1.2 million women and children are trafficked each year worldwide. In India 135,000 women and children fall prey to traffickers while in the USA, 50,000 women and children are trafficked yearly. While these staggering numbers send one reeling back, one can’t help but wonder why and how easily people get conned.

There is a silent question in many hearts as to why trafficked victims often resign to their fate without fight back. Why do they not report the traffickers? Why do they not name them in First Information Reports and why do they fight our social workers. Here are a few reasons for their silence.

  1. Once girls are taken to brothels, the brothel owner/keeper propels them to a comfort zone and builds a sort of nest for them. She acts as if she too is a victim and is helping them cope with the dilemma. The victims believe that getting out is impossible and most of them resign to their fate with defeated despondency.
  2. There is another type of brothel keeper who controls the girls by terrorizing them. Struck with fear of what might happen to them if they rebel or try to escape, they go along with their perpetrators. They are brainwashed into believing that if they are “rescued”, they will be thrown into prison. They slowly start to view their “rescuers” as their enemies. In some cases where the police and Freedom Firm rescued girls, the victims actually viewed their rescuers with hostility . Not everyone wants to be rescued as the young girls are indoctrinated to believing that their families will starve if they do not work, this is the only work they can get, and brothel keepers tell them that rescuers will harm them and throw them in jail. Life in a shelter home is no picnic either because it is a place of transition and not always easy.
  3. They also are riddled with guilt and shame, feeling unworthy of a better life, thus they do not fight back. Stooped down with poor self-images, feeling tainted within the brothels, they feel that even if they get out, they will be marked “unclean” by society and would not be able to get normal jobs.
  4. The most tragic part of this is not having their own family system to support them. In many cases, their parents decided their destiny even before they were born. Some parents in certain communities actually prefer a girl because they can sell her to a brothel when she is older and earn money from them. Here are some communities in India that actually sell their daughters into prostitution:
    Nats: Poverty has forced women into prostitution and has passed on from one generation of women to another.
    Devadasis: The girls are dedicated as slaves to the goddess Yellamma. The marriage between a Devdasi girl and the goddess usually occurs before the girl reaches puberty. They visit the temple and wear necklaces of pearls to show they are bound to Yellamma for life.
    The Bedia men forced their women into prostitution because of poverty and lack of education.
    Kanjars: For the Kanjars, prostitution is an age-old tradition which is called ‘Chaari Pratha’.
    Banchchadas: The tradition originated in the Mauryan Era when girls were sent to the royal courts as respected courtesans. Over time, it has turned into commercial sexual exploitation.

What is the solution then

Only a strong emphasis on education can overcome these cycles of sexual slavery for girls and a transformed mindset in India. This issue requires the country to get together and work on a solution. The girls need to be taught their rights and deep potential for greater goals and job options for them in life. This learning and knowledge will help them spread their wings, fly and enjoy lives of dignified financial inclusion.

Rita is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor