Thursday, October 11, 2012
Remembering Young Girls Held in Brothels who Need Help As World Observes The ‘International Day Of The Girl Child’
By James Varghese
Special Correspondent in India for ASSIST News Service
INDIA (ANS) -- On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as “The International Day of the Girl Child”, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges that girls face around the world.
One study in India by a campaign group to end child sex trafficking - found more than three in 10 trafficked children suffered from HIV/AIDS, which came from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other gynecological problems.
Andhra Pradesh state in India accounts for nearly half of all sex trafficking cases in India, the majority involving adolescent girls. According to police estimates, a shocking 300,000 women and girls have been trafficked for exploitative sex work from Andhra Pradesh; of these just 3,000 have been rescued so far.
Organized sex trafficking is so entrenched that traffickers have penetrated the remotest villages, preying on vulnerable young girls from impoverished households and pushing them into sex work and slavery across the country. Promises of marriage, employment and even food are used to lure girls from their homes, only for them to find themselves forced into the sex trade.
The overwhelming majority of girls pushed into exploitative sex work come from rural pockets of India hit by extreme poverty. Social structures and deep-rooted gender bias mean they are the poorest, most disadvantaged people even within their own communities. Girls usually drop out of school long before their brothers; they are assigned household chores and often look after their siblings while their parents go out to work.
Once trafficked and sold in the brothel, the life of these young girls will be so terrible.
As evening falls, these girls get restless. Huddled in a group, some go very quiet, while others become agitated. The large hall of residence fills with an atmosphere of fear and anxiety.
One of the girls that the Indian Rescue Mission, a Christian organization I had the privilege of organizing, had rescued from the sex trade, breaks down as she recounts her experience at a brothel that we rescued her from just a few days ago.
For two weeks, she says she was kept sedated and offered to clients in a comatose state before she was allowed a meal.
Each of the girls have suffered varying degrees of abuse, torture, slavery and inhumane treatment.
The nature of some of the sexual assaults carried out on girls is so graphic that the details are unsuitable to print. It is not surprising that when rescued girls are referred to the transit home their minds and bodies are in deep trauma.
Now, for a time, the girls can forget their circumstances, and revert to being playful youngsters. Some are hopeful that it could mean a new life.
The majority of girls rescued from sex work are never accepted by their families and communities. Even the few who are reclaimed face stigma and prejudice which make it almost impossible for them to regain a normal life. The girls suffer from a total loss of self-esteem. Most are consumed with guilt for living an “immoral” life as sex worker in a society governed by traditional sanctions and customs.
Often unwanted and unwelcome, victims find themselves trapped in life-long destitution and slavery. Sometimes the only option is to return to their traffickers. Nearly eight out of 10 victims are forced back on to the streets and into brothels after being rehabilitated.
Meanwhile, their traffickers mostly go unpunished, keeping up a thriving sex trade. Although hundreds of girls are rescued from brothels every year, police say the conviction rate of perpetrators under the national Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act is low.
This leaves many sex workers helpless and lonely, and for the most there is no way to break the cycle. Most do not even exist on official records, leaving them without identity papers and excluding them from the little welfare support the state can afford, such as discounted food rations.
The rehabilitation support for sex workers is virtually non-existent and most are either unable to access it or have rejoined the sex trade by the time any support becomes available.
The Indian Rescue Mission, a Christian organization dedicated to rescue young girls from these brothels are making efforts aimed at not just rehabilitating rescued girls but also at preventing children being forced into sex work through trafficking. So far we have rescued more than 200 girls from various brothels across the country.
With our new Human Trafficking Prevention Project, we are planning to help each girl get a sewing machine and provide training to start a new life. So she would not go back to her old life in prostitution.
Hence we can make a difference on this day by helping them with what we can. Every little helps. You can help a girl buy a new sewing machine to start a new life.
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This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.