#7 Amplified Risks to victims of inter-generational prostitution

Aaheli Gupta

In December 2017, Abhilasha (name changed) was rescued from a dance bar and placed in the Government Special Rehabilitation Home for Girls. During Abhilasha’s placement at the Home, the team had consistently worked with her family and the child for her rehabilitation. The child had been linked to vocational and educational courses. Both the child and her family were also being provided counseling services by Prerana’s counselor. In February 2020, she was restored to her family by the Child Welfare Committee as she had completed 18 years of age.

Abhilasha belongs to the Bedia community in Rajasthan that practices intergenerational prostitution. Through her upbringing, she had internalized exploitation as a norm in her community. Though her family never shared details of this tradition with the team so as to not affect her restoration but it could be gathered that they were in financial distress. There were times when they would share that their relatives in Rajasthan were pressuring them to get the child out of the institution so that she could be sent to dance bars. 

After Abhilasha’s restoration, the team met Abhilasha and her family a few times before they left for Rajasthan for a month. The team continued telephonic follow-ups with Abhilasha and her family once they reached Rajasthan. To assist them during the lockdown, the team followed up with them on the situation in their village, the availability of food supplies, and healthcare. A social worker also shared the necessary information about COVID-19 and precautionary measures with the family. However, since the 13th of April, 2020, the team has been unable to establish contact with either Abhilasha or her family. The calls do not connect and the team has tried several times in vain.

During the last conversation with Abhilasha, she had shared that the family had sufficient resources at their home in Rajasthan and that the father of her elder sister’s child (he is not married to her – and resides with his wife in Mumbai) sends them money from time to time. However, this is the only source of income for the entire family. If there is a conflict between Abhliasha and the father of her child, it creates a stressful situation within the family as it has the potential to affect their income. Currently, the team doesn’t know how Abhilasha and her family are doing. Financial distress in families, acceptance of prostitution as a cultural practice, pressure from relatives are some of the factors that make it very difficult for rescued victims to follow a path of rehabilitation. The concerns are further amplified during a global crisis, making girls like Abhilasha quite vulnerable in the current situation. 

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