At this very minute, scouts from every major city in India are making their way to the site of the recent natural disaster in Bangladesh. There, they will pick through the rubble of the dead and displaced, in order to find, lure, trap and/or steal young orphans and make propositions to the parents of those that have no other options, in order to secure and move a fresh lot of women and children into India’s sex, slavery and human trafficking trade (that includes over 3 million victims in the country).
Ajeet-ji, founder of GURIA, an organization that fights against trafficking and prostitution in India, spoke to my student group on the subject. Quoting him as quickly as I could, here are a few snippets from that discussion:
AJEET: “Prostitution is not the problem. Poverty and starvation are the problem. Women do not seek a life of prostitution. They are forced into it. You free the world of prostitution when you free the world of starvation. And you should think now like a child, “What is this?” “Why that?” “Why not?” Why, if we can put a human being on the moon, can we not feed people that are starving for food? This is a simple question. Do not think politics. Do not look into all the rationalizations. Just think like a simple man; “Should a person die of starvation? Is there any reason why?”
This is not a question of charity. This is a question of justice: how do we make a humane world? Trafficking of human beings refers to the movement of people, against their will, for prostitution, slavery, organ transplants, beggary and manual labor. Trafficking in India is, after drugs and arms dealing, the largest market of crime in India. Of the three, it is the most violent and deadly. You can’t just take a child out of the network. Everyone is involved, from the police, to the law, to the pimps, to the mafia, to politicians. Yes. I’ve had many death threats for saying this.
Education and health care are good, but they are not the goal. If you educate a prostitute, then you just have an educated prostitute — who still lives under the same thumb and power of her oppressors. She is still controlled by the system. For change to happen, the structure itself must change. We have to minimize the dependency of the woman on the system.”
ME: “But what do I, as a Westerner do to help? Do I sponsor a child with donations and give your organization money? Do I legally adopt the infant of a prostitute as my own child? Do I write the story and give it to the press? Do I stand and wave banners in protests? Do I go back to my own country and raise money for the cause in India? Do I go back to the US and work with the prostitutes that walk the streets of my own city? Tell me. How do I help?”
AJEET: “Ah. So you want to know where to catch the snake: by its head, tail, or by its middle? That’s a complicated question with an easy answer. Don’t try to find the answer in textbooks — that’s a limited framework within which you’ll only find more limits to your thinking. You want to know how you help?
You have the guts to look inside.
You have the guts to look inside and then you walk within your heart.
What you should know is that you will always be alone. You are only one person. So you will always be a minority. You have to put the world behind you. And you have to have the guts to walk alone. This is the problem you will always face. You’ll be isolated and ostracized. Your greatest opposition will be your family. And then society. But don’t think of what others will think. These groups, they should not destroy you; they should service you. So begin by asking yourself the simple questions. And then, work to create a humane world. Just create a circle wherever you are.
I don’t know the answer to your question. But you do. So go inside your heart. Walk there. Listen there. And there you will find your answer.”
From the GURIA pamphlet: “GURIA has been fighting the sexual exploitation of women and girls, especially those forced into prostitution and trafficking, which has further become severe and complex due to sex tourism and the spread of HIV & AIDS. While responding to their immediate suffering, we are focusing on the root causes of prostitution — inequality and poverty. We strongly believe that it is not charity that is wanting in the world — it is justice to make a humane world where all beings co-exist in harmony.”
For more information on Guria, visit its website: www.guriaindia.org