What is there about GB Road Delhi

Inconceivable - even if you can see it
The reality in the red light districts of India

The following report reflects the impressions and experiences of my trip to India in April of this year, during which I visited the three partner organizations of Maiti Nepal in Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. The aim was to gain an overview of their activities and facilities as well as their concrete work in the red light districts of these cities. BONO-Direkthilfe e.V. was confronted with numerous calls for help during this trip. We intend to expand our support to rescue underage girls from brothels in major Indian cities and to improve their living conditions.
It is impossible for a small organization like BONO-Direkthilfe e, V. to meet the varied and often desperate requests of local NGOs. Nevertheless, we are confident and hope that, with your help, at least some of the children can be given a piece of childhood or a new one.

Kali Ghat - a red light district in Kolkata (Calcutta)
Imagine, Maduri, a young Bengali aged 24, lives with her three children in a 4 square meter room that is only separated from the alley by a curtain. The room has no windows, is stuffy and clammy. It is almost completely filled by a bed, there is only one at the foot of the bed still a little space. The few belongings Maduri has are in a tin box under her bed. Next to it is a small kerosene stove, two pots and a few plates. The young mother takes care of her three children all by herself, all of whom come from different fathers and none of whom she has known for more than a few hours.
Maduri has "lived" here since she was 16, her mother died when she was a child, she knows nothing about her father. She was raised by an aunt who had little time for her. After her aunt died, she came here and did what most of the other 300-400 women in the red light district of Kali Ghat do. She knows no other way, her aunt had taught her early on how to earn good money as a young girl.
"There are a total of 14 red light districts in Kolkata," explains Tapathi Bhowmik, Program Coordinator of SANLAAF, a porter organization of Maiti Nepal. The best known are Sonnagachi and Bow Bazar where prostitution is carried out quite openly. The conditions are much worse in the poorer areas of the city such as in Khidirporu or in Kali Ghat, where mainly Nepalese girls are offered. The slum area of ​​Kall Ghat in the south of Kolkota became famous after Mother Theresa opened her first house here. The brothels in the slum area are frequented by day laborers and rickshawallaas. It is known that this is where you get the "cheapest" girls in all of Kolkata. The prices vary depending on the age of the girls between 20 and 100 Indian rupees (0.50 - 2.50 EUR) for a visit.
SANLAAP works very closely with those affected and campaigns for the rights of exploited girls and women. The organization has 14 drop-in stations and three women's shelters. In three red light districts they managed to prevent underage girls from being sexually exploited any more. "The cohesion of the women is amazing," reports Tapathi. "They share their problems with us and trust us. In return, they help and make sure that underage girls do not start in these neighborhoods.
In the red-light district of Kali Ghat, SANLAAP runs a drop-in center for children, a kind of crèche where women drop off their clients while they receive their clients. At the moment 32 children are looked after here in the early evening hours. Tapathi explains: "Unfortunately we do not have the financial means to take in more children, so most children continue to be sent to the streets by their mothers or, like bel Maduri, tossed on them under the bed until their mother has time for them again . " What must go on in a child that sees from an early age how its mother is forced every day to surrender to strangers in order to ensure her own survival and that of her children?
When asked what they would like if a fairy godmother came and made their wishes come true, the children of the drop-in center answer: A home of their own - a school education - that all children would be happy and would no longer be beaten - at some point to earn a lot of money once. A boy says that he wants to become a doctor in order to be able to help the people in this neighborhood free of charge. While I wrote down her wishes, the big children's eyes stare at me, full of hope that I am in contact with this fairy godmother.
SANLAAP asked us for urgent financial support in order to be able to set up the existing and very spartan children's drop-in center in the slum area of ​​Kali Ghat and to set up further children's drop-in centers in other Redlight districts. I have promised that we will do our best to help these children.

