|photograph of Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap is from here|
For those of us living in great denial with equally great arrogance and significant structural and social supports, we assume that everyone has the same options, the same freedoms, and the same levels of privilege and entitlement, to do what we want, including to work in sexxxism industries, or not. So the line between "choosing to work there" and "being enslaved there" is made blurry only by those who have enough privilege and/or denial to believe everyone "chooses to work there".
So let's be clear: if you're not living in abject poverty, earning less than three dollars a day income, shut the fuck up about what bad parents some parents are for letting their children out into the street to be picked up by pimps. Because, really, you have no fucking idea what's going on. None at all. You have no idea how pimps are, necessarily, smooth operators, lying bastards, who approach poor parents sometimes and pretend to represent educational institutions in the West/North and propose that their child will actually thrive in the Global North/West if only they can get to a good academic institution located in that far off place.
Maybe a parent (inside or beyond North America, South Asia, Eastern Europe, or Central America) wants something likes this for their child, something other than abject poverty and hunger. Maybe the pimp is very good at what he does: lying and stealing, including stealing children from parents through deception and the manipulation of powerful love so many parents have for their own children--a love so strong one would be willing to not see one's own child for years just to know s/he has a better life as defined and delineated by the pimp. And, then, most tragically, the pimp brings the child into a life far worse than any imagined hell. And the parents are betrayed and may not get to know this for some time. So, that's not bad parenting, to be clear. That's called "effective pimping and trafficking and slaving". Just for the record.
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With little value placed on girls from poor families, it is thought more than a quarter of a million women are trafficked in India each year. Some are as young as nine, and come from the rural areas of neighboring Nepal.
The parents of the victims do not always realize what the world outside their home is like, says Ruchira Gupta, the president of an anti-trafficking NGO called Apne Aap (which means self-help in Hindi).
”The parents may know a little bit about what Bombay [Mumbai] is if there is television in the village. To them Bombay represents a lifestyle rather than a brothel, and the difference between hunger and food and a job,” she explains.
It is easy to cross the border between India and Nepal. There are well established routes for trafficking.
“India is the epicenter of the sex trafficking industry right now in the world. The reason is that there is low enforcement of laws against traffickers, pimps and johns,” says Ruchira Gupta.
In the northern state of Bihar, rescue groups keep an eye on the trains passing through.
”It's not easy,” confesses Sita, one of the social workers. “When we ask youngsters where they are going, they say they are going to study. If a girl is traveling with a boy, she says he is her brother. But when we demand their identity cards, we see they aren't related.”
“We have no work in our village. I have two young children and when I was promised a job in Mumbai, I decided to take up the offer,” one of the rescued women says.
It is an easy to convince young girls in a village hundreds of kilometers away that they can make it big in Mumbai.
“Girls are misled by people offering them jobs in big cities,” says Bihar Police Inspector A.K. Gupta. “Some are convinced that they can be a part of a dance group, and are conned into coming to India.”
Taking into account the gravity and the sheer size of the problem, campaigners want to see villagers in Nepal given more warnings of the dangers, and the police more active in clamping down on traffickers.