"Women are worshipped as goddesses and treated as dirt."
Dolly Jacob, a social worker for Navjeevan gave us an inside look on why prostitution and sex trafficking not only exists, but succeeds in Mumbai.
The moment they are born, they are seen as a burden. So abortion and infanticide is all around. What they forgot to think about is how that may affect how many women there would be left to marry.
What I failed to understand is most women are not here out of choice but out of no choice. They come to Mumbai from all over (a huge population from Nepal) because of a promise of a good job or marriage, but then are sold to brothels. They are sold based on their age and beauty for an average of Rs.3000 to 1 lakh ($50-$1700).
The women are not able to escape until the brothel owner earns 20x more than what they paid. If girls are not willing, they are gang raped while being held down by other prostitutes.
When minors are trafficked, they are hidden from the public. They'll never leave their rooms that are often hidden behind cupboards and walls.
The average day for a prostitute includes 20 men. Ten during the day and ten at night. You would think that would mean the woman would make enough money fast enough to escape, but a lack of education and manipulation by the pimp, he will lie to her about how much she actually makes.
Once a woman becomes "smart," she is set free. But with no where to go and no family that will accept her, she choose to continue life in the red light area. And the cycle continues.
Prostitution is a supply-demand system. The demand comes from society. So why do we condemn the prostitute and not society?
Where Navjeevan comes in
Navjeevan creates a haven for the prostitute and their children. In fact, Navjeevan's vision is that the rescued themselves will manage the facility and become its directors, social workers and teachers.
Navjeevan wants these women to get out of the brothels and become contributing people of society. However, finding a job is a struggle because they have no documentation--no way to prove they are citizens. Which leads me to the government. There is no government program that supports these women. In fact, many political leaders spread the lie that because there are red light areas, your child is safe.
The social workers of Navjeevan teach the women basic skills--how to count, add and multiply. They give them hope of a life outside of Kamathipura. A life of dignity. The kind of life Christ paid the price for.
Boys of Navjeevan
We saw Dolly's words come to life shortly after. About 20 boys from the Navjeevan extension home joined us for dinner and fellowship. These boys were no different from guys back home, except they were more polite, cuter and could dance. The Navjeevan extension home is where youth who are in college and employed have an opportunity to live after they finish grade school. There are four in Mumbai, two for boys and two for girls. They live together, cook and clean for themselves and become responsible adults. We heard from Shankar who lived in an abusive home until his mother finally left and from Anil who lived on the streets of Mumbai until the Navjeevan Centre found him and gave him a home.
Because these boys are prone to exploitation by those who learn of their situation, I can't publish any photos of them. But trust me, we had a good time. I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life.