Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunitha needs your attention....

Finally I found time to watch Sunitha Krishnan’s presentation on TED.

I did read about her much earlier in a magazine and other bloggers GVK and IHM have already mentioned about her TED presentation in their own blogs in a compelling manner. Yet, I felt that the least I could do was mention her in my own blog though she and the cause that she has taken up deserves much more attention.

Sunitha herself is a victim and she says that she could never remember the incident clearly but the anger she felt was very intense and it is always the anger part that she remembers. It is this anger that led her to act. In her blog she writes thus.. There was a time in my life when I used to think if I meet God on the road, I may just kill him/her with my bare hands.

It took time for the healing and she again writes thus: In that journey I also realized that God is not somebody I might meet on the road…he/she is everywhere, in me, around me and with me. And then I started feeling the God experience in this journey which not only touched the fragile soul of the child but also my angry soul.

She starts the presentation with the story of three children who were rescued after being raped brutally.

In her presentation she neither moralises nor offers a solution. I think in her struggle she has realized that the task is very difficult and would remain so since the world where we live is a very complex one.

We as a society have justified prostitution in our own way. Let me jot down some of them.

- It is age old and it has been there and will always be there. (Men hunted animals for food, rubbed stones to get fire but does not do it anymore .. they evolved out of it.) For many this is the only business they want to do since the return is high. An article in the New York Times in February 2008 stated that officials estimate that sexual transactions in Amsterdam (where prostitution is legalized) account for about 100 million US dollars per year. The demand is high and hence the supply will be maintained. I am not sure if the demand earlier was for children as young as 3 years and if not, then either the demand has increased out of control or the supply has dwindled.... or our society has become much perverse. (Sunitha has rescued both boys and girls)

- If prostitutes are not there in a society then the rest of the women will be affected. It means to say that me or you are able to walk free in this society since the needs of a section of the society are being taken care of by these unfortunates and that we should just forget the fact it includes children too. One should also ignore the fact that these children and some others were never given a choice.

-Men and women are built differently and men just cannot control themselves as much as the women. Since I am from the female category maybe it is not like the urge to eat a chocolate or to purchase the beautiful set of jewelry on display. But then it discredits men (still in majority?) who has a control over these urges.

I am not sure if there is a real solution to this malady although some say that legalizing this trade could make it safer. But then statistics especially in Netherlands which legalized in 2000 tells otherwise.

In the Netherlands, women in prostitution point out that legalization or decriminalization of the sex industry cannot erase the stigma of prostitution but, instead, makes women more vulnerable to abuse because they must register and lose anonymity.

Thus, the majority of women in prostitution still choose to operate illegally and underground.

Legalizing this trade may help only those who seek the service but not the ones who are required to do this service. It may give those seeking it, protection and dignity in the society but not to the ones who are offering the service. Those seeking the service may still have a heart attack if he finds out that his sister, daughter or wife is also offering this service.

Legalizing prostitution or adultery may also help in cases such as the current "hot news" haunting the Congress party in Kerala. They know not what action to take since they fear they themselves may not come clean.

As for child trafficking/prostitutes the story in Netherlands is also not different.

Another argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that it would help end child prostitution. In reality, however, child prostitution in the Netherlands has increased dramatically during the 1990s. The Amsterdam-based ChildRight organization estimates that the number has gone from 4,000 children in 1996 to 15,000 in 2001. The group estimates that at least 5,000 of the children in prostitution are from other countries, with a large segment being Nigerian girls (Tiggeloven: 2001).

We may not be able to do much but our apathy and our attitude to the victims have to change. We cannot also close our eyes to what is happening around. Sunitha herself was ostracized from the society for two years when she was just a victim. At a time when she deserved all help from the society, it turned against her. Later when she tried helping other victims she was yet again targeted and bullied. (She lost the sense of hearing in one ear and one of her staff was killed during a rescue operation0

A few more links...


