We are taught to expect the unexpected when on the field. However, little did we expect what befell us in Araria, Bihar. Since our guide contained sensitive questions and the respondents were 15-19-year-old girls, we requested privacy to conduct our focus group discussions in the local primary school. However, the next day when we returned to the school, we were surrounded by a crowd of agitated villagers who refused to let us continue for fear that we may kidnap their children.
Eventually, after we managed to calm them down, we thoroughly explained the purpose of the study to them. However, the situation had spiraled to such an extent that we had to exit that village and drop it from our sample. It was only later that we found out that the reason for such animosity towards outsiders stemmed from an incident that had occurred a couple of months ago. Apparently, two young girls of the village were taken to Mumbai on the pretext of getting employment. Instead, their organs were harvested and they were sent back to the village on a train.
Lesson learned: We should have entered the village a day prior to our interviews and explained our study to the Pradhan. This would also have helped us gain the confidence of our respondents.
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