Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Underbelly - Part 1

I did not write for so long for two reasons : a) I was waiting for a new laptop. My previous laptop would suddenly shut off without a warning and had very sticky keys making writing a not so pleasurable exercise. I obviously have a new laptop now.b) My friend Piper has been asking me to write about my work back in India.

Well to do a good job writing such a blog meant revisiting the underbelly of humanity and honestly to take a trip down there and come unscathed is not humanly possible. I was also finding it difficult to think about the places I visited and the people whom I met there without feeling a tremendous amount of guilt and self loathing. Guilt for having left them there, self loathing for cribbing and undermining all that I have.
Moreover as I am surrounded by cheer, sunshine,innocence thanks to my 2 kids A and A, it was difficult to get ready to confront such darkness.

Reading the book "SOLD" by Patricia McCormick was a fast and furious roller coaster ride to those days. Roller Coasters are not my cup of coffee and thinking of the depravity and desperation and horror surrounding sex trafficking makes me equally sick to the stomach.It is undoubtedly an amazing book and she has done a brilliant job. Telling the story as it is, without sensationalizing the issue is a feat in itself. The simplicity of the writing style adds to the beauty and pain to the story being told by the protagonist, a 13 year old Nepali girl who is sold and tricked into sexual slavery. It describes the girls journey from a small impoverished village in Nepal to a brothel in Mumbai. And from all that I know there is no detail that Patricia McCormick has missed or exaggerated. She has told the story simply and honestly.

And while I read the book I wept first quietly and then not so quietly for there was not one character I could not identify with. Faces and names jumped out of the corner of my consciousness that had neatly tucked them away, to be brought out at my convenience,and at my chosen time. I knew these people, each one of them and I left them far behind in that hell hole. Besides physically distancing myself from them I am also guilty of emotionally and mentally distancing myself from that life. So while I was busy enjoying and cribbing about the pleasures and challenges of domestic bliss and motherhood, life went on as usual in Kamathipura, Grant Road and Sonagachhi.....

Chew on this...............

1. The U.N. estimates that one to four million people are trafficked worldwide each year.

2. Human trafficking is the third most lucrative criminal activity in the world after illegal drugs and black-market guns, generating $9.5 billion in annual revenue.

3. In 2005, the International Labor Organization estimated that there were 9.5 million victims of forced labor in Asia alone.4. Women constitute 70 percent of the world's 1.3 billion absolute poor, those living on less than $1/day.

1 comment:

Piper .. said...

wow! scary statistics huh?!! Ofcourse, its so easy for me to sit here in the comforts of home in the USA and make smart-ass comments. But,even at the risk of terribly annoying you, I`m going to ask you this out of genuine curiosity. What percentage of these women actually are coerced or tricked into sex trafficking? And also, that most of them pbly could work as maids or some other lil stuff, but how many actually wanna do it? Is it really all tht difficult to come out of the whole situation? Or is it complacency for most? Sounding downright idiotic, I know. But I`m really curious.