It was a special day for little Kajol. It was to be her first day at school. She woke up early that morning and set off for school with her mother. When she reached the school, she came to know that the principal had cancelled her admission...
Our Constitution says that every citizen of India
is equal. But the fact is that society discriminates between human beings. A brothel is a separate world
where everything is untouchable for the so-called mainstream society. It not only the sex workers who are hated; their innocent children are also hated by society for some unknown crime. Instead of trying to bring them into the mainstream, the society tends to push them further into the abyss of a forbidden world. It is the family background of these innocent children, which keeps them away from the mainstream.
Education is the primary right of every child. But even to this day, many educational institutions refuse to admit the said children. Some non-government organisations (NGOs) have been fighting to provide justice to this under-privileged section of society. Durbar, the most active non-government organisation (NGO) in the red light district of Kolkata, has taken the initiative to provide education to these children from brothels by enrolling them in school. “We had to face many protests from the school authorities and the parents of other students; we were determined to admit the children into the school,” said Mallika Samaddar, co-ordinator of Durbar’s education section. It is not only a fight against the school authorities but also a fight against the prejudice of the entire society. Even if the school management relents, the parents of other students protest. Most of the time, the kids from brothels are treated badly by teachers and other students. For those little children, it is really difficult to tolerate the hatred of their classmates and teachers. As a result, many children drop out after some time.
“Though I loved studying, still I was not happy at my school. My classmates always avoided me and they used to pass rude comments. It was really tough to stay in that unfriendly environment,” recalls a school dropout, now a sex worker. And she is not alone. Many of the kids dreamt of pursuing education so they could join the mainstream. Many dreams remained just that – dreams, for no fault of these kids.
“I wanted to become a nurse, but after primary school, I didn’t get a chance to study further and I had no other choice but to join my mother’s occupation,” says another sex worker.
But there is another side to the story too. Not every child loses the battle for justice. Many kids have succeeded in making their dream (of pursuing education and bagging a job) come true. Saikat, Puja and Gobinda are amongst those, who inspite of the prejudice, made it to the mainstream. Saikat is now working in a multi-national company and has shifted to another locality with his mother. After completing B Com with flying colours, Shankar decided to join Durbar as an accountant to help the kids from brothels lead a better life. And the list of achievers who have broken the barrier of hatred and ignorance is getting longer day by day. According to Durbar’s survey, the prejudice is subsiding now. The kids from brothels are still unwanted but they are not hated by others. Nowadays, the resistance is a bit muted. Society is surely changing. For the society to become egalitarian, there is a long way to go, though.