Fetisov Journalism Awards 2021

Category: Contribution to Civil Rights

Third Prize

Title: The Testimony

Author: Monica Jha (India)

Monica Jha is an independent journalist based in Bangalore, India.

She is the winner of the 2020 Stop Slavery Media Award and nominated (TBA) for the True Story Award 2020/21. She is a finalist for the Society of Publishers in Asia 2020 Awards, Red Ink Awards 2017, and Lorenzo Natali Media Prize 2015.

She is also a grantee of Pulitzer Center (2021), Oxpecker’s wildlife crime grant (2021) and Impact Journalism Grant (2019).

Her works have appeared in Daily Beast, Rest of World, Coda Story, London Evening Standard, South China Morning Post, FiftyTwo, Fountain Ink, Factor Daily, and Scroll.

The Testimony

The original publication is available via the following link: https://fiftytwo.in/story/the-testimony/

Fifty Two - May 28, 2021

Hundreds of children from Bihar's Gaya district had been trafficked to Jaipur's bangle workshops. Then, a group of boys escaped against all odds.


The two boys don’t quite agree on how it began. Ashish says that he and some other boys stole Rahul’s bread while he was in the bathroom. Rahul says it was all part of a plan. They agree on the main thing: on the morning of 20 February 2016, Rahul stepped out of the makeshift bangle factory in Jaipur, with a ready excuse. If Sonu, their trafficker, asked, he was going to say he was hungry, and plead to be allowed to go out to buy bread: hard, sweet gol paape buns, to be precise.

He and some other boys had been trafficked there from their homes in Bihar by a man named Sonu. Sonu made the boys work until midnight every day. Breakfast was two pieces of paape with chai. Their only other meals were what they could scramble together with a meagre supply of potatoes and rice, and some takeaway food that Sonu brought at the end of the day. The boys typically had dinner only after midnight.

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