Darjeeling: A woman here has overcome threats to her life to save victims of flesh trade from across the country and has been awarded for her efforts.
Rangu Souriya, a resident of Panighatta in Darjeeling hills, saved 500-odd trafficked girls, mostly aged below 18, in cities like Patna, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and some other regions.
The women were either sold to brothels in the cities or made to work as pimps and touts for clients.
Associated with a Siliguri-based NGO “Kanchanjunga Uddhar Kendra”, Rangu first undertook the initiative to rescue trafficked girls and women in 2004.
Her determination to rescue women from the trap of flesh trade and bravery encouraged parents of many victims to appeal to her to save their wards.
Rangu says that she was studying at the Darjeeling Government College when she was moved by the plight of these exploited women and made it her mission to rescue them and look after them.
The activist said that there were times when she had to spend money from her own pocket and even had to sell cows to back her efforts.
Rangu said that almost all the rescued women hailed from Sikkim, north Bengal, Nepal and Assam.
She said, “I was threatened by goons and mafia on several occasions and even lured with handsome sums of money, but my aim and vision is to free women from their bondage.”
Her bravery and good work have earned her the Godfrey Phillips Social Bravery Award and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s Women Achievers’ Award – 2009.
She has also been honoured by more than 20 regional organisations for her services.