  1. Great article. I do not use "great" unless I feel it is worth using. Your article is really nice reading.

    Child prostitution has increased greatly and I am sad to hear that the people have lost their senses and destroying the lives of small children.

    I would advise an encounter for these most privileged citizens.

    I do not agree with your sentence... "Men and women are built differently and men just cannot control themselves as much as the women." ...

    Not all men are these dirty creatures who don't identify age difference and jump into the society hunting womb grown children.

    I am ashamed to be in a society were the politicians feel it proud that they were with alien girl protesting they had permission from her mother and their wives.

    May the world try to correct itself or mother nature will react.

  2. Thank you for sharing Sunita's touching presentation and your thoughts.

    Till now, I was of the view that prostitution should be legalised to curb corruption and help women who take to it. But after reading about the Amsterdam experience, I think things will get even worse in India, given our absolutely lax laws.

    I really don't think prostitution has a huge correlation with availability of sex. Had that been so, it would vanished from permissive societies.

  3. We always maintain that this is the oldest profession.
    Sorry,it is created by us.One feels sorry for the minor children who are forced in to this.
    I keep reading about minor girls being brought from Nepal and Bangladesh. Society needs to wake up.

  4. Thank you. In these very well written words, you have presented your thoughts powerfully, a worthy supplement to Sunitha Krishnan's video.

  5. Legalizing prostitution may help those who need to live legally, and require services. However, I don't think it is a solution to rape or child abuse. Those problems need to be tackled in their own way, like any other crime.

    Have been through the red streets of Amsterdam. Probably because it is legal, there are indeed many women who seem to make a good living out of it, "relatively". Not sure of the backstage though.

  6. Abhi: Thank you...

    Yes... not even the innocent child is spared...
    I do not blv either regarding the "control" part but then that is how everyone is made to blv and I thank u for talking from the male side..nd most of us have seen it in our Father, brother and our spouse and hence dont need more research...

    Vinod: even I wasnt sure until I read more.. legalization is not the solution and you said it.. it is not about sex.. it is only the money behind it.

    BKC: yes.. each one of us need to wake up to facts....things need to change...

  7. Kamini: Thank you.... Sunitha can wake us up...and I tried my best to understand and put my thoughts...

    Rocksea: I do not think all is well.. nd that is what I Netherlands they say 80% of the sex workers are immigrants which means they could have been trafficked.. nd if this profession was so lucrative why dont the local population take it up? It is all about money earned by the people behind it and it is not just these women or even men who offer the final service. Even the govt takes a part of it by way of taxes.. Canada too have legalized and the story is not all rosy there..

  8. I saw her presentation on someone's else's blog the other day. Its unbelievable how someone from a civil society could inflict that on another human. Children ? Sick !

  9. An extremely chilling presentation. Yes, time and time again we see that socities penalises the victims, while the criminals go scot-free.

    The Supreme Court recently suggested legalising prostitution and this is a thought-provoking answer by Madhu Kishwar in the Indian Express-

  10. 2 B's Mom: right now I am not sure what is the real meaning of being civilized or a civil society.... civilization was never meant to go this way and that I am sure...

    Manju: Thanks a lot for giving me the link...let me post the conclusion since this is the main legalizing we only imagine to have solved the issue but the problems faced by those in this service will never be tackled...

    "While there is need to decriminalise this activity and free sex workers from the terror and the extortionist grip of the police, to make it respectable and socially acceptable would mean turning a blind eye to the dehumanising circumstances through which the vast majority of children and women are trapped into trading their bodies."

  11. I watched the video too. It was very moving. The sad part is that those who peddle these services are ostracized by society while those who avail of these services can strut about with no shame at all. Really a sad situation.

  12. Yeah, the Sunitha speech @ TED has become the toast of blogosphere. It is one worth watching, and a mirror to the gruesome realities of this world.

