Domestic ties that bind and gag

Like many others, Diya and Ravi would appear to be just another migrant couple, looking for work on construction sites in Gujarat. But Diya’s migration was also an abduction.

Two years ago, 16-year-old Diya was a Class 10 student in a school in neighbouring Sajjangarh when she first met Ravi in the market. An older woman from the village had handed over his number on a piece of paper and insisted she see him, saying the young man just wanted to talk to her.

Diya didn’t call him. But, the next week when he came to the market, she spoke briefly to him. “Humko ghumane le jayega bola, Bagidora. Bike pe. (He said we would go for a spin on the bike to Bagidora.) I was told to come out at 2 p.m., an hour earlier, from school,” she recalls. The next day he was waiting outside her school, with a friend.

“We didn’t go to Bagidora (an hour away). We went to the bus stand and he made me get on a bus to Ahmedabad,” she says, 500 kilometres away, in the next state.

A panicked Diya managed to make a phone call to her parents. “My chacha (paternal uncle) came to pick me up in Ahmedabad. But Ravi had already heard the news from his friends back home, so he dragged me to Surat.”

After that, he became paranoid about her speaking to anyone, and the violence started.

Asking for a phone to make a call would invite more violence. Diya remembers a day when, desperate to talk to her family, she was crying and begging for his phone when “he pushed me off the first floor of the site. Luckily, I landed on a heap of rubble, completely bruised all over,” she recalls, showing parts of her back that still hurt.

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