In a raid conducted by Freedom Firm and local police authorities in Ratlam last Friday, ten girls were rescued– five minor, three borderline and two girls around eight to ten years of age who were not directly involved in prostitution. One brothel keeper and a customer were arrested too. Seven minor girls are in a shelter home for children and the three major girls are in a shelter home for adults.
In Ratlam both the Banchhara and Bedia communities engage in prostitution as a way of life. The men force their women into prostitution in what they see as social compulsion rather than an economic necessity. Families initiate their daughters and sisters into the flesh trade, procure customers for them, and live off their earnings.*
The mother has the right to decide which of her daughters will marry and which will become sex workers. It is obligatory for the mother to dedicate at least one of her daughters to the flesh trade. She has to make the choice in the girl’s early childhood and declare it before the community’s deity, Nari Mata.
With this successful raid, Freedom Firm is beginning to build relationships with the local authorities and gradually breaking the root of prostitution that has deeply entangled the Banchhara community.