The short life and painful death of Baby Falak

This is all six chapters of a story that ran in a serialized form on India Real Time. Through dozens of interviews, court documents, police records, medical records and counseling reports, the Wall Street Journal’s Paul Beckett and Krishna Pokharel reconstruct the sad life and death of Baby Falak

NEW DELHI–The story of Baby Falak is a close-up look at the underbelly of Indian society: prostitution, human trafficking, bride selling, and domestic violence.

It also is the story of a small group of ordinary people – a young mother, a rebellious teenager, a taxi driver, a tire repairman, a lonely graduate — trying to escape the tribulations of their daily lives, and of the people who exploited them, the institutions that failed them, and the people who helped them. 

The events that transpired over 10 months, from mid-2011 to early 2012, moved millions, at least briefly, to unprecedented outrage and introspection, as if India were asking itself: “Are we like this only?”

CHAPTER ONE: Escape from Bihar

There is nothing special about Muzaffarpur. The city’s roads have been pummeled then buried under the weight and dust of pedestrians, bicycles, rickshaws, motorbikes, and SUVs. Its low, brick-and-concrete stores are piled high with the brightly-colored flotsam of modern Indian life — flipflops, candy, tobacco packets, plastic water jugs, tarps. In the center of town, the railway station appears as a bastion of permanence: It has a tower, perhaps 50 feet tall, that is painted light pink. more

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