Night Shelter for Children of Sex Workers
• Ensure a protective environment to the highly vulnerable children of sex workers
• Ensure that the children become part of mainstream society
The red light area in the Puratan Bazar area of Baruipur, West Bengal has more than 100 sex workers living permanently and about 150 floating sex workers who visit every evening. They live in small, dirty, window-less rooms and are manhandled by the madam and the pimps frequently. The women lack basic human rights as they can easily be sold off by the madam to any well paying client and taken away.
The children of the sex workers live with their mothers and grow up amidst the crime, poverty and squalor of the brothels. The children are all malnourished and many of the children are frequently physically and sexually abused by the clients. Most do not go to school nor have any understanding about health and hygiene. The children do not have any opportunity to escape their environment and even when presented with one, are unable to cope as they lack the basic skills to adapt. The children are exposed to crime, alcohol and drugs at a very early age and the significant majority of the male children grow up to lead a life of crime. The stigma of growing up in a brothel prevents the female children from being accepted in society and almost 100% of them either join their mothers or are raped and forced into prostitution.NISHTHA
with support from ASHA for Education, Atlanta Chapter started a night shelter in September 2006 for the children of these sex workers at Baruipur red light area to provide safety and foster care. The night shelter, in addition to being a safe haven for the children, provides emotional and nutritional support, clothing and recreation in the form of games and story-recitals to 32 children in age group of 2.5 to 14 years. Some of the children have been accepted to local schools through Nishtha’s help and the night shelter also provides non-formal teaching support to these children with their home work.
The night shelter remains open seven days of the week and the staff alternates their duties on a rotation basis. The mothers are free to visit the children anytime. A former sex worker acts as an outreach staff to ensure no child misses their attendance to the shelter owing to playing, watching TV in the neighborhood etc as any child left unprotected immediately becomes a prey to the neighborhood pimps and clients visiting the brothels.
The biggest challenge so far has been to minimize the dropout rates of the children and provide employment opportunities.
Primary contributing factors are:
- Sold by their mother or kidnapped and forced into prostitution.
- Lack of acceptance in society that limits their access to education and employment opportunities.
- Constant exposure to crime.
- Lack of acceptance in society which limits their access to education and employment opportunities.
Progress made by Nishtha-Asha Atlanta, night
shelter for children of sex workers
Since 2011, Asha Atlanta has been supporting the college education of two children of sex workers from Asha Atlanta’s project ‘Nishtha’ in West Bengal. These girls were being supported by Asha’s ‘Support-a-child’ program. This was the first time ever in the history of Baruipur that two children of sex workers even made it to college. In September 2013, we received an email from Mina Das, our project partner of Nishtha that one of those two girls has been offered a job as a nurse in a government hospital in West Bengal. It is success stories like this, unparalleled, that we at Asha Atlanta strive to achieve.