September 26th, 2011
02:55 PM ET

'Trapped by Tradition': Your questions on slavery in India

Last week we asked for your questions about 'Trapped by Tradition', the documentary featuring actor Anil Kapoor which explored how in someIndia villages girls are sent into prostitution by their families. Here is a selection of your questions, answered by CNN correspondent Mallika Kapur, who worked on the documentary.

Question: Creating awareness is good but what measures have been put in place to help eradicate this abnormal tradition and give these girls hope for a new beginning? – labelle

Answer: Groups like Plan India and its sister organization, Gram Niyojan Kendra, are working hard to stop this practice. Their goal is to prevent the next generation from falling into the same trap, so they are building schools in the area and encouraging children to attend. They have a team of people who work closely with the men and women in the village. They also spend a lot of time counseling people and explaining the dark side of this tradition. Often the people involved don’t realize what they are doing is wrong because it’s been this way for generations, so nobody questions it. One lady, Ranu, who works with Gram Niyojan Kendra, has been living in the village for 10 years. She runs a residential school/shelter and looks after the babies of prostitutes while they are at work. She does this so that the babies are brought up in a safe environment and don’t end up being forced into the sex trade. So yes, there’s a lot of work being done to change the mindset of the people, and to encourage children to go to school.

Question: What is being done to the criminals who are involved in these activities? – Twaha

Answer: Unfortunately, many times, nothing happens at all. This is because the men who push the girls into prostitution are family members of the girls, so it gets difficult to prove they are traffickers.India does have a law against trafficking - the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act - but many anti-trafficking groups say it isn’t very effective. Also, traffickers can be punished only if someone files a police report first. Because family members are involved in trafficking themselves, who is there to file a police report? That’s one of the main reasons traffickers don’t get tried and punished.

Question: How long has this been going on? What part of India? Is there anything we can do to help? – Concerned

Answer: This has been going on for generations. In our documentary, we focused on the Bedia community which lives in a few villages in Bharatpur district in Rajasthan state, western India. You could contact Plan India which works with 40 villages in this district to find out how you can help.

Question: Who started this tradition/business and what do you think about the government’s duty in this matter? – A. Bhattacharjee

Answer: This has been going on for generations and is a by-product of poverty and tradition. Also, the people here are at the bottom of the caste system. Historically, they had few job opportunities and were exploited by the rich, upper castes. They formed the most vulnerable strata of society and had to resort to sending their own daughters and sisters into the sex trade to earn money.
 
The Indian government has good policies and intentions but anti-trafficking groups will tell you what the government really needs to have is targeted intervention. It needs to have specific programs to help this group of people. For example, if the government decides to build schools, it needs to have a school right there in the middle of the village so that the children don’t have a long commute. It needs to counsel the people to send children to school. It needs to sensitize the community there not to attach a stigma to the children of sex workers. So a targeted, specific intervention for this vulnerable community is essential.

IMPORTANT-It is not trapped by tradition it is TRAPPED BY POVERTY!!!!! - Shree

Answer: Yes, absolutely. Poverty breeds desperation and in this case, extreme poverty meant these people had no alternative but to send the women to work in the sex trade so they could earn money to feed their families. It’s vital to provide the people of these villages with an alternative form of income, so groups like PlanIndia and Gram Niyojan Kendra are providing them with vocational training programs and working to link them up with government-run employment schemes. The challenge is to provide an income that matches the hefty earnings the women get from prostitution. For instance, a sex worker can earn as much as $2,000 a month. While it’s hard to find a job that pays as much, anti-trafficking groups say their focus is convincing the people here to find a job that gives them dignity and a way out of this dark tradition.

 


soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. s Singh

    Much of the aid money that is given to India on this type of issues should be given directly to the charities that are on the ground doing marvellous work in many backward societies. Money given through government agencies is often misused , or never reaches its destination. Anil ji a very hearty thanks to your efforts often ignored by government officials who are probably more involved in activities such as the killing of truckdrivers on highways for not receiving bribes, than doing something about such noble causes.

    September 27, 2011 at 12:39 am | Reply
    • Anakaraya

      this isn't just in "backwards" societies. This is in EVERY country in the world. Including the U.S. However, it is less notable here than in other countries.

