By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) - The wife of an evangelical pastor in eastern India has been freed after she was abducted, sold, and locked up in a brothel for nearly a month, Worthy News learned Monday.
The woman, identified only as Sunita, was kidnapped on February 21 in her village in Bihar state, near Nepal, according to Christians involved in the rescue operation.
“Sunita was approached by someone in the village who asked if she would come to pray for someone who had allegedly been ill. She innocently went with the villager, and then all of a sudden disappeared”, explained advocacy group The Voice of the Martyrs (VOMC).
Her husband, “Pastor Ramdrash searched for her but was unsuccessful,” VOMC added in comments to Worthy News. “He approached the police but did not receive any help initially. Later on, [our] in-country ministry partners were able to assist him in filing a police report.”
Police reportedly discovered that Sunita's abductors enabled traffickers to purchase the Christian woman. The traffickers then sold her to a brothel in India’s Rajasthan state some 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) away, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
“Thankfully, through the continued prayers of concerned believers, police were finally able to rescue Sunita about a month [on March 19] after she was initially abducted,” VOMC added.
The suspected captors “have since been arrested,” and Sunita is now staying with her husband and children “in a safe house,” VOMC said.
Full family names and other specific details were not revealed amid security concerns. Local Christians reportedly called it “miraculous” that she was discovered.
Before she was reunited with her family, police took her to a government-run rehabilitation debriefing center, confirmed Emma Dipper, the founding director of the Gender and Religious Freedom group, a VOMC partner. “I have to say that isn’t the most compassionate of places.”
The abduction came after the couple suffered years of persecution in India, a mainly Hindu nation, Christians said. They “have been ministering in a small church since 2001. Over the years, they've endured frequent threats from members of the surrounding community,” VOMC recalled.
Sunita’s case underscored concerns about the “many Christian girls and women” in India and worldwide who “are victims of forced religious conversions and marriages to much older men,” VOMC said. “Even when some of these girls and women are rescued, or manage to escape, they often find themselves in unwelcoming communities where they are victimized again.”
VOMC said it urged supporters to pray for Sunita and her family. While “grateful to be rescued and reunited with her family, this pastor's wife is presently in need of healing after the trauma she experienced.”