From darkness to light
Life can be dark beyond imagination for the women who have been trafficked into prostitution. Little sunlight penetrates the brothels and the bedrooms where they entertain clients are tiny. Babies and little children sleep under their mothers’ beds, developing deep scars of hearing their mum being abused.
Owing to this, the women feel that they have no life beyond the brothel walls, beginning to believe that this life is all they are good for. With little or no education, and no other work experience, they see prostitution as their only way of earning enough money to survive.
“I lived in a brothel, it was the darkest 6 months of my life” says 18 year old Shahina. “When I was rescued, I thought I was finally free, but it was then that I realized that I was pregnant.”
Shahina had run away from home, unable to cope with the cruel treatment her step-mother meted out to her. She was distraught on realizing that she’d taken the wrong train and reached Bangalore instead of Mangalore, where she had some relatives. But she was absolutely devastated on finding out that a man she’d trusted at Bangalore station, who promised to take her to Mangalore, had instead brought her to Mumbai and sold her to a brothel in Kamathipura.
Sonali fell unconscious after someone spiked her drink at a party. Two days later, she found herself sold to a brothel in Mumbai. Following a tip off from a partner agency, Sonali was rescued after 11 months during a raid on the brothel and was placed in a government protective home.
Shahina was also rescued and placed in a government protective home. The other women at the home advised Shahina to abort the baby, warning her that the child would ruin her life. Shahina didn’t want to kill her baby, but worried that if she didn’t have an abortion, she couldn’t guarantee a normal life for her child. Through counseling Shahina made a decision to give up her child for adoption. ‘”I am hopeful that my child would have a loving family and a happy childhood” she says.
Oasis India rescue women like Shahina and Sonali, as well as children who have been trafficked into situations of abuse and exploitation. They have been cut off from their families, friends and everything they know, and are excluded from a normal functional community.
Oasis India also runs a project in Mumbai’s red-light area called Aruna which means ‘bright morning sun’ in Hindi. Staff and volunteers visit the area’s brothels, making friends, patiently learning about the ladies’ needs and inviting them to their drop-in centre in the heart of the red light area.
At the centre the women can learn English and Hindi literacy and practice beauty skills like henna painting. Many of the women are living with HIV or have other health problems. Staff help them get medicine and travel across the busy city to take them to hospitals, clinics and sometimes to the hospice.
Post rescue, the women are cared for in government protective homes for rescued women. Oasis India works in the government protective homes offering medical and psycho-social care to young girls and women from sexually exploited backgrounds. Team members go into the homes regularly offering health care, education and livelihoods training options as well as counseling. Oasis India also runs a home for rescued women called Nirmal Bhavan. The women go through a similar programme as in the government homes, and are helped to explore options for rehabilitation.