today we went to sonapur, a red light district that is up and running less than ten minutes away from the home we have been staying at all summer in bhandup.
a social worker took us first to the sneha center, where the children of the prostitutes stay and learn english and have a schoolday there. the children stay there sometimes past mindnight so that they do not have to see their mothers practicing their prostitution. what's sad is that it is almost impossible to enroll these children into local public schools because they do not know the name of their father. the school wants to know the names, and they just have no idea. their motheres are seeing sometimes 10, 20 or more customers a night, and a lot of them are just passery-by truck drivers that they won't see again.
this center is in what looks like a storage shed, probably 60 feet long and 20 feet wide. they are fighting getting it taken away because the landlords said that they can get more money from the prostitutes that want to rent it out. we were told that this storage shed would be used as an area for about 50 practicing prostitutes...all in this open room.
a few of the women took us to see their homes where they practice. as we walked down the alleyway where the homes were, my feet were covered in mud and there were prostitutes all sitting in front of their homes. they all had on a lot of red lipstick and some had revealing clothing. their faces were so unhappy and cold it was hard to look them in the eye. the homes we went into were difficult for two or three of us to squeeze into. they had a few bunk beds and that was about all there was to the homes.seriously- it was a door, four walls, and some beds. there were about six women to a "home" and they all practiced in there..at the same time. their children would be in the corner sleeping while all this is going on. i can't even imagine being a child in that situation.
these women cannot escape. a lot of them are from different states in india and some from nepal. they are from villages and are tricked into coming there for promise of a husband and a better life. then, they get there and are sold to these "mothers" that take all the money they make from prostitution and let them have a place to stay and a meal. that's it. so many of the women were asking us to please pray for them to find a way out. these women cannot get away also because there are always men out looking for them, and they always have to answer to someone about where they are going and what they are doing.when/if they get away, if they are found, they are beaten. they are someone else's property and not their own. i just felt so helpless.
tomorrow we are driving about two hours to bhadlapur, where we will go to the transformation center where some of the women who got out are living.