Monday, March 12, 2007 (Amravati):
The families of suicide hit farmers in Vidarbha are being forced into prostitution and into the hands of sex trafficking network.
Every day a cotton farmer commits suicide in the region and every day a new widow is born.
Twenty-six-year-old Rekha has two sons and lives in Amravati district – Vidharbha’s suicide centre.
Two years ago, pushed to the brink by moneylenders and a debt of Rs 30,000, her husband drank insecticide and killed himself.
That changed Rekha’s world forever. Today she is a prostitute. Her clients include truck drivers on the highway linking Amravati to Mumbai.
She has to get to work from nine in the morning and has no time to waste.
Rekha’s family, like the family of the other women, have no idea what she does.
Casualties of killing fields
As Rekha waits on the road, it’s not truckers but a group of Congress workers who try and pick her up.
They want free sex and try to tear her clothes off. Rekha fights them off, just barely. Later a bike pulled over and a deal was struck.
Rekha insisted on using condoms.
Like Rekha, her other friends are the indirect casualties of Vidharbha’s killing fields. Unlike other prostitutes they stick together in a group.
Reshma’s husband hung himself three months ago because of debt.
His brothers have usurped her land and now what Reshma earns from selling her body is her family’s only earning.
NDTV: When did you become a prostitute?
Reshma: Last month. Nobody was giving me work.
Reshma: When you don’t have a husband, you become an easy suspect. People think we steal. They don’t give work.
It’s already well known that women get pushed into prostitution due to rural distress.
Razia, an anti-trafficking activist, says the nightmare of sex trade and trafficking, associated more with Maharshtra’s Marathwada region, has now entered Vidharbha.
NDTV team travel to the house of Nirja – 80 kilometres from Amravati. She is 25-year-old and has three children. Her elder sister-in-law Sulekha has two.
Nirja’s husband hung himself to death two years ago because of debt. A year ago, for the same reason, Sulekha’s husband also committed suicide.
They tried to till their three acres of land and grow cotton and tur dal. But the cotton crop failed and they just have enough tur for their own use.
They were desperate. Pushed to the brink Nirja became a prostitute.
First it was the shame of debt and harassment which pushed their men to suicide and now the shame of prostitution.
Sulekha: Earlier we never even worked. Now we have to do this because of our children.
NDTV: Your courage must be appreciated.
NDTV Do villagers say anything about the work you do?
Nirja: They say things behind our backs. But we can’t afford to pay attention.
Nirja says she will sell her body so that her daughter and Sulekha’s daughter never have to and so that they don’t end up on the highway, the like other daughters of suicide country.