      October 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
    • Deniz Boro

      I have to clearify one aspect before I understand your aspect of slavery. State or Private Social Insurance mechanizms are not well advanced in Turkey. This is partially because of our social structure. Traditionally 1) a mother takes care of the chld 2) children takes care of the elderly. This is the accepted social way and social-wise no women would abondon her baby or his/her parents to a impersonal organizaton. Babies and elderly are a part of our society and daily life and our homes. In a sense the next generation is the social security of their offsprings. The elderly are usually usefulland actually wanted because they take care of the babies and also provide wisdom. This is the traditional Turkish family. And I do not see it as slavery.

      October 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  2. kumar chandra sekharam

    good movement by Anil ji. im associate director of film RIVAAZ. which is based on same contents. we want to show our film based on trapped in traditions. i think u will be very happy. this film already released on 16th sept with good public review. try to see and help those peoples who is under these dirty traditions. thanx mr anil ji.

    September 27, 2011 at 6:18 am | Reply
  3. Rudy

    For such an ancient culture they are still so barbaric.

    September 27, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Reply
    • prettygal

      Don't believe for a minute that this is what India is. Sure, India is incredibly diverse– you see dozens of languages, thousands of dialects, dozens of religions, including all the major ones....In a nation of one billion, yes, you may see some specific small group or caste with some strange customs. So what? In a free country, people are free to live up or down according to their merit, luck, money, breeding, culture, etc. Most Indians, I hate to dissapoint you, are living quite ordinary and normal lives. The husband goes to work , the wife takes the kids to school, sees that they do the homework, etc.

      October 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Reply
      • Indian reality

        And those who live the cheery life of normalcy are the least bothered by what lower castes do to their own women. That is their fate so why get involved. That's where the barbarianism has existed for centuries...among the "normal" Indians who could care a less about the lower castes.

        October 12, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  4. Stone

    When are we able to view the full episode video online? Any plans?

    September 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  5. prettygal

    As usual, the Western media like CNN and the New York Times finds something "bad" to talk about in India, a huge, diverse country with one billion persons. Typical. In a free country like India, people are free to live UP or down, as per their merit, luck, family , values, etc. This story is like if an Indian journalist went to Harlem, talked to some streetwalkers, and presented a "story" like this is what American women are.This entire story is biased journalism. The Indian who assisted is an Indian "Uncle Tom"... maybe she was told to find something negative, some small minute group in a nation of one billion...... and that is what she did,

    October 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  6. prettygal

    There is something called FATE. It is the fate of the persons in this small community or sub-caste .

    October 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  7. José Eduardo Pimentel

    You should really organize projects and recruit people for some active work, people are interested

    October 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  8. Raja

    For poverty-alleviation to be really tangible – it requires a huge investment of funds and many groups like Plan India and others to adopt villages poor localities and this requires a professional strategic planner to coordinate the efforts of various groups to eradicate this sickening "tradition" across every nook of corner of India and surrounding countries like Nepal and Bangla Desh as well. Definite government commitmnet is required to support this program to make it a success.

    October 13, 2011 at 2:27 am | Reply
  9. José Eduardo Pimentel

    Perhaps would be better to act on sites the ONU has interest first, big companies as CNN are the gateway for making "a difference" but these projects are all the same and never really do the difference. I am sick of rich people saying they want to make the world a better place, but don't wanna spend time with kids or do anything besides bureaucracy and receive donations, plus making their name better on people's minds on the idea they're selling

