Skip to comments.Meet the Girls Who Are Born to Be Prostitutes
Posted on 10/13/2013 3:17:17 PM PDT by nickcarraway
In some poor Indian villages, girls are trained from birth for a life of sexual servitude in order to feed their families.
Like many Indian girls, Suchitra was taught her future profession by her mother. In her village, there was only one path. Even before shed reached puberty, Suchitra had learned different sexual positions and other ways to please a customer.
At age 14, a man she had never seen before showed up one day at the familys house near Bharatpur in northern India. At her mothers urging, Suchitra got into his car. Six hours later they reached their destination. It was a brothel in New Delhis red-light district. She had been sent into sexual servitude.
I always knew that this would be my life, says Suchitra, sitting in her wardrobe-sized room and wearing a low-cut green top and jeans, her hair pulled back in a tight bun. I can never forget what Ive done but it is the only way for my family to earn a living.
Suchitra, now 20, is from one of hundreds of villages in India where centuries-old tradition dictates that most girls enter into a life of prostitution. Rising wealth hasnt reduced the trafficking of girls for sex in the worlds second-most populous nation: the number of child prostitutes is growing and the average recruitment age has dropped to between 9 and 12 years old, according to the Delhi-based National Human Rights Commission.
We are witnessing an unprecedented growth in prostitution, says K.K. Mukherjee, a sociologist who has studied sex workers for more than three decades and has written government reports on the subject. It is being driven by rising levels of income but also by a change in sexual attitudes and the increasing migration of women to cities.
Districts such as Bharatpur, where half of the women are illiterate, are breeding grounds for the countrys $4-billion sex trafficking industry. India has 3 million sex workers, of whom 1.2 million are below the age of 18, according to a government estimate. The South Asian nation traffics more women for sex than any other country.
I always knew that this would be my life. I can never forget what Ive done but it is the only way for my family to earn a living.
The growth of underage prostitution in a country where the gross domestic product has risen on average about 8 per cent annually in the past decade is testimony to the treatment of women and the power of caste in the worlds biggest democracy. India, which carries out almost 40 per cent of the worlds female sterilizations, where a woman is raped on average every 21 minutes and where a third of all women are illiterate, is failing to change views that undercut the status of women.
Whole families from some castes at the bottom rungs of Indias social hierarchy rely on income from their daughters sex work, with fathers and brothers often acting as pimps. The girls often have their virginity auctioned to the highest bidder once they reach puberty.
Suchitra, who is of the Bedia caste, shows how the caste-based system determines access to occupations and social status. Rooted in religion, the millennia-old structure marginalizes certain groups, imprisoning women in a cycle of isolation and abuse. Many female members of the Bedia community, which numbers about 20,000, say they are treated like outcasts. They cant marry if they have worked as a prostitute, are refused service in shops, are called whores and are greeted with disinterest by police when one of them is raped.
Caste remains a defining feature for most Indians, says Satish Misra, a political analyst at the Observer Research Foundation, a policy group based in New Delhi. These attitudes bring an enormous cost in terms of a lack of social mobility and lost economic opportunities.
A single bare bulb exudes dim light in Suchitras room, just enough to see the black water stains on the peeling, faded pastel-green walls. Used condoms lie on the floor. The stench of urine, sweat and cheap perfume hangs in the air. Rats gnaw at piles of garbage in the corridors outside.
Suchitra, who would only give her first name for fear of arrest by the police, says she has sex with as many as a dozen men a day for as little as 100 rupees ($1.65) a time. A concrete slab that takes up most of her room serves as a bed, where she sleeps and does her work. Customers have threatened her with knives, guns and beer bottles, she says.
Government officials and activists working to break the born-into-prostitution custom say that high levels of illiteracy and caste-based prejudice make it difficult for the women to earn a living any other way. It is going to be very difficult to stop, says Niraj Pawan, the top government official in Bharatpur, who is struggling to curb the practice among the Bedia community. How do you convince these illiterate girls, with no skills, facing enormous family pressure to be a prostitute, to take a job where they will earn a 10th of their current pay?
Bedia women say they can earn between 1,000 and 2,000 rupees a day working as prostitutes. That compares with the average daily income in India of 188 rupees.
Many of the girls who are raised as prostitutes are injected with the hormone oxytocin to make their breasts grow faster, Pawan says. Unlike in the rest of India, where there is a traditional preference for boys that has led to a skewed sex ratio, Pawan says the Bedia community prefers girl babies because they are a potential source of income.
To bolster their income, the Bedia, Nat and Kanjar communities are involved in trafficking rings that kidnap children from other communities, who are then raised in their villages, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Some of the girls are sent to Mumbai and Middle Eastern countries to work in dance bars and escort services, the report says.
Sex trafficking rings prey on the poor and illiterate among Indias almost 600 million female population. The traffickers often operate with impunity due to poor police enforcement, compliant officials and ingrained traditions of caste, says Siddharth Kara, a fellow with the Carr Center Program on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at Harvard University.
