PROSTITUTION WAS ONE of the topics discussed in the ongoing India
Social Forum. The audience got the chance to hear true stories and meet sex-workers and the NGO’S who are working for their cause.
A brother sold both his sisters because he could not pay his debts. His younger sister was only nine years old. He was not aware of the darkness in which he was pushing his sisters and today he does not know where they are and what happened to them. More than one lakh Nepali girls are working in prostitution houses. They are bought from Kathmandu and sold in Mumbai.
Poverty is not the only cause that forces girls to become prostitutes. An eleven-year-old girl was raped by four men who were 35 years of age and above. To solve the matter, one of them offered to marry her. As a result of trafficking, many girls eventually land up in prostitution houses.
Girls once bought are taken to Delhi
where they are taught how to dress up and apply make up. Television and radio have a huge impact on naïve girls. They too want to wear nice clothes and lead the glamorous lives that the people in television are living. Therefore to fulfil their dreams they are talked into taking up prostitution.
Rema, a child who escaped the life of prostitution, when asked how she feels says, “Mujhe lagta hai mein zinda hoon
” (I feel I am alive). The life of a prostitute is short lived. Once they are diagnosed with diseases, they are thrown out of the brothel. If they have been able to save some money they are able to rent a hut, otherwise they are left to die on roads. Among all the diseases, AIDS is the most common disease. “We tell our customer to use condom but they refuse to do so,” says a sex-worker. Most of the girls are infected with AIDS by the time they are 15 to 20 years. “Bimar to tum ho, hum nahi
” is what a customer would say on insistence of using condom.
“My customer was suffering from herpes, I too have it now,” says a prostitute. “The doctors don’t treat us properly, they don’t give us proper medicines,” she continues.
Laxmi differed from the other sex-workers present. She said, “This is heaven. At least we earn and spend on ourselves, wives have to sleep as well as tolerate domestic violence.”
It is not only the girls who suffer. Even the boys whose mothers or sisters are in this line have to suffer. “When we go out to look for work everyone knows we are from the Red Light area”, says Kalam. “Hume waha bhi dalal ki tarah treat kiya jata hai
” (we are treated like pimps).
“I want girls to get out of this business”, says Didi Amana (social worker). “I want them to stand on their feet and have a better life”.
It is the society that is responsible for turning girls into prostitutes. They are denied their fundamental rights. They are forced to sell their bodies and when they want to give up this work, society does not accept them. “We have to stand and fight together”, says Ramesh, who works with a community where prostitution is extremely prevalent.For more articles on ISF, go to India Social Forum