O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed and justice never goes forth. – Habakkuk 1: 2-4
Yesterday, I visited one of the Red Light Districts in Bombay, India. In this one district, there are 20,000 Nepalese women and girls in bondage to sexual slavery.
By the age of 16, 60 percent of the girls in this District have contracted HIV.
Within three years of being trafficked to the brothels, these women and girls abandon all hope of freedom and sadly embrace this way of life as their ‘karma.’
In January of this year, I stood on the border between India and Nepal. As I watched the masses of people going back and forth at the border stations, I knew that on a daily basis traffickers were taking Nepalese women and girls into India to sell them to brothels.
However, it is one thing to know something, but it is an entirely different thing to see the reality of what you know staring you in the face.
Upon entering this Red Light District, it was immediately evident that the women and girls working at the brothels were Nepalese. I am in India with Eternal Threads’ Founder and one of its Board Members and the staff from the Nepalese organization the Red Thread Movement partners with. Watching the Nepalese staff’s reaction to the brothels enslaving their own people was heart-wrenching. Having, myself, seen numerous documentaries and movies related to trafficking and modern-day slavery, I had expectations of what the brothels here would be like, but the staff had nothing to prepare them for what they saw.
At one point, we visited a day care center in this particular Red Light District. The day care provides a safe place for the children of the women and girls working in the brothels to go while their mothers are servicing clients. The day care center was in what was once a brothel house, and the metal rods that used to hold the curtain room partitions were still intact. The room was only about 10 X 16 feet, but the beams indicated that seven women had serviced clients in that one small space. We were told that before the day care center was established, the children would play under the beds in that room, while their mothers worked.
It is stories like these that make me wonder if there is any humanity left in the world.
However, seeing the Nepalese staff react with such pain, coupled with intense compassion, for these girls, their own people, reminded me that there is still good in this world. There is still a spirit of hope and determination spurred on by love, even in the darkest places. I was reminded too of the girls at the safe house in Nepal and how truly privileged they are that this Nepalese staff I am here with in India stands and keeps watch on the border between Nepal and India to rescue girls like them from the brothels we have seen!
‘”Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me.’ – Habakkuk 1:5; 2:1