By Kriti Rana
Rights of children, child trafficking and the issue of equal opportunities for children are often discussed and debated on. Discussion on child trafficking which leads to their inclusion in the sex trade or prostitution in India is very common. However, in all these discussions about child rights, trafficking, and saving them from sexual and physical abuse, the question of rights of children of prostitutes is rarely raised. These are children who are born into this world and are very often restricted to this world due to lack of opportunities on their side and lack of awareness and effective action on the part of the ‘outside world’.
The Only Home they know is a Brothel
The life of these children mostly revolves around the dingy rooms in the brothels. Due to the nature of their mothers’ work, bedtime for them starts at two in the morning when the nightlife in these brothels dies down and the “customers” start to thin out. These children, more often than not, live with their mothers in brothels, which are too cramped for their residents. Because of this lack of space, the children, inevitably, witness the coming and going of the male customers, and at times, what happens between these customers and the prostitutes.
They end up becoming a part of the sex trade
Since these sexual activities take place at the very place where they live, they are often exposed to the sexual activities both physically as well as psychologically. Due to this exposure, the children of the sex workers often end up becoming a part of the sex trade or allied activities themselves. The girls become prostitutes while the boys become pimps when they grow up. Since they are born in this trade, they are expected to accept and just follow through with it. This makes it extremely hard for them to break out of this way of life.
Another reason why these children often end up in the sex trade after growing up is that since childhood, the role models that they are exposed to are the very people that participate in this sex trade.
Added to this is the fact that the opportunities available to these children are significantly reduced due to the stigma attached to them. These children face discrimination when they step out of the life of brothels. This rids them all incentive to leave the comfortable environments of the environment that they are familiar with.
Schooling and Education
Schooling is also not as easily available to these children. Most of these children do not go to school, and even when they do go to schools, they eventually skip or quit due to the constant discrimination and bullying they face, owing to their family background. Thus the already limited educational opportunities for these children are further limited due to the treatment that they face in educational institutions.
As a result, the children that are born into these brothels are often sealed off from other life options and are trapped in a place where monetized sex, violence and abuse prevail.
Volunteering and Positive Action
In fact, very often volunteers decline to work for the welfare of these children as they feel that they may be hard to manage. Even when volunteers agree, it becomes difficult to fully engage with these children and provide them exposure to other opportunities due to the nature of the place they reside in.
Nonetheless, certain NGOs such as Prerana, Kat- Katha and Apne Aap, have taken up the issue of the rights of the children of prostitutes. They work to provide them with education and expose them to opportunities so that they can escape the life of brothels. With adequate recognition, support and greater action on the part of people, the life of these children can be improved. It is time we gave our support to these organizations and these children.
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