The Downhill Effect
We value approaching our work with sound data and research that supports our actions. As we grow and mature as an organization there is an increasing need to be engaged with academic work that guides our decision making process. We have become an organization that seeks opportunities to be involved in research. This led us back to India.
We had found that the impact of human trafficking and exploitation in Northeast India was impacting children and families. We had learned that many of them were trafficked out of thier rural settings into the large megacities. One of our board members, Ben Corey, is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in inter-cultural studies at Fuller Seminary. His study is focusing on developing human trafficking prevention strategies for the north east. What we learned while doing this field work opened our eyes to a more heinous situation than we could imagine.
Mumbai is a city a twenty million. It is a true megacity and it's size is difficult to explain. The depth of it's poverty is contrasted by the impressive building boom that sends skyscrapers into the sky everywhere you travel. We were in Mumbai to gain a better understanding of how women and children from the northeast ended up in the brothels of Mumbai. We were told that there were 70,000 sex workers in the Mumbai region and many of them came from away.
We were able to interview ten women who were actively living in and working inthe brothels. They were deplorable conditions. All of them came from poor communities far from Mumbai. We were told that all of the were illiterate. Their stories were earily similar. These were young wives in rural villages who had had children at which point their husbands would leave them. In this culture of shame they often were left to fend for themselves to survive and provide for thier chidren.
They would recieve offers of employment in the city only to find that they were sold into the brothel. This bondage was tied to debt and the shame of this life penetrated deep into thier souls. Thier stories were hard to hear and left a burden of sadness that will forever impact our efforts. What came next tore our hearts even deeper as we realized the true impact of the these trafficked mothers and their chidlren...
Each of these women had children. Children that lived in the brothels with them. Children that they desperately tried to keep safe, fed and alive. We spent time in a daycare center run for the distinct purpose of giving the children a meal, education and a safe alternative to the street in the slums. This heartbreaking reality was that with human trafficking to the sex trade came the children of the brothels.
This harsh reality was everyday life for children. A life marked not only by living in the slums but also by living within the brothels. A brothel is stall, not an apartment. It is a bed with a small space underneath where children would sleep or be drugged while thier mother "worked". It is a desperate act to ensure that your child does not starve yet we realize that many will not understand this.
It is difficult to describe this tragedy. It is more difficult to impact it. We are burdened by this reality and will fight to find a way to help. These kids are just like our own. They laugh and play. They are silly and sometimes they are sassy. The truth is that their own hope is tied to the bondage of their mothers and the mothers are the only ones who care...
What are you willing to do to help the children of the brothels?