Study Unearths Reality of Sex Trade in India: Low-Caste, Poor Women Lured into Prostitution. (World)

Article excerpt

The caste system and low social status have driven hundreds of women from their homes in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh into the sex trade, according to a recent study on women trafficking in the country.

The study, sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, found that 80 percent of women in the trade came from "socially and economically disadvantaged families." Only 15 percent were literate. It further showed that sex workers in all major Indian cities include a large number of women from Andhra Pradesh.

The research was conducted by Prajwala, a voluntary organization managed by Montfort Br. Jose Vetticattil, and Sunitha Krishnan, a Hindu activist in Hyderabad, the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh. The findings have been published in the form of a book called The Shattered Innocence.

Many girls ages 12 and 13 are promised jobs and marriage to lure them into the trade, the study found. It also revealed that 80 percent of sex workers ages 12 to 35 in the tourist haven in Goa state come from Andhra Pradesh. Moreover, Andhra women account for 45 percent of prostitutes in Delhi, 28 percent in Mumbai, and 3 percent in Kolkata. Krishnan says the published findings "underplayed the figures" to avoid "greater shock and disbelief."

"The study should be an eye-opener to all," Andhra Pradesh Home Minister T. Devender Goud said at the Prajwala book launch Sept. 15. He commended the "painstaking efforts" made to unearth the facts, which he said are shocking.

Minnie Mathew, principal secretary of the state's Department of Women and Child Welfare, claims that for "every case reported, 100 go unreported."

Vetticattil said the researchers came to know of the trade through networking with 22 nongovernmental organizations in the state. …