Prostitution and Trafficking

Taunts Derail Sex Workers' Kids in Kolkata

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sex workers in Kolkata are enrolling their children in school. But the kids often don't make it through secondary school, when derision from peers, along with pressures to earn a living, intensify.

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Customers Overlook Needs

The mothers' customers, who sometimes father these children, remain insensitive to their needs.

"This indicates the disjointed family structure that these children are subjected to, which adversely affects their personality growth and sense of social esteem," says Mazumdar.

Priya Ghosh, 14, is taking dance classes and resigned to a future in the brothel. "My mother could not pay my school fees, so I had to quit," she recalls.

Sangita Kurmi, 21, made it to middle school but then dropped out to become a sex worker and make a living.

The story is not too different for the boys, many of who wind up as male prostitutes or pimps.

"Many also turn to crime," says Dey. "The humiliation in school, often suffered at the delicate ages of 9 and 10, makes them psychologically dysfunctional. They start thinking that their mothers have no respect, that they themselves have no honor or pride. Crime seems very attractive to them as they are then not answerable to society."

Researchers recommended more vocational training courses for the offspring of sex workers, particularly female adolescents under pressure to earn money. They also suggested community centers for the children with hours of operation that would cover the odd work hours of sex workers.

But only so much can be achieved by sex workers, their children and advocates. The researchers also pleaded for greater sensitivity from school communities--teachers, parents and children--towards the vulnerabilities students.

This article is adapted from one that was released by the Women's Feature Service. For more articles on women's issues log on to: http://www.wfsnews.org.

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Ajitha Menon is a Kolkata-based senior journalist. She writes on politics, gender and social issues.

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I felt so very sorry for the children mentioned in this piece and for the mothers who must want their children to break the vicious cycle of deprativy. The schools must bear responsibility for breaking down barriers. What is education if not about challenging prejudices?

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