KASHMIR, India—Her baby cradled in her arms, Muskan recalls the winter night when she was duped into traveling more than 2,000 miles to be married to a man 30 years older than her.
“My legs were swollen and hurting because of the beatings and intense cold,” Muskan told VICE World News at her house in Kashmir, a stunning but conflict-ridden mountainous valley administered by India. “I felt miserable. I couldn’t see a way out.”
Five years have passed since she made the harrowing journey from her home in Myanmar. But Muskan can’t forget the horror of being held captive in the middle of the freezing winter, locked in a room without a toilet. The traffickers wouldn’t even let her and the other young trafficked women leave to use the bathroom. Muskan said their male captors beat them when they refused to marry complete strangers, often older men suffering from mental disabilities. Many of the marriages were arranged by families who struggled to find a caretaker for these men, she said.