When daughters are sold for sex

Sep 25, 2011, 11:32 IST | Yoshita Sengupta

A half hour-long CNN documentary tells the shocking story of an Indian village, a few kilometres away from Delhi, where girls have been sold for sex for generations 

Nikalna khuld se Aadam ka sunte aaye hain lekin/Bade be-aabroo ho kar terey kooche se hum nikley. (We have heard about Adam's exile from heaven. But nothing compares to the indignity with which we were exiled from your house).

Unfortunately, Mirza Ghalib's immortal lines still have a haunting tone, especially in India. 

Anil Kapoor during the filming of the documentary in Bharatpur

Barely two and a half hours away in a vehicle from Delhi is Bharatpur, a typical village in Rajasthan. It's a place where people pray for a girl child. But before you think of this as a model village, you might want to watch Trapped by Tradition, a documentary featuring Anil Kapoor on CNN at 4.30 pm today (to be repeated at 3 pm on Tuesday).

Here, in this village, a girl hitting puberty calls for a big celebration. It means that it's time for that girl to join other women and financially support their families. In other words, the girl is taken to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata or some other big city and sold to brothels. 

In the documentary, Kapoor visits Bharatpur as a special contributor to the CNN Freedom Project, an initiative to take a stand against human slavery by amplifying the voices of the victims. He enters a hut swarming with flies and sitting in front of him is a woman with a withered face. She cries uncontrollably after Kapoor asks her a simple question, "Were you aware that your daughter was being sold by your son?" She can't get herself to answer and when she does manage to speak what comes out from her mouth is a series of denials -- "No. I don't remember. It was long back." And she excuses herself for she can't stop weeping.

Her daughter Priya, in her late 30s, like most other women in the village, is a sex worker. Twenty five years after she was sold to a brothel, she is the sole provider for the family. She also provides for a girl who lies in a crib, who is the daughter of her deceased brother, the same man who sold her. 

Bharatpur's story is heartbreaking but it also has hope. "The solution to most problems in the world is education," says Kapoor in the film. And Bharatpur with the help of NGOs has taken a step in that direction.

Priya's daughter Puja goes to school and she wants to come to Mumbai someday. But unlike how her mother was forced to, she wants to come of her own accord to study and become an actress.

The documentary is not regular Sunday entertainment show. It is not a reality show, but a reality check.
At:  4.30 pm, CNN International channel
On: Sunday

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