    Legalizing prostitution has its own merits as well though the European example you mentioned may tell a different tale. How it works out in Indian scenario, only time will tell, but I feel its something worth trying.

  13. HK?will come back and read the post...for now, wanted to wish you Merry Xmas and warm wishes for the year ahead....

    PS:-HK?your bunnies are wayy too adorable:D:D:D

  14. Dreamer: Yes it was very touching...nothing will make it a fair deal for those who are forced to offer these services...

    Scorpio: I do not think legalising will make much of a difference... it will only give more power to those whose income comes from using these women and children..right now this business is not in the open and by legalizing we may see these injustice openly flaunted...have read regarding this same issue faced by Canada too which is always first in legalising everything...

  15. Indyeah: Very happy to see u back.. nd thanks a lot for passing by with your wishes...
    our bunnies have grown up now :)

    Wish you and your loved ones a Happy and Prosperous New Year...

    P.S.. do read the post and let me have your valuable comment

  16. Thank you for bringing up Sunitha's speech. Im still reeling under the impact. As you say, she was talking without accusation. But still it hurts to hear her say that society ( read us) is still so far from accepting victims of rape as victims. Im wondering how many mental hurdles we have to cross.
    But you have put in so much thought too. The easy solution- legalise prostitution - is not a serve all solution so what do we do? Look more and more inward and around us too. Grinding poverty is at the root of children and women being sold. Everything seems to wind up here.

  17. Kallu: Thank u for the comment.. nd yes poverty is one reason and in India the divide between the rich and the poor seems to be increasing.. even the Govt. stands mute to it.. today the NS talks about one such scheme.. but it seems the govt. has no idea of these babies who were taken in..and there were reports that some of the adoption agencies traded these girls for dubious purposes..|6QYp3kQ=

    nd secondly our attitude still stinks... we have an 86 year old leader who still needs these services (he and his likes may never bother if even a minor is offered) and if one reads some of the comments, one is made to believe that it is only normal...

  18. HK after all this is the terribly sad Ruchika Girhotra case, where a 14 year old child was molested and tried to avoid complaining but was left with no choice and then the harassment and endless trauma.

    I am not sure about legalising prostitution, but I do feel we should punish the pimps and the customers. And definitely all minor prostitutes should be seen as 'victims'.
    I also feel whether or not we legalise prostitution, they should be able to get medical care and other privileges. Maybe we should let this be a rare case where an organisation or trade that is not acknowledged or accepted as existing, is provided with certain facilities.

    But more than anything we should deal firmly with anything that creates a mindset that blames a victim - specially in case of sexual assaults.

  19. IHM: Thank u for ur comments.. I did read your take on Rathore and I am glad that (as of today) since much noise was made Ruchika may get justice, though sadly it is very late.. even the School is under the scanner and new rules will be made for schools so that they will not suspend any child at the drop of a hat.. Children are put in school for sustained development and if a school does not fulfil this then it has no right to function. Charges are also being filed on all who helped Rathore.. I hope the media keeps up the tempo and sees this case through.. and they are even thinking of appointing special judges for such cases, while I cannot understand why a Judge has to be special if he needs to only dispense his duties!

    As for legalising the age old trade, I do no think it is in anyway going to help the victims... but we have to change our attitude towards the victims and all the unfortunates that are forced into this trade.

  20. I read about her in Indian express sometime back.It was very touching.Also saw similar incident in Discovery channel on last month(Like an NGO rescued three jarkand girls from a brothel.Anyways thank god , there family accepted them back)

    But I'm against legalizing prostitution ..Not so comfortable with that.I was told that many of these girls in red light area is cheated by there boyfriends or there own family members and most of them are from very backward areas.

  21. Anish: Yes... our attitude needs to change.. yesterday I was watching this old Malayalam cinema "Thalam Thettiya Tharatte"... Lakshmi, Balan K Nair, Menaka.. it is not abt prostitution.... but it had a strong message in it... I wonder where such movies have gone..


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