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Child Sex Trade: In the Name of Tradition, Innocence Robbed in Madhya Pradesh

Trucks can be seen parked in front of the houses any hour of the day, where these young girls lure the customers. The girls are put on display in containers, called ‘gumti’ in local parlance. The village roads are lined with the ‘gumtis’.

Zeba Warsi | CNN-News18

Updated:August 9, 2018, 5:09 PM IST
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Child Sex Trade: In the Name of Tradition, Innocence Robbed in Madhya Pradesh
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The stretch of National Highway 79 that passes through Madhya Pradesh narrates a horrific tale of child sexual abuse. Girls as young as 11 are forced into flesh trade, shockingly as part of the tradition.

“I was 11 when I was put into prostitution. It was painful. I shouted, but no one heard. My life seems to be ruined," said 13-year-old Sheena.

"First time I was very scared. No one helps you. You have to attend the guests. No one understands our pain,” said Khushi, a 14 year old 'sex worker' in Sagargram village in Mandsaur while speaking to CNN-News 18.

Khushi is one of the many minor girls who are forced into prostitution in the name of tradition in the Bachda community by their families. The Bachda community, which has been de-notified, has a history of prostitution.

In pre-Independence India, women here were dancers in the royal court. Over the past few decades, they are infamous for prostitution along National Highway 79.

But the new trend of pushing minors in the ‘family-endorsed’ prostitution is disturbing. Virginity is for sale on a national highway- all under the nose of local police and state administration.

"One day a man came and asked my parents if I'm available. I was 11 years old then," said Sheena. "My parents told him that I was a virgin and discussed rates accordingly." she added.

Neemuch, Mandsaur and Ratlam districts have 72 villages, with 8,000 members of Bachda community.

"68 out of these 72 villages are involved in child-prostitution. Over 2,000 minors are in this forced prostitution," said Akash Chouhan, an activist from the same community. Chouhan has filed a petition in the Madhya Pradesh High Court highlighting this abusive practice.

"What needs to be underlined here is that this is not just prostitution, but child rape which goes unreported," said Chouhan.

At Nevad village, a 14- year old Sheena who belongs to a lower caste mustered the courage to talk about this. "Everyone comes from every caste be it high low. Some older, men some younger boys. Some men come in cars, some drive trucks. 13 year old girls are made to entertain 50 year old men. Once we go inside the room, no one cares what happens to us behind closed doors," said Sheena.

Trucks can be seen parked in front of the houses any hour of the day, where these young girls lure the customers. The girls are put on display in containers, called ‘gumti’ in local parlance. The village roads are lined with the ‘gumtis’.

“The girl has to wake up at anytime to attend to the customers for meagre 100-150 bucks The girls are even raped by the customers and parents support this crime”, said Akash Chouhan.

The school drop-out rates among the girls of Bachda community is high, say the teachers at Nevad Middle school in Neemuch distrtict.

There are around 15 Bachda families living in the area, with 12 girls from the community enrolled in the school. But in class 8, only two remain. By the time girls are 13, they are considered 'old enough' to be pushed into 'Deh Vyapaar' (flesh trade).

Caste Panchayats in the area ensure that the tradition of flesh trade is followed. Those who refuse to put their daughters into sex trade are penalised.

"This is our tradition. It's been going on for ages, and will continue forever," said Rooplal, a member of the local Caste Panchayat.

With the population of girls being 6,900 and boys being 5,600, the higher sex ratio Mandsaur, Neemuch and Ratlam districts presents an irony.

The community celebrates the birth of a girl child as the livelihood depends on them.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat of the state Assemblies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you put on the psephologist's hat. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Sana Fazili
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