The girls have dark skin and this raises the prize she has to pay. Maybe by up to 300,000 rupees per girl. That is the equivalent of 30.000 kroner. But Asina does not want to marry off her daughters while they are still children.
Asina is working in Turbhe at one of the many brothels in the area, and she does it for her daughters. She works hard to give them the choice she never had.
Asina grew up in Kolkata, outside the city. However, her childhood years quickly came to an end when her parents decided to marry her off. At the age of eleven, Asina was forced to move away from her family to live with her adult husband. A man that quickly showed himself to be violent, both verbally and physically. Especially when he was drinking. Asina lived in the violent marriage for years, but when the drinking escalated and the violence started to affect her two daughters she knew that it was time to get away. Asina fled with her daughters, but the violence did not stop there.
She sent her daughters, Ratna and Hema, home to her mother in Kolkata while Asina herself was determined to find a job in order for her to pay for her daughters' education. Asina sold her earrings for 900 rupees and used the money to buy a train ticket to Mumbai where she hoped to find a job.
In Mumbai, Asina slept on the station platform for a couple of days. One day, she met a woman who said that she could help her find a job in Turbhe. When they arrived in Turbhe, however, it became clear to Asina that she had been scammed. The woman sold Asina to one of Turbhe’s many brothels for the equivalent of 5000 kroner. The brothel was Asina’s new work place. And here there was no possibility of quitting, because as a traded woman in Turbhe you have to earn your buying sum to the brothel owner before you can start to make your own money.
Because all of Asina’s earnings went directly to the brothel owner, for a long time her daughters, who were now in the second grade, had to drop out of school and work in the fields instead. Therefore, when Asina had finally paid off her buying sum she saw no other way out than working even harder to make enough money to get her daughters back in school.
All of her earnings, Asina sends to her daughters in Kolkata.
Unfortunately, Asina’s story is far from unique. We met Asina in Turbhe where Salina’s support centre is located, and many women who come to the centre share Asina’s fate: They were forced into the sex industry while fleeing poverty or a violent marriage.
November 25 is UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Violence can manifest itself in many ways in a person’s life. Usually, we think about violence as something physical, something between to persons, but violence can also reside in social norms denying some people, often women, the most basic human rights.
At Salina’s support centre in Turbhe, we try to create a safe space for women like Asina. Women who are victims of violence on many levels and whose daily life is still affected by violence and abuse. At the centre, we have employed skillful social workers who can guide the women and help them heal the scars on their souls, as well as provide them with medical assistance. The social workers also work hard to see that the brothel area’s girls complete their education so that they will get the freedom to choose whether they want to be a part of the sex industry; a choice their mother might have never have had.
You can also make a difference for women like Asina by supporting Salina. Even a small donation can make a big difference – every donation goes uncut and directly to our work in India.