By Aastha Kapoor
While I came across “Inside the brothels”- a report by Nicholas Kristof which complied a set of 7 real stories on sex trafficking collected over two decades of his reporting, I was astounded by facts that can cause goose bumps to anyone. The horrendous number of women and child trafficking and their horrific experiences were astounding.
In prostitution, it is assumed that it is only by choice that those women are in brothels. However at most places girls at a very young age when they should be bruising their knees running across fields playing games are brought into brothels sometimes by their own mothers. We fail to realise that most of the women into this field were coerced into it with little chance to escape, under the burden of family debt that was paid by the selling of their daughters. Also, these numbers have only been increasing with more and more girls in the age group of 11-15 and that is because customers pay more for virgins and they also have little risk of having AIDS. There is little action from the governments and police because in many countries, it is a part of the well established sex tourism industry. By the time they realise what they have got into, they fight only to be returned by beatings and thrashings from their pimps. With time, they lose that fight and accept it as a way of life. For those who can yet find some hope and are able to get out, they find little help in terms of rehabilitation into the mainstream society which ostracizes them completely. It is difficult to imagine the plight of women who are caught into these swirls.
Even if and when the police resorts to taking steps, the arrests made are of these same women who are a victim themselves and not the pimps who bring them into it, beat them, sell and buy them like soft toys sold at markets. The arrests made are not of the customers who pay for them and in return get a receipt. Kristof rightly compares it to the Slave culture when in 21st century human beings can be bought and sold.
The trafficking problem is not limited to the Asian countries of Cambodia, India, Philippines and Africa but leads further to the most unexpected streets of Manhattan and Wall Street in United States. The only difference from where I can see it is that once reported, there is more probability of definite action being taken in the ultra-developed regions and the chances of reviving back into normalcy and continuing a normal lifestyle and education are more in West than in countries where till this date, even the judicial system hasn’t yet overcome the stigma of victim blaming and there are little resorts for women. It also points to the urgency of having an international network of governments that freely share information and take actions, as the problems of trafficking are no longer domestic issues of nations but global in nature.
A dignified life is a human right. These little young girls deserve a chance to escape the dungeons and to be reunited with society who does not judge them from their past but gives them a chance to start again. There can be no end to all of it until there is some action and there can possibly be no action until there is more talking and sharing and awareness. The stories are all heartbreaking but there is due credit to give to some others- those few resilient ladies who have fought for themselves and continue to till this day, the number of organizations and NGOs who try to help, the journalists who report on these issues, the lawyers who represent these victims and the people who read, know, talk and share this information. The fight is still on.
For the entire reports and stories by Nicholas Kristof: