Their family duty

A school in India for girls who have escaped sex slavery.

More children are sold into prostitution in India than in any other country. In villages such as Simraha, it is not uncommon for girls as young as 12 or 13 to be sold.

At this school, many of the children playing games, doing homework, helping with dinner and making crafts are the daughters of prostitutes. They are members of a marginalized caste known as the Nat community, which is trapped in a system of hereditary prostitution.

Their school, not far from the border with Nepal in the Indian state of Bihar, is part of a national program of girls’ boarding schools called Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, intended specifically for minority groups. Founded by the nonprofit organization Apne Aap, its supporters and the Bihar state government, the school aims to break the bonds of caste and inequality.

“The school keeps them safe and away from the home-based brothels that they were growing up in,” said Ruchira Gupta, Apne Aap’s founder. “Otherwise, they would join their mothers in prostitution.”

They’re still subject to pressure though.

A few graduates of the school are even heading off to college — with ambitions of becoming lawyers and doctors.

But many struggle to achieve a much smaller ambition: avoiding being caught up in systemic prostitution.

At the school, fathers regularly put pressure on the girls to do their “family duty” and start working as prostitutes. Some fathers have tried to snatch the girls back.

What loving parents.

The LA Times piece has many photos from the school.

3 Responses to “Their family duty”