CHILD PROSTITUTION IN INDIA
There isn't any child prostitution in India. There is no prostitution of any kind in India at all. Why? Because prostitution in India is illegal.
"C'mon, Jane," said the Chief. "You KNOW that isn't true. Prostitution in the U.S. is illegal also yet almost 90% of the girls in any given American juvenile hall are there for turning tricks. Get with the program. Write the freaking essay." Oh, okay. Here it is:
Driving through the endless countryside of India on our way to the Taj Mahal, I got into a conversation with an Indian friend. "What is the AIDS situation in India like?" I asked.
"The unfortunate fact is that approximately five million people in India are HIV positive. In this respect, India is second only to Africa. But here it is not so much a problem with lack of medicine but with a lack of education on how to prevent it and how to get people to be tested."
From there, the conversation segued into the subject of prostitution in India. "Prostitution is illegal here but it still exists." Just like in the USA. India and America have cultural similarities. Men in both countries can't seem to keep their trousers zipped.
"In the cities, many times young girls get lured into the trade, thinking that they can earn quick money to go to college but then they get sucked into the life, can't get out and die at an early age from violence or disease or both." Yuck.
"And by the way," said my Indian friend, "on the road to Acra today, we will be driving through a village whose specialization is prostitution." I laughed. Each village that we had driven through so far offered a specialized skill or craft -- stone carving, iron work, weaving, whatever. Now there's a village with prostitute skills? Ha! I imagined Amsterdam's red light district, with women in lingerie beckoning customers in.
My Indian friend and I talked of other things and dreamed in anticipation of finally actually seeing the great Taj Mahal that very afternoon. Then my friend pointed out a funny-looking vehicle in front of us on the road. "Some people here take well-water-pump engines and turn them into motor vehicles." Amazing. They just chug right along, totally unaware that they are mongrels. "They cost about $1,200 to make, you don't need to register them with the DMV and they get 60 miles per gallon." I want one!
These "hybrids" do come with a few drawbacks however. They don't go very fast, the driver sits on a wooden board just behind the pump engine, you have to get out and hand-crank it to get it to start and it has no roof.
Then suddenly my Indian friend touched my arm. "Look," he said. "There is the prostitute village." And I was shocked beyond words. The road we were on was a major traffic artery but it was just two vehicles wide and it shot right through this wide-spot-in-the-road. There were trenches on each side of the road, with boards placed across the trenches at intervals. No side streets, no sidewalks, just a few dusty huts, some men squatting around, trucks and buses streaming by on the highway -- and beds. Rickety cots lined the roadside. And standing in front of the cots were -- children! Heartbreaking.
Sweet girls as young as ten years old.
We stopped driving and just stared in amazement. Several of the children approached us, waved at us and smiled. These were not hardened adult hookers. These were children -- children playing at dress-up, wearing their mothers' lipstick. Only there weren't any mothers around. One or two of them were even dressed in tomboy clothes. We are talking about sweet innocent girls who should be in school or out on the playground. Instead they are lovely flowers, standing in the dust of the roadside in front of broken-down bed frames, waiting to be plucked and thrown into the dust.
It made me want to cry.
"Many of these girls do not know who their fathers are. And they have been practicing prostitution here for generations."
"What happens to them after they get older?" I asked. "Do they just become housewives here in the village?"
"Many of them die." So. It was a village of pimps, older men and young girls -- sitting by the side of the road on cots, waiting for tricks.
"How much do they charge?"
"I don't know and I'm not about to find out." I would imagine it would be 500 rupees max. $8. But more likely 100 rupees. One dollar. Then some pimps started to approach our car in a menacing manner and we moved on. The girls themselves seemed to enjoy our waving and gawking for the most part but some of them looked sort of pissed that we were wasting their time. The younger girls looked all happy and innocent just like any other young girl. The older girls had started to look hard. But even the older girls couldn't have been much over the age of 15. Heartbreaking.
After we drove on, I grilled my Indian friend some more regarding the prostitute village. He didn't really want to talk about it but I persisted. "What is the sociology of that village?" I asked. "Do the girls becomes the village's wives and mothers after they grow up?"
"The men do not marry the girls after they grow up. In India, no man would ever let his wife be a prostitute."
"Then what are the relationships and social bonds that tie the village together? What would a sociologist's diagram of village interactions look like?" Jeez Louise. What happens if a prostitute gets pregnant and has a boy baby? What happens to him? Does he never find someone to marry? Does he leave the village? Does he become a pimp?
"One thing you need to understand is that these people are social rejects. Some of them are from other places or homeless. They gravitate to here from all over."
"And what about the johns and the tricks?" Truck drivers mostly. Some Asian men who like young girls. "Do they use protection?" However, at that point we both looked at the road in front of us and it was a solid wall of trucks, coming straight at us -- in a hurry to get to the prostitute village perhaps? My friend did some creative swerving while I just closed my eyes and prayed. No crash. Back to the prostitute questions.
"The great tragedy here is that those truck drivers catch diseases," said another friend who worked at a clinic in New York City, "and then take them home -- spreading them all over India. At our clinic in America, we treated wives that had been unknowingly exposed to HIV by their husbands. All kinds of wives -- rich socialites, orthodox Jewish women, middle-aged women from the suburbs...." Imagine their big surprise when they first found out that they had AIDS.
Boy would I love to do a sociological study of that village! Would anybody out there want to write me a grant?
PS: Recently all the newspapers in India have had headlines screaming, "Skeletons of 30 Children Found in Noida". It seems that a man had been systematically kidnapping, raping and killing children in this one Indian town for the last five years without being caught. But what got him started on this grisly path in the first place? Perhaps it was a visit to the child prostitute village?
What is WRONG with men that they must hurt, ravage, kill and destroy the budding flowers of the world's women and children?
PPS: Do I advocate that the government of India shut down the child prostitute village? No. Not unless they provide an alternative first -- education, healthcare and kindness for these fallen flowers.
PPPS: They say that India will change you. It's true. Yesterday I was frivolously chit-chatting about child prostitution but last night I paid a very stiff price for my flippant approach -- a nightmare. I woke up screaming. Someone was hurting MY child. And now I HAVE changed. Now I look on every child in the world that is suffering -- whether in Iraq, Africa, India or California -- as MY child.
It's time for the men of the world to stop hurting, raping, killing, napalming, torturing and abusing the children of the world. And it's time for the women of the world to stop them if the men can't manage to stop themselves.