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Lost dreams in the corridors of trafficking

Women from bangladesh lured with a promise of jobs, find themselves in quagmire of sex trade.

It was the desire to see the Taj Mahal that drew her to India. But the journey Nazia* undertook from Bangladesh led her to the dark pit of despair in a Madurai brothel. Rescued after a police raid, and now in the safe environs of Madras Christian Council of Social Service (MCCSS), the 20-year-old is determined to be financially independent before she returns home. And, with all the red tape involved and funds that need to be raised, it seems to be a long wait.

“Chennai is a source, transit and destination point for traffickers. At present, we have three Bangladeshi women who have been rescued from flesh trade. They have spent three to five years in government vigilance homes, and have been with us for five months,” says Isabel Richardson, executive secretary of MCCSS, which works to prevent human trafficking. “But we need to get clearances from Bangladeshi and Indian authorities, which take a long time. 

Drivers of prostitution

India has the highest number of people living in slavery,’ Ajeet says and explains that women are disproportionately affected. Every year, Guria rescues around 250 women and girls who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation. 

Lured in with the promises of employment and better living conditions, women find themselves in the hands of traffickers who burden them with debt and keep them in brothels. 

‘We recognise that there is a link between trafficking and hunger, trafficking and gender discrimination, trafficking and lack of happiness,’ Ajeet explains and adds that, in addition to wanting to escape poverty, ‘there is also a cultural aspect, particularly in the South. There, girls are dedicated to the goddess and have no choice but to engage in prostitution. And, in some communities in India, prostitution is part of a tradition, something passed from mother to daughter.’

Sadly, the cycle of exploitation and abuse often does not end at one woman. In India, there are thousands of children who grow up in red light districts, which puts them at risk of maltreatment and trafficking. Second generation prostitution is a significant challenge in Varanasi and the wider Uttar Pradesh region. Girls grow up seeing their mothers engage in prostitution and, not having the resources to change their social position, many end up following in their mother’s footsteps.


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