Rights? What rights? You’re dumb, you don’t know the meaning of rights! … Literally.
It’s endemic, it’s resourceful, it has a web that is vast and well informed and it seems to be thriving.
According to the UN, between 4-24 million children and women get trafficked or are in the realms of trafficking a year.
If you want it simply put then it comes down to money, a lack of education, resale value and poverty. You needn’t read on if you’re satisfied with that, but I encourage you to take the time.
I visited Oasis, which has offices in the U.S, South Africa, The U.K, Mozambique, Belgium, Uganda, Bangladesh and a few others… Trafficking though is part of the makeup of almost every country in some way.
The Oasis project I visited in Mumbai focused more on the sexual exploitation aspect of trafficking but it comes in many forms from Child Labor, Forced Prostitution, Dancing, Housework and others. It’s a bit shocking, but it seems to happen and is let happen far too easily, such is the way the developing world and even the developed world seems to be working. For every successful raid there are others police carry out which return empty handed thanks to bribes paid by the owners – money talks.
Children are the most prominent victims of Human Trafficking, adult women are also victims of it but it becomes a lot easier when you’re dealing with physically weaker and less educated and independent girls, sometimes as young as 9.
Children are normally from broken families, families where the parents fight, or have died, where they abuse one another and the child, make the child beg or where relatives sexually abuse the child. In a lot of cases, I have been told that it is most common for a child to end up being trafficked due to being sold by a family member or a husband who has married the girl and was already involved in the racket of trafficking. So close to home.
Children are either sold and just sent on their way or lured with varying false promises, the promises of a good education or, for the more independent kids who’ve spent a majority of their lives begging on the streets the promise of a “good, well paying job”, best defined as housework. For the lucky one’s this is their reality.
The mentality is suprisingly submissive regarding this and, whilst I find Indians to be quite community driven, it’s reported that they only tend to really care about what’s going on if it involves one of their own, someone from their state or the local area, something which traffickers know and tend to make a rarity.
In Mumbai, a lot of the children or women are trafficked unknowingly with the idea of better things from Nepal and Bangladesh (getting in easily due to the relaxed immigration laws)something that proves to hard to resist. They apparently make their way all over the country, but for Mumbai’s purposes make their way to Mumbai CST station by train from Kolkata and places such as Varanasi.
So where do you go and what do you do when you’re in a foreign country, or even a different state, illiterate because you’ve not been provided with a good education, where no one knows your language and you’ve found yourself talking to someone a lot more grown up, and more importantly, when you’re still trying to comprehend what’s happened and where you are that you’ve not only been sold for 50,000 rupees, (bluntly put a lot of money for a child) and the only way you’ll be let go, is when you’ve repaid your debt?
It’s not straight forward, and, in short, if you’re not saved then you’re indebited for a long time.
It’s not all bad, the “Madames”, the women who run the brothels and have normally come from a similar background, do give a percentage of the girls prostitution earnings to the girl for her to do what she likes with it, whether that be save or send home to her family or whatever, but the cons far outweigh the pros. Clothes and makeup and food are also provided. It’s important the girls look good.
A girl, from 13/14 up can usually apparently expect to have sex with 15 different guys a day, with each slot lasting for about an hour and costing the ‘customer’ anywhere from 100/200rupees (around three pounds) to 500 rupees for the more up market brothels.
The girls will usually find themselves having sex at the guys discretion, S&M has been known to be done, whilst whether it’s protected sex or not is just a game of chance, with girls often contracting all known STD’s, AIDs and in certain instances ending up having babies. If babies are had they normally end up growing up in and around the brothel, whilst the mother (if she’s been trafficked, will never be allowed to leave) the child is, but will always return.
If the child’s finished school or its activities for the day, whatever they are (I was told of a 5 yr old boy caught smoking whilst visiting), then if their mum is working they will normally just curl up or sit outside their parents door, normally in dark and narrow corridors and wait for their mum to finish, oblivious to what’s going on.
For the boys, it’s obviously a bit more different, boys are usually trafficked for the manual labor side of things, finding themselves in roles which require bringing alcohol to the customers, cleaning the brothels, doing other manual work. The less fortunate end up with Unuchs, which is basically transgender people, and, after a while, end up having their sex changed, either by choice through emotive reasoning or familiarity or by force.
Why isn’t it stopped? Well, it’s not easy, you have to gather quite a lot of intel before being able to go for a raid, something that is hard to come by as the girls in question are normally told not to disclose any information or are just, plainly, too scared to speak out.
So what’s happened to law enforcement, well as I mentioned earlier the police vary in their reliability. Corruption is still quite a big issue here, although there are instances where they come through. It’s important not to generalize an entire police force, but a lot of the leading line stuff is done by Charities. It still isn’t easy. Brothels are known to have informants within the police force and at a moments notice girls can be moved from one brothel to any other of a network of brothels nearby or further afield.
Do they try and run?
Of course, that is if they haven’t been broken beforehand (apparently to break children they lock them up in dark rooms or cages for a while), but the problem with trying to escape is that the children are unfamiliar to the area, they will usually find themselves being caught by the numerous pimps employed by the brothel before they get very far. Is it worth running?
Girls and children all end up getting sucked into this way of being ( you can’t call it a life) due to the amount of times they get ploughed with drugs and alcohol, something which, with time, becomes a personal addiction and which fuels their debts even further.
It’s a vicious cycle and it’s hard to see it coming to an end in the immediate future, although raising awareness of this is a big start, especially in the impoverished areas that a lot of the children trafficked come from. A good education seems vitally important too. It keeps kids away from prying eyes, it keeps kids in school and learning how to be independent and also to gain that emotional strength amongst other things to stand on their own two feet, not only to be able to read and speak and write where it’s necessary to convey a message as important as “i’ve been trafficked”. You need to stop this cycle there, otherwise “learned helplessness” becomes a lifelong frame of mind.
But this is an adaptable and intelligent “industry”, madames now have resorted to incentivising new children to find others to take their place. It’s emotional state is clinical and unrelenting and makes life become so cheap.
It does need to stop, but unfortunately we live in a world where money matters almost too much and in a world where things become a test of who has the stronger will.
Brothel owners are convicted, women are free’d but that’s always the final hurdle of what can be quite an overwhelming and life destroying cycle.
The money is the big catch, after being shown into a brothel as a prospective undercover customer (story here), we spoke to the pimp about his life choices. Resale value makes it a prolific market, even in a conservative society like India, PIMPs are normally in it from a young age, at times even trafficked in to being pimps and adopt the mentality, such is the impressionable nature of kids.
I hope this brief insight into the world of human trafficking, something I know is high on the agendas of the CIA, FBI and other big international agencies, is of use.
Oasis, the project I visit is an international organisation. The center in Mumbai has decided to be an NGO that focuses on dialect and outreach to the brothels, establishing communication and should any girls find themselves out of this way of life at any point also acts as a long term rehabilitation project. It does more but I would be wise not to mention that, it is though all positive.