Not all stories at Shikshan Gram are happy tales. Once the children are with us – their lives start to look up – their faces brighten, their health improves, and their smiles begin to creep into their lives with more and more regularity.
But their histories are tough and the lives they have come from can leave deep scars. Some are still under threat.
I won’t reveal her name but this beautiful young woman, now 14 years old was saved from human trafficking. There is a custom amongst some of those living below the poverty line.. they sell their daughter once she has reached a certain age – for a small sum of cash. The child – as she still is really a child – is then taken into slavery for some years – at least while she is still worth something. She may be a sex slave – usually for only one or two men.. usually of a higher caste than she is.. or perhaps she will be put to work as a domestic, or a farm labourer – and treated worse than a dog, her health deteriorates, she is severely traumatised and rapidly goes down hill.
After two or three years when she is no longer of use to the ‘owner’ she is returned to her village – down trodden – outcast by the locals because of her history – and in effect thrown on the scrap heap of existence.
We have three girls here who have been in danger of this inhumane practice. One was snatched from the imminent sale – her older sister having already suffered this fate. She tells her story in a matter of fact way – but she is still in danger.
One of them is regularly visited by her mother.. who brings a string of different ‘uncles’ to visit.. we watch her carefully and never leave her alone during these visits which seem more like a marketing strategy.
We love our girls dearly.. they are developing into independent and beautiful young women. We will not let them go.
Slavery in any form is never okay… it is poverty which creates this situation – poverty is the curse.. let us do all we can to improve the lives of all our brothers and sisters so that we can eliminate this crime against humanity.