Thursday, 13 December 2012

A short walk into hell

I entered a kind of hell today.

Off a busy street in Bhandup.  Down a slightly less busy one.  Then a tiny crack in the wall between two butcher shops.

The half carcass of a goat adorns one of the shops.  Flies buzz and settle on the meat.  The other shop has  the same wares - even larger piece of fly-infested mutton.  And what lies down the narrow crack of a walk?

More meat for sale.  Human meat this time.

It takes a second to realise that suddenly you are in a different world.  Girls are lounging around.  Colourfully dressed.  Languidly putting on make up.  One each side young and old women are sitting.  Looking at you.  The odd young man is also there.  Old women - with heavy make up steal glances at you.

We walk down the middle of the little path and then duck into a flight of stairs.

We have come to our destination.  A small room where the Project Parivartan of the Sahaara Charitable Society runs a weekly medical clinic among these women who sell themselves. 

There is no power today.  In normal clinic room there is no window.  The nurse on duty is giving one of the women from the brothels an IV line.  The two field workers flit up and down the stairs - bringing girls who are complaining of medical problems.

One is drunk.  She says that she had broken her foot and had had a cast put on it.  But she cut it off.  The cast that is.  The foot is still there but in pain.

"Why did you take it off?"  The Doctor asks the woman.

"I have to eat.  No one gives me food just like that."  Replied the woman who was called 'Doll.'

I must have seen 15 odd ladies come into the room.  Get a checkup and some meds from the doctor.  Receive comforting words from the various SCS staff.   All of them then went back to their 'homes.'   As I write at an unearthly hour - they will be engaged in 'the trade.'

Dr. Lalita Edwards and myself have been asked to do an evaluation of Project Parivartan.  That was why we did the field visit to see the clinic and interact with the staff.   The Project Parivartan people are deeply committed to helping these women leave the trade.  But they cannot force them - and there are such huge barriers for the women to step into another life.

I asked Rekha - the main coordinator for the work among the women for Project Parivartan - how many women had left the trade this year to date.

She told me that 4 had left.

You could say that: "All that work. And only 4 left the trade."


You can say that: "All that work is going to reap rewards.  So far we have a trickle with only 4 having left the trade.  But we need to see this break out in a huge way - given the terrible situation there women are in.  Lets see Sahaara and the churches they are linked with now move forward in a huge way to love in deed!"

Hats off the the Sahaara team and all others who are working directly with these women.

Amazing grace.  In the heart-breaking passageway of a kind of hell on earth.

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