Change of scene: New Delhi
In the capital of India, as in the rest of the country, prostitution is prohibited by law. In contrast to most other major cities, institutional prostitution in New Delhi is concentrated on one street, the G.B. Road, in the heart of the city. Of outside the brothels are initially hardly recognizable as such. If you cross the street in a taxi, you think there is nothing but small electronics stores that attract attention with huge billboards above their entrances. Only on closer inspection do you discover balconies on the upper floors of the houses with thick iron bars, on which the girls stare indifferently and with empty eyes. They are kept like animals in cages, completely cut off from the outside world.
The partner organization of Maiti Nepal in Delhi is called STOP (= Stop Trafficking Operation and Prostitution of Children and Women). The founder of STOP, Ms. Roma Debabrata, tells me, visibly upset, about a gruesome incident that occurred a few days before my arrival. In Yamuna Pushta in the north-east of the capital on the banks of the Yamuna River, nine young girls between the ages of 8 and 13 were suffocated in an earth shed. The investigation revealed that three of them were from Radjasthan, two from Bangladesh and the others from Nepal. They were all abducted and supposed to be sold to the brothels on G.B. Road. The earth shed served as an "interim storage facility" in which the brothel owners could examine the girls like cattle and buy them. About 180-200,000 people "live" in Yamuna Pushta and it is one of the largest slum areas in northern India. Since the slums are largely avoided by the police, the gangs of smugglers have an easy time here.
STOP has set up a "Community Outreach Center" here, which is actively involved in the fight against human trafficking. When I visited the center's team, the sadness of the tragic death of the defenseless girl is still clearly noticeable. "It shows that we still have to expand our activities," said a young woman, whose sister has been missing for two years. Full of admiration, Roma tells of the group's successes. A total of 18 community workers work in different areas of the slums, which are divided into six different "bastis" depending on the origin of their residents. They fight unconditionally and determinedly for the fundamental rights of the people, most of whom do not know that they have them - at least in theory.
Again, I ask what you would like, provided a fairy godmother came and asked you. Without having to think about it, the women answer: Rescuing all underage girls from prostitution - Abolishing drugs in the slum, as thousands of young people perished as a result - Targeted training programs for young girls - a children's house, clean water - sufficient food - medical care .
To thank them for my visit, the children in the center's small school sing me a farewell song whose refrain I will not forget. They express what is going on in their heads in two simple questions. These are questions that are worth thinking about in peace. With their huge dark eyes, running snotty noses and matted hair, they sing: "Why we come in this world? What is the right of a child?"

Change of scene: Mumbai and Puna
In Mumbai alone, around 200,000 women, mostly young women, are involved in prostitution. The two most famous red light districts are Kamatipura and Falkland Road. The proportion of underage girls is between 40 and 50%. In Mumbai, many of the girls are standing in the streets actively courting men's favor. Although prostitution is prohibited by law, the police stand by and only intervene if there is physical abuse or other violent clashes. "Prostitution is seen as a social problem in India," explains Sunita Kalbande, the police inspector in charge in the red light district of Puna. She wanted to explain that despite the legal prohibition prostitution is tolerated. When I express my astonishment and ask her how it is that there are police stations in most of India's red light districts and prostitution is thus clearly accepted, she replies: "What should we do about it? Believe me, we are powerless!"
The women standing in the streets no longer run away. They are those who have long since come to terms with their existence as prostitutes. Their souls were destroyed shortly after they got here. They know very well that they have no alternative. They cannot go back to their families, they have no education and society despises them. "If we want to get young trafficked victims out, we have to be quick," says Balkrishna Acharya, President of the Rescue Foundation in Mumbai, describing the difficulty. Mass rape and targeted torture destroy the girls' own will and personalities within a very short time. The girls are systematically intimidated by the brothel owners. They are told that many women have been brutally mistreated after being arrested by the police, that they have all their money stolen from them, that they have no chance of returning to their families anyway and that they are considered "fair game". Within a very short time, such serious fears have built up that many girls prefer the existence of brothels to rescue by an aid organization.
Balkrishna, who has already rescued over 200 girls, says "If we can't get the girls out within a few weeks or months, it will be too late. The girls then claim they are of legal age and of their own free will. In those cases, all of them were ours Efforts in vain. It hurts to leave them behind and realize that we are late again. "

Gereon Wagener, BONO-Direkthilfe e.V.

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