In regional aftercare, working with girls like Pragati* convinces us that God is at work. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Nagpur has been the most difficult place to work, with resistance and hostility on every corner. What made it harder was that the girls themselves viewed us as their worst enemy.
But we persisted; we reached out, never forgetting the fact that these little girls are victims of a perverted subculture, a subculture that has taught them to devalue themselves as nothing more than sexual objects and money-making machines for the brothel keepers they often call “parents.”
Pragati’s courage to stand for truth and freedom was a breakthrough. As a 16-year-old girl from the Bedia community, she was forced into prostitution as a child and was expected to remain a prostitute all her life. One of our social workers reported on Pragati after spending some time with her-- “Pragati cried and started to tell me that every day we visit her and tell she is precious, but other girls don’t understand this. She said she does not want to do this dirty thing and does not want to go back to her “parents” in the red light area. She does not know if they are her parents because they trouble and beat her continually and force her to do prostitution. She also said that if she couldn’t earn money they would starve her. She didn’t get any money from the work she did, all of it had to be handed over to her brothel keepers.”
When Pragati officially made the statement against her alleged "parents" in front of the Child Welfare Committee, her life was threatened. The girls at the home ostracized her and the pimps outside tried to break in and threatened to kill her. Freedom Firm requested the CWC to transfer her to a safer place. As of now, Pragati is staying in another shelter home. We are hoping and praying that people responsible for her plight will be brought to justice and Pragati will get an opportunity to live a life free from fear and exploitation.
*name changed to protect identity