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Updated on July 17, 2010

Girls' and Women's Plight in India

I never knew very much about the forced sexual slavery of girls and young women in India until I read the book Half the Sky, written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. They are a married couple who decided to write a book about the social problems of women and girls because few media people were really addressing these issues.

What happens in many developing countries, including India, is a very sad story. Agents of the brothels scout the streets for attractive girls and young women of poor families. They approach a parent or other family member saying that they have a good paying job for their daughter which is legitimate like selling fruit, working in a hotel or being a domestic worker. The agents take the girl or young women to a brothel where she is forced to be a prostitute. She is often beaten or starved if she does not comply with their wishes. Unfortunately, some family members sell their daughters into slavery, also.

India, Pakistan and Iran have the highest percentages of forced prostitutes. Nepal often supplies many of these girls to India. The British medical journal, The Lancet, "calculated that one million children are forced into prostitution every year and the total number of prostituted children could be as high as ten million."

Nicholas Kristof was crossing the border between Nepal and India and talked to a border officer about the problem of sexual slavery. This is a dialog between the two and also a very common view point in India. The officer said, "There is nothing you can do about them. Prostitution is inevitable. There has always been prostitution in every country. And what's a young man going to do from the time when he turns eighteen until he gets married at thirty?" Nick answered, "Well, is the best solution really to kidnap Nepali girls and imprison them in Indian brothels?" The officer replied, "It's unfortunate. These girls are sacrificed so that we can have harmony in society. So that good girls can be safe." Nick answered, "But many of the Nepali girls being trafficked are good girls, too." The officer replied, "Oh, yes, but those are peasant girls. They can't even read. They're from the countryside. The good Indian middle-class girls are safe." Nick concluded from this encounter with the officer: "People get away with enslaving village girls for the same reason that people got away with enslaving blacks two hundred years ago: the victims are perceived as discounted humans. India has delegated an intelligence officer to look for pirated goods because it knew that the U.S. cares about intellectual property. When India feels that the West cares as much slavery as it does about pirated DVDs, it will dispatch people to the borders to stop traffickers."

In 2000 an International Human Trafficking Act in the U.S. was passed and there has been more police raids on brothels. With more police raids human trafficking becomes more expensive and less of a money maker for the brothels. To read more about the topic: go to Click on get involved to find out about organizations which empower women and girls.

The Rescue Foundation was started in 2000 by the late Balkrishna Acharaya, a former Indian army member who saw girls being prostituted against their will. He died in 2005. His wife, a former Indian journalist, took over the organization and has been involved in saving the girls from the brothels. Her name is Triveni Balakrishna Acharaya. The young women and girls receive job training, so that they can be self sufficient and the organization also contacts the police who conduct raids on the brothels. Go to and to find out what you can do to help.

Teachers and priests need to talk about this problem in an intelligent way, providing facts and resources because there is a lack of basic sex education for both boys and girls in India. Because people do not talk about it, people often spread HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Women are encouraged to be monogamous, but men are encouraged to be the opposite. Many of the johns are married men who are away from their wives and children.

One organization does focus on health, education and job training for both boys and girls in India. They provide education on HIV and sex education as part of their health component. The name of the organization is KHEL(Kindness,Health,Education & Laughter) and their website is There is much more the government and the NGOs could do in this area, both public and private.  One thought I had was providing some of this education on HIV, sexually transmitted disease and family planning as part as a requirement for a marriage license.  The U.S. also has a WIC program which helps nutritional needs of low-income women with young infants.  Why not have something like that in India for mothers of teens where they can get help with nutrition, food and job training.  It would cut down on the number of girls and young women ending up in the brothels.  My suggestion would be to have everything run by Indians and the funding sources could come from public and private monies.

Many families sell their daughters to brothels out of financial desparation because of extreme poverty. Yet if India educated their daughters there would be less poverty because they would become self-sufficient and could even help the family financially with the income they earned. Some of the women and girls have started their own businesses and some have even worked out of their own homes.

I encourage you, as I have, to support one of the many organizations working on this terrible social problem. We all are spiritual and sexual beings. It is up to us adults to help the youth to understand both aspects in a healthy balance. Many great men and women are starting to develop answers to this terrible problem. I want to thank all of you for making the difference by being the change you want to see in the world.

JAI SHRI, Stop the Trafficking Now!

JAI SHRI, Be the Change!



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    • profile image

      lakhn singh 

      3 years ago

      job mi plz contact no 8475896714

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for comments. Perhaps, a coop concept of women themselves and more educated women with money would be an idea which could be investigated. We do have coops in the USA where members pool their money to accomplish their goals.

    • Subroto Sarkar profile image

      Subroto Sarkar 

      6 years ago

      THanks for the write up. Sorry I just tumbled on it so supporting you late. I am spear heading self employment in India mainly among ladies. I am moving in the remote villages and trying to motivate the ladies. My first point is that ladies will not step out of home to sell their products. We the men will do. I am not getting support from any sector specially the politicians who terms me as agents of the opposite party. They do not want to drive the poverty from villages. NGO's on the other hand wants to sit on the head of innocent villagers and build their own fortune. When asked to support me they refuse to do so citing different reasons. Local minister avoids meeting me and central minister refuses to give me time. Yet when the talk of woman empowerment come talks loudly.Our ladies are Goddess Parvati having ten hands. They know thousands of food ans medicines plus handi craft with which they will mint money. Male chauvinism on the other hand restricts them. If they revolt physically assault them. They surrender because lack of safety. In one case I met a Nepali girl in a nursing home who has became pregnant due to ill effect of prostitution. While talking she disclosed me that there is a sheep in the Himalayas whose milk they use for curing different ailment. When I asked her why she could not use its milk to make medicine sell and earn she just told she does not know. But when contacted the animal scientist they say they know about it and prepared a paper and read out in a conference in Sweden. What a joke? Anyway if I start writing my collection it will become a big volume. Thro this column I appeal to all educated ladies to come forward and form a real NGO contribute 5% of their income and pounce on this hapless ladies and rescue them from further fall. I am 60 years old but I will give all my might to work for them free of charge.I came to Delhi to meet ministers but I have been refused appt. So I am returning back to Alipur Duar and will be camping there for some months.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for the compliment. It is a topic not often written about, so I decided to write about it. Spread the word.

    • Sylvie Strong profile image

      Sylvie Strong 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for a very well-written hub. I learned something today.


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