Sex workers in Delhi: Aide et Action helps them regain confidence and hope


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A project conducted in partnership with the Prayas association in India enables Aide et Action to support and accompany women sex workers living in the heart of New Delhi. Reduced to the status of slaves, deprived of all rights, they are gradually regaining hope and confidence thanks to a reception and support centre that takes care of their children.

Jyothi is barely thirty years old. She is extremely beautiful, dark-haired, with matte skin, but her delicate face bears the marks of a lifetime of suffering. Her story, which she tells with tear-filled, downcast eyes, is heartbreaking, yet there are thousands of women in India who have the same story. “I was bought when I was about 12/13 years old by a relative because my parents did not have enough money to raise me and my siblings. I became a prostitute, bought and sold again and again. Jyothi is one of the hundreds of women exploited in the heart of New Delhi, in the GB Road district, where pimps are the law. The women, deprived of all rights, are locked in rooms, often tied up, and welcome their clients day and night. Unable to leave without permission, without any money, they are at the mercy of their owners and have little or no chance of leaving this open-air prison, so much so that the rest of Indian society condemns them and rejects them for “a bad life”, which they are far from having chosen.

Child victims and trauma

The children born of their encounters with the clients are just as much victims, as the pimps leave them with their mothers and the latter are forced to witness the horrific scenes that take place in the rooms day and night. They are often malnourished, poorly cared for and in great psychological pain. With the support of an Indian association, Prayas, Aide et Action has opened a reception and educational activity centre to take care of these children day after day and has named it “Pahal, the initiation”.

A reception centre to save these children and relieve the mothers

The project team picks up the children in the morning and brings them back in the evening. Gradually, the mothers see their children return each evening in better health, happy to go to the centre each day to play, learn, share and eat hot food at least once a day. The shelter is a source of joy and comfort for the children, but it also gives mothers hope by taking their children out of an extremely dangerous and traumatic environment. We do not judge them, we are there for them, to support them and help them when we can. The pimps don’t necessarily see us in a positive light, but they tolerate us, they don’t necessarily threaten the centre because it doesn’t question the market or the trafficking in women“, explains the centre’s director. Boarding schools are gradually being set up by our partner Prayas far from Delhi to remove these children from the sordid environment in which they live and to give them a real chance of getting out. After years of hell, Jyothi got out of that environment. “I fell in love with one of the clients when I was 28. He did everything to get me out and had to pay a very large sum of money. At thirty, I was no longer of much value to the business, I was too old. Today, I am married, I have two children… and I want to help other women who have suffered the same thing as me. But the road will be long and difficult as these women are abandoned by everyone, especially the Indian authorities. Nicknamed “sisters” by the project team, these sex workers in Delhi have also regained their self-esteem with “Pahal”.