Early this year, I had the opportunity to visit Karuna, a rehabilitation home for minor girls rescued from the red light areas in central India. Before arriving at the home, I mentally prepared myself to meet a group of girls hardened, withdrawn, and jaded as a result of their years enslaved as prostitutes. I told myself “these are not going to be typical teenagers” and prayed God would give me strength to bring joy and light into what I expected to be a very dark visit. I was steeled for what I assumed I would experience, but what I experienced was far more difficult. Many of the girls at Karuna were headed toward a life of prostitution the moment their parents knew their gender. Despite this, the girls I met that day are not entirely hardened, withdrawn or without hope. In actuality, they are shockingly similar to teenage girls in the United States: They asked probing questions about my life, giggled at the answers and whispered to one another between cautious glances my way. They eagerly showed me their handmade jewelry seeking my approval. They coaxed me into deejaying an impromptu dance party with the music on my phone. They shared with me their dreams of being teachers and nurses and mothers—they were teenagers, not so different from the American teens I encounter at home
These girls have been given so little in their lives – little luxury, little opportunity, little love, and yet, they are so eager, so hopeful, so innocent. The shocking contrast between their experiences in red light areas throughout India, and the youthful curiosity and typical teenage behavior I observed that day brought the harsh reality of these young girls’ lives into focus. I was reminded that the lives of sex trafficking survivors are just as complex as the industry itself. There is no universal formula for predicting the behavior of a victim, there is no one prescription for providing rehabilitation.
I left Karuna heartbroken, humbled, and convinced we must do more. The girls’ hope and resilience inspired me to learn more about the global sex industry and its nuances, to approach my work with Freedom 4/24 with renewed passion, and to cast my own petty weariness aside.
Now, a few months after my visit to Karuna, my prayer is that as each of us is confronted with the complex reality of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, that each of us allows our heart to be broken for these girls and others like them, and that our heartbreak compel us to do more to fight these injustices.
I want to personally invite you to come alongside Freedom 4/24 as we seek to do more for the girls of central India and others like them. Learn with us and allow your heart to break. Act and assume your unique role in the fight against these atrocities. Give and be a part of bringing restoration to survivors of India’s sex trade.
To learn more about sex trafficking in India, read Tim Spaulding's first-hand account of a brothel raid near Karuna by clicking here.
- Post contributed by Abby Barr, Operations Coordinator