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Dhaka Tribune

A journey to troupe from rehabilitation centre

Update : 30 Apr 2013, 06:00 AM

A teenage girl, allegedly sold to a circus party by a security guard of a government rehabilitation centre in Barisal, was rescued Saturday by a passerby while she was fleeing from captivity, the victim and a human rights activist told reporters in Gournadi on Sunday.

Shahidul Islam Jewel, a human rights activist from Agorpur in Babuganj upazila, said some transport workers found the girl walking alone on Saturday night and lured her by offering her a free bus ride to the Bhuterdia stop in Babuganj.

Shamima Begum, another passenger on the bus, suspicious of the men's intentions, took the girl to her home at Jahapur in Agorpur union, and sought help from Jewel.

Jewel brought the girl to Gournadi Press Club yesterday.

The girl, aged 13, claimed that the head security guard at the Training and Rehabilitation Centre for Socially Disadvantage Women and Girls in Barisal, where she had been living since 2010, sold her for Tk20,000 to the owner of  a circus party in Gournadi last November.

Arun Das, owner of the Royal Bengal Circus Party, sexually harassed her and attempted to rape her several times, the victim alleged. She managed to flee from the circus on Saturday morning.

The girl was brought back from Gournadi yesterday, and returned to the rehabilitation centre in Barisal.

When contacted, Asaduzzaman, manager at the rehabilitation centre run by the Department of Social Services in Barisal, said a ten-year old girl was handed over to them by Pirojpur Sadar police on April 17, 2010. The girl was placed at the centre as her guardians could not be traced.

On November 8 last year authorities lodged a general diary with Barisal Kotwali police station, claiming that the girl had fled the centre.

Moreover, officials at the social services department in Barisal said they had formed an inquiry committee and suspended the accused trafficker, chief security guardJasimuddin.

Mahbubul Islam, deputy director of the social services department, said a three-member team debriefed the victim at the rehabilitation centre after her recovery.

“We found evidence about the guard’s involvement with the girl’s disappearance from the centre. We have sent a report about our findings to higher authorities,” Islam said.

 “As per their direction, we are preparing to lodge a departmental case, and have suspended the accused for negligence of duty,” he added.

The deputy director, however, denied permission to Barisal journalists to meet the victim as per relevant regulations, and said she was undergoing physical and psychological treatment.

Meanwhile, Arun Das, the circus owner, refuted the girl’s claims, saying he: “did not know that a person could be purchased.” He also denied that anyone was missing from his troupe.

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