Its easy for them
The town of Bharatpur, located about 160 kilometres south of Delhi and the place where Suchitra was schooled in prostitution, is one of the main homes of the Bedia. The community has also spread out into the surrounding villages, located among rolling green fields.
At first glance Panchi Ka Nagla looks like many other villages in rural India, with its mud-brick homes, tea stalls and foraging goats. The women and teenage girls wearing bright purple lipstick and revealing tops suggest something different.
They loiter by the road running past the village, waiting for customers. Once the price has been negotiated, they head off to one of the houses or into the bushes with the customer. Children playing nearby watch the scene play out over and over. The village men lounge on cots on thatch porches, prodding their daughters and sisters to hook more customers.
Of course it makes us sad that we have to force our women into this line of work, but how else can we earn this sort of money? says Pratap, 30, who uses a single name and lives off the earnings of his sister, Manju, who was soliciting customers nearby. It is easy for them. They dont have to work hard for it.
Manjus virginity was auctioned for 25,000 rupees 11 years ago to a hotel manager from the northern city of Agra shortly after she had her first period at age 13. A ceremony called nathni utarna, which literally means taking off the nose ring, was held to signify that she was ready to enter the sex trade.
Keeping the money from the auction sale is considered inauspicious, so a lavish party was held. Guests from nearby Bedia villages were invited and Manju was adorned with new jewelry and clothes, she says. The festivities culminated in a feast at which alcohol was served and a goat was slaughtered.
The first time I was so scared, I cried a lot, says Manju, spitting a mouthful of paan, a betel leaf concoction, onto the floor of her mud shack. A small woman with dark eyes exaggerated by the use of thick mascara, Manju says she has sex with about six men a day and doesnt know who the fathers of her three children are.
Stiffer financial penalties for running a brothel and successfully prosecuting sex traffickers would reduce the number of women drawn into prostitution, says Harvards Kara. The current penalty for operating a brothel is between one and three years in jail and a fine of as much as 2,000 rupees.
Even if all the owners of brothels in which sex slaves were exploited were convicted each and every year, sex trafficking would still be a high-profit, minimal-risk venture, Kara says.
Like Suchitra, other Bedia girls also end up working on Garstin Bastion Road, the red-light district in New Delhi. The area, just minutes from the citys main train station, is home to shops selling water pumps, paint, tiles and toilet seats, as well as 92 brothels and about 4,000 prostitutes, according to data cited in the UN report. Hundreds of women stand on balconies overlooking the road, beckoning to passersby to come inside. Customers walk through dark stairwells to reach the brothels. Signs on the walls carry a warning: Beware of the pickpockets and pimps.
The entrance to the brothel where Suchitra works opens onto a room with wooden benches, where the women sit talking and brushing their hair in between soliciting customers. Men fasten their trousers as they emerge from adjoining chambers.
Suchitra, who was talking about the dangers of her job, suddenly breaks off the interview to join a group of her colleagues trying to solicit a customer who has entered the brothel. She is too late and the man heads off with another woman.
This is my life, I can never do anything else, she says. I just pray that one day other girls like me will be able to do something different.
I used to read that Arab Muslims also had schools to teach young girls sex techniques for harems and such.
“Here’s our one chance Fancy Don’t let me down” Sad but has been around since the beginning.
India is a destination for a sexual holiday for many Muslims.
Until India gets rids of this deplorable practice and the continued unofficial caste system, it will never be considered a first world nation.
My son took a marketing class last spring where the students had a case study on the ethics of skin-whitening cosmetics in India. That’s nothing compared to this. This is really sad...to think of those poor little girls raised as animals to be led off to a life of misery at 12 or 13 years of age. How could people do this to their kids? I’ll never understand the Indian caste system...of course, thanks to liberal government, we now have our own perpetual underclass we’ll never be rid of, either.
I can imagine how the teacher used that lesson.
The Devil is obviously hard at work in India, as he uses his Hindu religion to forward his aims...
Well that’s bad stuff and all, but NOTHING compared to the Republican War on Women.
The rape and torture of millions of girls doesn’t seem to bother god one bit. Maybe because they’re of the “wrong” religion? It’s the whole “free will” thing that allows god to turn a blind eye. It’s ok though, more bodies for that pesky eternal lake of fire. What a cock.
well, its a victimless crime unless you happen to be the 9 yro girl.....in America, 9 yro's are considered to be children....
I say the same things about Hooters bars, etc.....society really expect young girls and women to have any pride in academics, or athletics, etc, if they know they are only valued for their boobs, and somehow having fat, balding middle aged men leering at their chests is just business?...
Planned Parenthood's sex-ed branch SIECUS seeks this training in schools as well. Where would the yutes of today without an upbringing in the concepts of "safe fisting"?
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
You apparently don't have any idea what bothers God.
Why do you speak of things you don't know? Or why don't you find out, first?
not condoning it, but at least these women earn every rupee.
unlike our own politicians.
Can’t tell what’s happening in this pic. Is this man picking up a woman on the street?