Many minor girls from rural areas are brought as maids and then forced into the flesh trade
At night, the streets of Punjagutta are flooded with sex workers boldly offering their services. What is shocking is that a majority of these ‘ladies of the night’ are girls barely 18 years old. The main road from the Nizams Hospital to the Civil Supplies Bhavan is the main hub of this flesh trade. On closer inspection, most of these girls are far too young to be involved in the racket not even legally adult. Bought and sold by pimps and pushers, the story of these girls is marred by violence, abuse and of course, poverty.
Manjula works the street on the weekends. Guarded by her pimp Praveen whom she calls bhai (brother) she serves men of all ages often working till four in the morning. What money she makes is mostly taken away by her brother, and it is this poverty that drives Manjula and girls like her onto the streets again.
“I am not from Hyderabad. My parents died because of Naxal violence in Adilabad. I was sold to a brothel in Kukatpally by my uncle and I’ve been working in this City for three years,” says Manjula. Although Manjula openly declares to be 22 years old, she admits privately that she is 17. “I work as a domestic help in the morning, near Balanagar. Most of the money I make is taken away from me and I only get a few hundred rupees for food and medicine,” she says. Girls as young as 12 years old fetch a lot of money, which is why they are pushed into this trade at a very young age.
In a dark alley adjoining a medical store on the main road of Punjagutta, girls like Manjula are seen in dozens being picked up by men and escorted by the pimps. It is not surprising to see the police picking up a few of these girls at night for their ‘entertainment.’
Brought to the notice of this to the additional inspector of Panjagutta division N Tirupathi Rao, he said, “We had received complaints about this racket and have taken action when credible evidence was made available. Last month we raided many places and booked several people. But Rao denied that policemen tend to pick up girls as a routine.
These girls are subjected to violence and are prone to diseases. They hide their scars under cheap makeup and clothing, their battered lives bereft of childhood and family.
Jayamma, president of the Chaitanya Mahila Mandali said, “Hyderabad has over 25,000 registered sex workers and every year there is an inflow of many more of them. However, there is no statistics on the number of under-age sex workers as most of them claim to be above 21 years old. These girls are duped and pushed into this trade and are over worked. They have no medical support and are shunned away by the society.”
The Chaitanya Mahila Mandali works towards the betterment of sex workers by spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS and other programmes including rehabilitation and welfare of their children. However, despite continued efforts by NGO’s and the government, there still are girls like Manjula who are examples of the moral decay of the society.
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