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Mainstreaming sex workers’ children in Delhi

May 21, 2015

With sex workers themselves being a distress lot, it is their children who face real discrimination at the hands of society, writes Amoga Laxmi Sukka.

New Delhi: The goodwill of two young Samaritans hailing from the sex workers’ community is providing a new lease of life to the children of sex workers living in Garstin Bastion Road, New Delhi, which is a major red light area in Delhi.

GB Road is said to have a strong nexus of prostitutes, pimps and traffickers, forcing innocent and vulnerable girls and women for sex trade. Only 10 % or even less than that of the total earning goes to the victim (sex workers) from which she has to manage her expenses.

While the sex workers are into their business, their children roam on the road or stay in the dark closed rooms (that are used for keeping make up boxes or luggages) and thus stay out of the education system, too. These circumstances badly impact the access, availability and affordability of education for the children of Female Sex Workers.

“Children of sex workers are most often not taken into schools due to identity crisis, as most of them are not aware of their father. On the other side, even if registered in the school, children have to face stigma, for the reason that they belong to the sex workers’ community”, says Raghav, hailing from the sex workers community, and also an outreach worker of Pahal project, a day care center that ensures care to the children of sex workers community.
Raghav, 21, and Vasim, 20, (names changed), youngsters born and bought up in the GB Road area hail from the sex workers community and are friends since childhood. They experienced discrimination in school and at work place that hampered their growth. “The school teachers after identifying children hailing from sex workers background often tease and black mail them which have impact on their self esteem. It doesn’t stop here, as the other school kids and parents also do the same”, says Vasim.

Having studied till tenth standard from the ICSE Board of Education, the duo did petty jobs in offices nearby the GB Road, but they were often bullied by their colleagues due to their background. “When the colleagues come to know about our identity, they ask us to take them to the GB Road for having fun. They avoid us and socially reject us in many ways thus hampering our growth”, the duo says.

Then, one day, they came to know about the Pahal project, an initiative that offers educational and vocational rehabilitation and prevents second generation girls from entering sex work, implemented by Aide et Action South Asia (NGO). “In Pahal, there are many kids who belong to same community as us but are innocent children. Then we made up our minds, to help these children get a better future, so that they don’t remain in this dark area”, Vasim adds. They strongly feel that stigma and rejection from the society should not stop children of sex workers community from building a better future.

Every morning, both Raghav and Vasim would visit the houses of sex workers and bring their children to the Pahal center. “As we are much known to the community, the sex workers have faith and hope that drives them to send children with us”, says Raghav.

The project has created a positive and conducive environment for the children in the age group of 0-6 years. “The children are taught poems, basic maths and english, reading books, singing and rhythmic movements which keep them active and included in the community that contributes to their physical and gross motor skill development”, says Vasim.

The children are given breakfast, lunch, evening snacks every day. Periodic health checkups are also organized for both the children and their mothers.

Once the children attain a stage, where they can do things independently, their parents strongly feel that they must be sent to far off hostels and get a good future. “Many children in Pahal after attaining six years are sent to government school hostels and join formal education system as other kids”, says Raghav. The fee is paid by the single mother and most of the times, the children are never told about his/her background and remain anonymous, he adds.

Amoga Laxmi Sukka is a Communication Officer with Aide et Action South Asia, a nonprofit. She has worked as a health and medical correspondent for the Metro India, Hyderabad.

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