Trafficking: Story of My Friend
Published in Cape May County Herald.: My friend, who used to work in a brothel, told me her story: “This large city of brothels is terrifying to look at, with its tall buildings. It felt as if everyone who lived inside was satisfied as they quenched their hunger. I don't like even to remember. Due to the necessity to sell my body every evening, there was always within me an unknown fear of terror or fright, creating an empire of its own. I felt restless about how I made my living; I was disgusted at every moment with that kind of life.
“The notorious brothel where I was living was a place where thousands of girls like me had to sell their bodies for cheap prices. Alas! How hard and full of terror it was to live in that environment! When I think of it, my heart trembles, even today. Although the pain within me had another chief reason and that was the memory that never left me.
“I almost always remembered my village: the mountains, the waterfalls and the forests that extended far and wide looked as hard as life itself; whether uphill or downhill, they were filled with crowds. “When I went to the market with my mother, we had to cross through dangerous, wild forests. My mother had a dream exactly like mine, which her daughter would get some education by going to the city and would be able to stand on her own to make her living. But I was brought to this terrible brothel, sold by my own uncle's son. I was sold for just 20,000 rupees.
“In a place where human vultures spend money for foul play with raw flesh and where one’s prestige was ruined for just a handful of coins, how could I survive? My heart was filled with depression and anguish, but I was unable to express any of my feelings to anyone, because the trade of female bodies was found everywhere, from large lodges to hotels to the yellow mansions of that city. In that place where girls were bargained for everyday, selling them and turning them into prostitutes by force and then inflicting untold tortures on them were just common incidents. Sexually depraved rich men quenched their thirsts with me everyday.
" She was obviously scared as she told me her story. Crying, she said, "It was a great joke that my rights over my own body were snatched away from me. Questions often tormented me from time to time. After all, what did it really mean for a person to live as a woman? Did I exist just for providing cheap enjoyment that others could have by paying money? My hatred of my existence as a woman came out in the form of thousands of such questions. What a pity!
My body was torn and snatched by hundreds everyday. Every time I saw the mistresses of the brothels around me, I felt an inferiority complex. All the men who came were hungry to fulfill their sexual passion. I felt a strong hatred towards men. But despite that fact, I had to sell my body.
My life, in fact, was quite terrible as I had to live 24 hours a day surrounded by agents and customers. At the gates of every building, there were agents busy haggling for our bodies as if we were beasts up for auction. And we waited for the customers inside a very dark and foul-smelling room.
Who was there to love me in that world of money? Everywhere, there was alcohol, money and only customers. At that time, I was completely robbed. The value of my body and my soul was completely depleted. And now, I have returned to my own country with the germs of HIV within me, after serving at that brothel for so many years. I have become empty now. Coming back here, I have come back with an empty mind and carrying a terrible disease."
I asked her a lot of questions, only some of which she could answer. I came close to her and sat down. "I have arranged a job for you in an office. You must forget your past," I told her everything in one breath.
She cried in response and said, "My past was filled with such torture that, even if the criminals received capital punishment, it would not heal my wounds or erase the stain upon my character.”
Kamala Sarup, who writes from Rio Grande, once organized a program on HIV/AIDS and trafficking. “Many women in Asia are among the most vulnerable to trafficking,” said Sarup. “Only limited attempts have been made to combat the problem. Lack of commitment and policy implementation pose obstacles in solving the crisis. Education and awareness are the two powerful instruments that can check the spread of the problems.”
Kamala has a masters degree in economics.