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“I Have Set Myself Free” – Indian Musician Writes Song Inspired By Story Of Child Trafficking

The evil of child trafficking is one we are all aware of. Time and time again, documentaries and crime shows portray how innocent children are kidnapped or taken to big cities under promises of job opportunities and sold to traffickers. These children are made to forcefully work under despicable conditions, and face sexual exploitation and/or forced labor.

Every year, thousands and thousands of innocent children are sold to and bought by traffickers all over the world, especially in third world countries. This is because of the economic and socio-political conditions in these countries.

The two main factors that increase a child’s vulnerability to child trafficking are poverty and humanitarian crises.

Poverty allows child traffickers to dangle better job opportunities as bait to families and take their kids away from them, and engaging them in forced labor.

According to a UN report, “the report shows that armed conflicts can increase vulnerability to trafficking in different ways as areas with weak rule of law and lack of resources to respond to crime, provide traffickers with a fertile terrain to carry out their operations, preying on those who are desperately in need.”

International organizations like UNICEF and UNODC have launched multiple initiatives to curb this evil, as have national governments and NGOs. Even though these initiatives rescue hundreds of people every year, they barely scratch the surface.

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This is mainly because of the unorganized nature of the work that these children are made to do. If they are made to manufacture products, they are located in excluded areas of small towns and cities. Many times, their traffickers/employers have contacts within the local law enforcement organizations, which allows them to dodge any legal action.

HOW CAN WE BATTLE CHILD TRAFFICKING IN THIS CASE?

In a scenario like this, the everyday individual plays an important role in battling this evil. Right now you might be thinking “well, child trafficking doesn’t happen around me.” The shocking truth is – it does. In small towns, especially those in third world countries, young children can often be seen working in local restaurants, shops, and as domestic help in houses.

The conception of this “distance” between the individual and the problem creates ignorance, which ultimately benefits the trafficker.

Another contributor to this ignorance and action is the (fortunate) lack of familiarity with the trauma that comes with child trafficking. The emotions, feelings, and trauma that people who are victims of child trafficking or their family go through, are ones that (fortunately) not all of us go through. This leads to a lack of empathy, and this lack of empathy disallows people to actively fight against this evil.

However, there is a form of art that allows its consumers to feel emotions and relate to situations they haven’t been in before. This art form is music. There are very few things in the world that can evoke powerful feelings the way that music can. Thus, it has been used by artists to express their trauma, their love, their joy, and whatnot.

However, one artist from India took a different route. Instead of using the power of music to express her own feelings, she used it to allow people to understand someone else’s pain.

WHO IS THIS ARTIST AND WHAT IS HER SONG ABOUT?

Shreya Ugale, a 20-year-old from India, composed a song about female empowerment and battling oppression. Her inspiration for this song came from a story she read in a magazine, but not just any story. She was inspired by the story of Nisha (name changed), a survivor of child trafficking.

WHAT WAS THE STORY THAT INSPIRED SHREYA?

Nisha was one amongst those 68% of people who live in poverty, in a 1.3 billion strong India. Her parents worked as construction laborers and did not have stable jobs during off-seasons. On one such day for the family; with not a single morsel of food since daybreak, a man approached them. Let’s call him Angel.

So, Angel put forth a proposal as follows:

“I am a manager of XYZ factory that makes bangles, and we are looking for girls who could be given this job. I promise a stable monthly wage to the family in return of your girl accompanying me to the city for said job.”

The family’s happiness knew no bounds – and Nisha was sent off with Angel, no questions asked.

When Nisha reached the factory, to her surprise (or horror), the factory was filled with girls of her age (and maybe older) with no bangles or equipment to be seen. Over the coming weeks, she and the girls with her were made to do “odd” jobs. If they declined or tried to escape, they were obviously punished.

child trafficking

Nisha tried to escape a number of times; but was always caught and punished. But she didn’t let that stop her. She tried again, this time with a few other girls. And this time, they escaped – escaped from the factory, from the ‘chains of rage,’ and from the fact that not everyone can be loved/trusted.

She was definitely shaking from all the torture; after all she was barely thirteen. Before going back to her hometown and family, she went to the police. She reported that factory. This young girl reported this man and his factory to the world.

“Angel” was discovered to be a trafficker of some sort who was practicing this sick routine for years.

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The culprit was caught, the girl went back, and she lived happily ever after.

Nisha suffered from an echo of trauma, or what we can simply state as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Although she had come very far from the dreaded factory, her mind still visited it in her nightmares.

She constantly regretted having believed in trust; in love.

But everything was not as bad. After all, her oppressor was punished. After all, she ended up winning the ‘Battle of Love’.

And this is how Shreya’s song, ‘Battle of Love,’ was born.

“Every night inside the brimming sink

there would be tears and tears and not water

Keep it going the way you have,

but I will keep returning to get here

But I know it’s gonna be the same, cause you’d never be there for me

I would be bound by your chains of rage and now that

I have set myself free

The number of times, you pulled me back again

To all the hurt and pain- oh would you even know

It’s the battle of love; and not another game.”

You can listen to ‘Battle of Love’ on Spotify and Soundcloud.

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