Pastor Paul Ciniraj of Paul Ciniraj Ministries in India, describes the tragic cycle of prostitution that Dalit (depressed community) girls, as young as 10-years-old, are forced into by their own families in Rajasthan State.
The girls are mostly aged between 12 and 15, though some are as young as 10. They stand at the roadside along with their fathers and brothers who fix the ‘price’ for them. Members of the girls families are well aware of the brutal behavior of customers who often ravage the little girls. Many of the child sex workers contract sexually transmitted diseases.
“The customers of the girls are mainly truck drivers in this area. The average ‘rate’ for one girl for half an hour is Rs.100. They take the girls to their trucks or thatched huts a few hundred meters away from the road,” says the brother of a teenaged girl.
But that hardly deters their families. “The better looking girls are sent to red light areas in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities. They earn good money there and send it back to us,” said the father of a teenaged girl who was sold some time ago in the national capital for Rs.150,000.
These girls belong to a particular Dalit community which is spread over dozens of villages in Bharatpur. This community was traditionally known for its singing and dancing skills but gradually took up prostitution as its main occupation. It falls under the Scheduled Caste category.
“What can we do, we have to send our daughters into this profession as there are no alternative means of livelihood. Despite reservation for the Scheduled Castes no one from our community in this village has a government job,” says a 58-year-old resident of Ghatoli.
The most striking feature of Ghatoli, and other surrounding villages, such as Bansipaharpur, Khakarnagla and Ludhabai, is that one hardly finds young women other than daughters-in-law in most of the houses.
“The reason is that, traditionally, daughters-in-law are not sent for prostitution, though daughters are trained right from the age of seven to become prostitutes. As soon as girls cross 10 years of age, they are sent to women relatives in the red light areas of big cities,” explains 50-year-old Shyama, a resident of Ghatoli.
“I also went to Delhi for prostitution but was lucky enough to meet someone who proposed marriage to me. Today, I have a son and two daughters and I am happily married,” Shyama said.
“Girl children in Ghatoli and surrounding villages are sent to the cities to their sisters, aunts or mothers who are already in the flesh trade. They are continuously tutored right from the childhood, so that they are mentally prepared to enter sex work,” Shyama said.
Fathers and brothers visit the girls at regular intervals in the cities to collect the earnings. Some families have even built multi-storied houses with such money.
If a child is born out of wedlock to a prostitute, families bring the baby back to the village. And if the baby happens to be a girl, then there are celebrations – for it means an additional ‘earning member’ for the family, in another 10 or 12 years.
The Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar, sometime ago described Rajasthan as the “worst State” in the country, in the matter of Dalit atrocities. “Rajasthan, which is rich in culture and heritage, was extremely backward in social justice,” she said.
Pray for the evangelists who are ministering in this place. They are undertaking a great . . . very great task, of bringing many children back from [an] ugly life [of prostitution], to a Gospel based holy life. But they are under the fear of torturing. They are surrounded by dangerous situations. Hindu radicals, and public nuisance, are joining hand in hand to wipe them out. So their families and children are worrying.