    October 13, 2011 at 10:57 am | Reply
  10. APACHE-DESERT RAT

    IF A CUSTOM IS ACCEPTABLE -then those that practice it will never change,my people long ago that roamed the deserts where no forigners knew how to live "the european settlers " if we did not like the other tribes or customs or if the federals tried to enslave the ancestors they would 1.be verry hard to find or track and keep moving to secret spots to avoid enslavement . on foot or by horse . 2. or the would go to other places in the case of the apache it would be mexico beyound the reach of the americans ,then to the u.s. a. beyound the reach of the mexicans -our idea of freedom
    YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIGHT TO EXIST /OVER YOUR ENEMYS OR ENSLAVERS 2.YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIGHT FOR YOUR FREEDOM OF CHOICE ,YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIGHT ANIMALS FOR FOOD FOR SURVIVAL .-OTHER THAN THAT WE HAVE NO LAWS NOR RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOMS .THE ONLY RESTRAINTS YOU HAVE ARE 1. FAMILY UNDERSTANDINGS OF RESPECT ,2.TRIBAL TRADITIONS,3. NATIONAL CUSTOMS -"AND THESE WE ARE ABLE TO EXPRESS FREEDOM OF CHOICE ON,DECIDING WEATHER WE WILL FOLLOW OR NOT FOLLOW "INDIVIDUALLY .AT THIS TIME WE HAVE TREATIES AND COUNCIL AND PEOPLE VOTED ON LAWS-THESE WE HAVE GIVEN OUR WORDS ON .SO THESE WORDS WE CHOOSE TO KEEP " BUT IN THE END "EVERYTHING" IS OUR INDIVIDUAL CHOICE "THIS IS NATIVE AMERICAN ,FIRST NATION ,PRINCIPLES OF FREEDOM WICH IS FAR BETTER THAN THAT OF THE CONSITUTIONALIST AMERICANS -BUT WITH ALL FREEDOMS – IF YOU CHOOSE TO BE A SLAVE TO ANOTHER ,A SLAVE YOU WILL BE TO ENJOY TRUE FREEDOM -IT MUST BE EARNED TO BE APRECIATED-BY EARNING ONE MUST FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT AND HAVE A STRONG WILL -AS YOUR WILL MUST BE STRONGER THAN THAT OF THE OPRESSORS . AND ONE MUST RISK EVERYTHING TO TRULY BE FREE -FREEDOM DOES NOT COME EASY OR CHEAP -BECAUSE AS HARD AS YOU FIGHT TO BECOME FREE ,IS HOW HARD THE OPRESSORS WILL FIGHT TO KEEP YOU ENSLAVED ..-THINK BEFORE YOU ACT -HAVE PATIENCE AND PLAN AND THEN WHEN THE NOW OR NEVER TIME COMES – CHOOSE THE "NOW " THE APACHES were almost anilated and fought some of the hardest and longest wars against the federal troops of the u.s ,the mexican army -and fought other tribes. just to be free as long as possible – this is our" heritage " our leaders are still reveered by al,l there enemys 130-150 years after they died -geronimo/victorio /cochise . because they fought for freedom and had no choice and the only way the enemys could enslave us was to destroy us. -when you have nothing to lose your choices get easier . :} i write this for my indian friends with a dot -please take care from your indian friend with a feather .

    October 13, 2011 at 11:16 am | Reply
  11. Dhugdugi

    The roots of this disease lies in the Hindu culture.
    They have got 4 main castes.
    Brahaman: The Untouchables aka the pundits or the religious clerics who are free to do anything upon their whims.
    Khastari: Soldiers aka the Armed forces, who in principle protect these pundits.
    Waish: the traders.
    Shudars: The gentiles.
    Ask any hindu that if a Brahman rapes a Shudar what happens nothing....!!!! in fact as the tradition goes the shudars are born to serve their upper classes.
    And if a shudar whi has got no rights of any kind, hears or reads his holy scripture, well is subjected to severe punishment. sometimes putting melted iron in his ears..
    SO the root cause is this hindu culture which should be rectified, and all this caste system nonsense should be taken out from this religion. one feels shocked that according to their religion this caste system goes to their gurus like Ram...

    October 14, 2011 at 3:00 am | Reply
    • José Eduardo Pimentel

      All cultures are subject of religion of some type, and to interfere with that is to interfere with human rights itself. Religions were stabilished in orient millenia ago because it is the fruit of human inner development. I think the hindu culture should not be changed, unless it is to colonize their people to our own beliefs.
      The only thing that can change culture is education, being it religious or cientific.

      October 14, 2011 at 7:13 am | Reply
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    I don't think that would be a solution to that problem Pete.

    October 14, 2011 at 9:14 am | Reply
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