HYDERABAD: When 21-year-old Gayatri (name changed) had walked into Medchal’s Sakhi Centre with a complaint of domestic violence, little did the officials writing down her plaint know that they were opening a bigger can of worms.
From allegations of sex trafficking, crimes under POCSO, to illegal adoption of Gayatri’s first child — her complaint was more than just about domestic abuse. As the officials began investigating, it turned out that Gayatri, a native of Odisha, had been possibly sold off at the age of 16-17.
“She told us that she was being beaten up at her home. We assumed it would be a regular case of domestic violence but as she continued telling us her story, the case turned murkier,” said a senior official from Sakhi Centre in Medchal.
“She was 14 when her mother forcibly married her off to her uncle...we think it was probably a case of sex trafficking. A few months in, he began inflicting violence on her instead. Fed up, she fled to a friend’s place and later took up work at a beauty parlour, where she was possibly sold off to the accused, once again,” noted officials.
The survivor had reportedly remained unwed in the cohabitation and blackmailed into staying after the accused threatened to out her objectionable pictures. The girl also alleged that there were other girls in his keep, said the Sakhi officials.
While the police is yet to find other women, as alleged, the accused has admitted to having sold off Gayatri’s first-born. “The baby boy from her first pregnancy was sold to a childless couple for Rs 50,000,” says police.
Officials at Sakhi said that when he tried to sell her second child, she sought help. Meanwhile, 53-year-old pastor-cum-musician, Israel Raj, has been arrested based on Gayatri’s complaints.