Pranita was four years old when she was sold to a broker forcibly by her mother, as she was unable to prostitute in her last days due to her infection with HIV. By the time when Prajwala, an institution that assists trafficked women and girls, rushed to the spot, she was already raped by three men. Anjali's father, a drunkard, sold his child for pornography. In yet another dreadful story, Shaheen, a 3-year old girl, was found on a railway track and her background was not clearly known. She was brutally raped by hundreds of men and the indication of that on her body was so cruel to an extent that her intestine was out of her body and was in need of 32 stitches to put her intestine back.
This is the third largest organised crime in our society, a 10-billion dollar industry, the worst form of human rights violation and a modern-day slavery. This is nothing but the human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation and slavery in India. In this country and across the globe, hundreds and thousands of women and children ( as young as 3 or 4 years) are sold for commercial sexual exploitation to work as forced prostitutes or virtual slaves.
Where do these people come from? Most of the victims are from the poor and optionless families and some are from middle class and well to do families as well. There was even a case few years back, in which a 14 year old daughter of an IAS officer, who was studying 9th standard and web-chatting with a person with whom she ran away from home, was trafficked. There are hundreds and thousands of stories like this in which women and children are deceived and forced into flesh trade. Almost everyone of them resist being inducted into prostitution and some pay price for it. They are either killed or subjected to extreme tortures. They are voiceless and their resistance go vain. And the rest who succumb into it go through everyday torture - because men who seek them are not the one who are trying to make girl friends and to have a family with them; they buy them for an hour or a day, use them for sexual pleasure and throw them like an empty cigar. Each of the rescued victims say at least one story in common - about one man putting chilli powder in her vagina; about one man taking a cigarette and burning her genitals, or about one man whipping her. We live among those men only - they are our fathers, brothers, uncles, etc. and we are silent with them.
Sunita Krishnan, co-founder of Prajwala, says that it is not the traffickers who pose a major challange in rescuing and rehabilitating those victims, but it is the civil society (which includes all of us) poses a major hindrance. The victims are ostarcised, stigmatised and isolated from the normal life by the society only because of the fact that they are victims. We all have PhDs in victimising the victims. We don't allow them to lead a normal life like us. We have blocks to accept them as our own. We neither bring them to our homes nor give them any employment. We don't encourage them or their children to study with our children and come up in life. We think that it is their fate and can't do anything otherthan showing our sympathy on them. We also heartlessly think that they like to do what they are doing and earn good remuneration. Have we ever thought of the extra bonuses that they get - various infections and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV AIDS, syphilis, etc.? And one fine day they give upon us - you and me - because we have no option for them. They start normalising these exploitations believing that that is their destiny and think that it is so normal to get raped by hundreds of men every day. And what is abnormal and impractical is that to live in a shelter and to get rehabilitated.
"We have trained such girls as carpenters, masons, metal welders, cab drivers, etc. and they are excelling. They work for big corporates like Ramkee constructions and when they can do such physical jobs, why not computers?" asks Sunita. They have immense amount of courage and have no purdahs inside their body and mind and have crossed such barriers. Therefore they can fight a male-dominated society like this with ease and never feel shy about it, she adds.
It is very easy to discuss about this in a classroom or an air-conditioned hall, but that can help nothing. Are we ready to give them an opportunity? An opportunity to gain confidence, restore their dignity and to build hopes in their own lives? They need our compassion, empathy and more than anything, our acceptance. Let us break our culture of silence and our nature of being insensitive to others woes. Let us accept them as our own mothers and sisters and not as philanthropy and charity, but as human beings who deserves all our support. They seek and demand our support because no children or women or no human being in this world deserve what they gone through.