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Aruna’s Story

Dawn Schuster

Posted on May 10 2018

Aruna’s Story

It is thanks to Aruna that I found the amazing organisation that I am working with Purnata. I found out about her story by complete chance and amazing luck! Read about it here.

me and anu
Aruna is obsessed with putting me in a saree!

Aruna is 27 and the mother of four children. She was born in a very poor village in rural Karnataka, a state in Southern India and is the eldest of four. When Aruna was very young, her parents left her and her siblings to live with her uncle whilst they went to earn a living in Mumbai. The children never knew what their parents did but they would come back and visit once a year with sweets and gifts, and send money to ensure that the children were taken care of. Aruna was sexually abused as she was growing up by her uncle. When she reached out to her mother for help, she was not believed and told that she was an attention seeker. 

Aruna grew up as a total introvert and was forced to do all of the housework by her aunts. She was not allowed to go to school but she dreamed of studying. Around the age of twelve, and as her claims of the abuse got worse, her uncle arranged her to marry  a man around ten years older than her. She got married when she was thirteen and only met her husband on the day of marriage. She raised her family in the village whilst her husband worked as a laborer but she still had dreams of an education and doing something more with her life.

hampi village
Aruna came from a village very much like this one that I visited in Hampi, Karnataka.

One day Aruna got word from Mumbai that her father had vanished and left her mother. She thought that this was the right time for her to finally go to Mumbai and try and make a better life for her and her family, so she left with her husband. On arriving in Mumbai she realised that her mother was a brothel keeper. Her mother had worked as a cleaner in many houses, some which were brothels. After some time she had learned the trade and gained power and become a pimp herself. We do not know if she had been a prostitute before this, as by the time Purnata came into contact with them she was a fully fledged pimp, torturing girls and managing the finances of the brothel. Aruna discovered what was going on when she arrived in Mumbai but her mother rented her a room under her husband’s name in Sonapur (red light area) where they would live with their children. 

Whilst this was going on, Aruna fell in love with a Muslim man from the neighborhood. This was the first time in her life that she had felt cherished and loved. She tells us now that he asked her opinions and treated her as a human and not as his property. They started a secret affair which her husband and mother soon found out about. They beat her badly and during this time her husband had started heavily drinking. He came home every night and beat her and her children. The last straw for Aruna was when her husband badly beat her baby son, and she left him. When she went to her mother for help she threw her onto the streets. Purnata found her and her children standing in the monsoon rain at night and rescued them. 

As for the man that she was having the affair with, she got news that there had been a fire at the factory where he worked. His whole right hand was burnt and he had to have it amputated. No longer needed at the factory, he had to return to his village and he broke off their relationship. 

Meanwhile Aruna’s mother had been arrested for sex trafficking and the torture of girls. This is very rare in the brothels, as usually the police are simply bribed, but in this case justice was actually done.

sewing anu
Aruna working on a sample for Rags Tribe

Now Aruna has forgiven her mother and hopes to look after her as she grows old. I find this unbelievable as this is the same woman that caused her so much suffering. Aruna is now working for Rags Tribe as a seamstress after being trained by Purnata. I am very proud to have her making clothes for Rags Tribe and I absolutely love her and I have adored being around her smiling, warm energy. I also am enjoying her Whatsapp voice notes in Hindi as she seems to think that I understand! I hope that by employing her I can help her to rent her own apartment and get her children back from the orphanage which they were put into.

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