We started the day by meeting with several men who serve on the Board of Directors for an NGO whose goal is to rescue and rehabilitate women sold as sex slaves into India. They described the means by which these women are sold: Sometimes attractive men visit remote villages, find beautiful young girls as young as age 12, and either marry them there or take them away with the promise to marry them later. They take the girls to large cities such as Bombay. Once there, they take the girls to a brothel, saying that these women in the house are relatives and they’ll (the men) will be back shortly. It doesn’t take long before the girls realize they’ve been lied to and are now enslaved in prostitution. If they refuse to comply, they are tortured and raped.
Sometimes the girls are sold directly into the sex trade by their own parents or even their husbands because of the income potential. Sometimes young girls are lured to the big cities with the promise of a cleaning job in an office or for a wealthy family. They get the job, alright, but they’re also forced to give sexual favors to their employers and then sold by the same into the industry.
Rescuing these girls is risky because so many people appreciate the income earned through this business. The police are often involved, taking bribes to keep their mouths shut if a girl seeks their help. We’ve heard stories of girls going to the police station for assistance and being raped there.
In many cases, these girls contract HIV. If they’re kicked out of the brothel when they’re too sick to function any longer, they often have no place to turn. Their village folk don’t want them back – being ill only makes them a financial burden. If they can’t work, how will they earn a living? They’re left destitute. If they’re still able to function to a degree, they often return to the brothel for lack of other options.
We listened to these men describe the work that’s taking place in their organization and sat in awe of what they’re doing. They own a house where these women and their children live. While there, they receive food, clothing, education, life skills training, and much needed HIV medication. If the girls marry, the organization looks after the details. If they die from AIDS, it takes care of those details. The Board expressed the desire to become self-supported by leasing or purchasing land to run a pig and poultry farm. They’re hoping to raise at least $3000 to help them purchase the above. What’s that to a North American? If 30 people donated $100 each, the farm could be purchased and the work could advance to a whole new level.
This issue of human trafficking looms larger than my imagination can comprehend. How can a little organization like this even make a noticeable dent? By faithfully doing what it can, one life at a time. And I want to help.