victim of child trafficking, launched a battle against human trafficking through her NGO, Tronie Foundation, one that she set up with her husband Tron in 2006.

While Rani was trafficked from south India, Tron was a victim of trafficking in Vietnam. They now live in the US, a country where they were both carted to as children. On Thursday evening, Rani shared her story at a discussion on women,s empowerment at the American Centre, Mumbai.

Rani was born into an impoverished family in a village in Kerala. At seven, a woman in the village approached her mother and promised to look after Rani and provide her with the best education. With the assurance that she would be able to see her daughter every day, her mother agreed to hand over her daughter to the woman, who turned out to be a trafficker. Rani was stolen and taken to Tamil Nadu, a state whose language she did not know. "I was scared and alone. I was tortured, starved and beaten by my master, who wanted me to submit to his will," she says. "My body and mind shut down after the abuse. At the age of eight, I was totally broken," says Rani, who was on the verge of death at the time.

By then, her trafficker had little use for her, and sold her to an international adoption agency, where she was first transported to Canada, and from there to the US.

She credits her adoptive mother for helping her heal from the trauma.

"As a child slave, my captors said I had no voice. And now, so many people want to listen to what I have to say," says Rani, who has even been felicitated by the United Nations for her campaign against human trafficking.

Rani has travelled extensively through India, tracing the source of human trafficking, as well as the route taken to smuggle human beings from one state to the next. She has interviewed several victims of exploitation, who have joined her in her fight against human trafficking.

Over a decade ago, she even traced her roots to the village in Kerala where she once lived. It,s here that she was re-united with her family in 1999.

No comments: